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'Cabinet reshuffle was rational & downgrades based on speculation'

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CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has defended his Cabinet reshuffle as “rational” and says rating agencies’ decision to downgrade South Africa were based on speculation on the possible consequences of his decision.

Zuma makes the arguments in papers in the UDM’s Constitutional Court bid for a secret vote on the pending motion of no confidence against him.

Zuma and National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete filed their answering affidavits on Thursday.

Mbete says in her papers that while she’s not personally opposed to a secret ballot, it is not within her powers to grant this.

Zuma says ratings agencies’ concerns that his Cabinet reshuffle would lead to a shift in economic policy are not “based on any fact”.

He says the Constitution requires that Cabinet develops policy as a collective and that rating agencies' worries are “informed by a misconception of what the Constitution requires”.

Zuma says he has the power to appoint and fire ministers and that his reshuffle was done for “rational purposes”.

In his affidavit, Zuma also denies that the purpose of the motion of no confidence will be undermined if MPs cannot vote in secret.

He says the UDM is asking the court to deny the ANC the benefits of its majority in the house because the motion cannot succeed without ANC support.

(Edited by Refilwe Thobega)

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