Johannesburg - Reports in the media that President Jacob Zuma supports the suspension of Home Affairs director general, Mkuseli Apleni, are incorrect, his office said on Thursday.
The Presidency said that Zuma filed an affidavit in court to clarify the authority given to the home affairs minister.
“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 Presidency said in a statement.
“The President's affidavit focused primarily on clarifying whether the Minister of Home Affairs had the requisite authority to suspend Mr Apleni.”
On September 26, Apleni filed an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria declaring his suspension as invalid. He cited Zuma and Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize as the two respondents.
The long-serving director general turned to the courts after Mkhize placed him on precautionary suspension on September 18. He wants the high court to overturn his suspension and order his reinstatement.
On Thursday, the Presidency said that Zuma’s position is that the authority to suspend officials was delegated to the minister as 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,” Presidency said.
“It is therefore grossly inaccurate to report this clarification of the powers of the Minister as the President's support for the suspension.”
The North Gauteng High Court said the “complex” matter would be heard in two weeks time.
On Tuesday, the presiding judge said he would recuse himself because he felt that the matter was “too complex” to deal with in the urgent court which has a congested roll.
In court papers, Apleni said the minister’s reasons for suspending him were irrational and the process she followed was procedurally unfair. He said only the president has the power to suspend him.
Apleni also claims the minister was intent on settling certain matters which he was opposing.
“The minister is interfering with operational matters in the department,” he further alleges.
Apleni also said that to date no acting director-general had been appointed in his place. He said this meant that the department was operating without leadership.
His matter will be heard in October 17.