Over the past six years President Cyril Ramaphosa’s agenda for state reform has provided a curious case study of the limits of exercising power and some of the more arcane rules regarding the appointment of senior public servants. SA’s constitution has a rather complicated approach to appointments and dismissals that have been put to the test under his administration.

The judiciary and other critical Chapter Nine institutions — where so much of the country’s hopes of holding the executive accountable are placed — are mostly protected from the chaos of arbitrary shuffles that were emblematic of the Jacob Zuma years through security of tenure rules. That means whatever reservations politicians and presidents might have regarding the performance of officeholders, they are unable to unilaterally press the fire button without being forced to explain the basis for the decision...

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