Reuters International

South African President Jacob Zuma reacts while participating in a discussion at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2017 meeting in Durban, South Africa May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

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By James Macharia

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday requested legal permission for an appeal against a High Court order to give reasons for his decision to fire finance minister Pravin Gordhan in a cabinet reshuffle, his office said.

Gordhan's firing led to sovereign debt downgrades, large street protests and calls for Zuma's resignation.

The president has never given specific reasons for removing Gordhan and replacing him with Malusi Gigaba.

"The High Court ought to have found that the executive decision in question is the exercise of a constitutional power, and is a decision of the nature that does not call for the production of the record and reasons," the presidency said in a statement.

"The Presidency further contends that there is a reasonable prospect that another Court will come to a different decision from that of the High Court."

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which requested the High Court order, also called for a no-confidence motion against Zuma in parliament saying his cabinet changes were harmful to the economy.

"The President is clearly hell-bent on keeping these reasons from the people of South Africa and is using every possible court process to do so," James Selfe, a DA lawmaker and head of its executive, said.

On Friday, the ruling African National Congress accused the judiciary of pandering to the opposition in ordering Zuma to explain why he fired Gordhan, and urged Zuma to appeal against the High Court's ruling.

(Additional reporting by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo; Editing by Louise Ireland and Catherine Evans)

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