TREVOR MANUEL: Mosebenzi Zwane’s power grab, and the limits on ministers’ horse trading
The constitution circumscribes the powers of cabinet members — a fact that a recent column about Treasury’s ‘horse trading’ ignores
There are provisions in the constitution that set out the cabinet's responsibilities. Cabinet members are collectively and individually responsible to parliament for the exercise of their duties and responsibilities, as articulated by section 92(2). For this to happen, it is important to recognise that the powers and functions, together with the administration of any legislation, are assigned to ministers by the president, as set out in section 97. These may be used to determine, for example, whether the exercise of the “interministerial committee on the banks”, led by former mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane, was ever constitutional. It could be legitimately argued that, unless the Banks Act was assigned to Zwane, his intervention was a naked abuse of power. The powers of ministers are fettered by the provisions of our constitution.
But in the column, “The Treasury has always been embattled, its ministers always horse traders” (October 5), it is argued, in relation t...