Media reports suggesting that President Jacob Zuma supports the suspension of the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs, Mr. Mkuseli Apleni, are incorrect.
On Tuesday, 26 September 2017, the Director-General of Home Affairs, Mr. Mkuseli Apleni filed an urgent application with the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria. The President of the Republic of South Africa and the Minister of Home Affairs were cited as the two respondents. Mr. Apleni sought an order, amongst other things, declaring his suspension by the Minister of Home Affairs invalid. The alleged basis for the relief sought is that the Minister acted outside of her authority and had no power to suspend Mr. Apleni in that section 12(1) of the Public Service Act, 103 of 1994 ("the Public Service Act") provides that the appointment and other career incidents of the heads of department in the case of a National Department shall be dealt with by the President.
The President, through his Director-General, filed an answering affidavit in which he made it clear that he has no intention of dealing with the merits of the allegations of misconduct levelled against Mr. Apleni as these are not within his personal knowledge. The President's affidavit focussed primarily on clarifying whether the Minister of Home Affairs had the requisite authority to suspend Mr. Apleni.
The President's position with regard to this question is that the authority was delegated to the Minister of Home Affairs. This is apparent from Chapter 8 of the Senior Management Service Handbook, 2003 ("the SMS Handbook").
It is therefore clear from the President's affidavit that he only seeks to clarify that the Minister was delegated the powers to suspend her Director-General without going into the merits of the dispute between the Minister and Mr. Apleni.
It is therefore grossly inaccurate to report this clarification of the powers of the Minister as the President's support for the suspension.