JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma keeps rolling the dice. After rocking his nation at the end of March with a midnight cabinet reshuffle, he followed up today by removing incumbents in some major portfolios – setting the rumour mill running at full speed. Among the most astute commentaries comes from NGO Save SA, which is published below. It is becoming increasingly difficult to see any rationality in Zuma’s increasingly strange actions, especially as his final term could be ended in months. The biggest surprise is that he did not draft his ex-wife and ally Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma into the cabinet – because the changes reflect a big bet on her prevailing at the ANC’s elective conference in just two months’ time. Unless NDZ wins, the president and his bloated cabinet, including today’s newcomers, are almost certainly to be recalled. – Alec Hogg
From Save South Africa:
Like many South Africans, the Save South Africa campaign is deeply disturbed by today’s Cabinet reshuffle, and we sincerely hope this is the last kick of a dying horse.
Ministers who have served a mere 6 months moved to new positions. No strategy in this #CabinetReshuffle. Key is gas deal at energy.
— Justice Malala (@justicemalala) October 17, 2017
Our own assessment of the “rationale” for the latest reshuffle is as follows:
- Blade Nzimande has been knifed as Higher Education Minister for helping the South African Communist Party find its voice on the issue of state capture, and for directly challenging Zuma and the Guptas. It obviously also denies Nzimande the opportunity to take credit for any new announcements on funding higher education.
- Hlengiwe Mkhize had to be moved from Home Affairs because she was clearly not favouring the Guptas’ project to set up their own private international airport in the OR Tambo precinct.
- David Mahlobo has been appointed Energy Minister to ensure the Russian nuclear deal is put to bed before the President is removed from office. And he has been replaced with an equally opaque and loyal Intelligence Minister in the form of Bongani Bongo, to ensure the intelligence services continue to protect politicians rather than citizens.
- Mmamoloko Kubayi didn’t do enough during her seven months as Energy Minister to fast-track the nuclear deal. But she obviously remains loyal enough to both the President and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to provide the correct “guidance” to the SABC over the next few months in her role as Communications Minister.
- Ayanda Dlodlo is clearly paying the price for not facilitating a Zuma-friendly SABC – and in this case, we mean both Jacob Zuma and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma – and had to be replaced to bolster the “NDZ” propaganda campaign in advance of the ANC’s December conference.
- Our view is reinforced by the President’s decision this morning to finally sign-off the new SABC Board – but not without appointing a devotee as chair: Bongumusa Makhathini, who also chairs the Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation for one of Zuma’s wives.
This #CabinetReshuffle seems intended to achieve two things: 1. Secure the nuclear agreement with Russia; 2. Get rid of Blade Nzimande
— Barney Mthombothi (@mthombothi) October 17, 2017
Not one of these Cabinet appointments is based on merit, experience, knowledge, or an ability to run these portfolios effectively and with integrity. This is exactly what we have come to expect from Zuma.
The Save South Africa campaign is clear: Cabinet appointments must be made in the interests of South Africa – rather than in the interests of an increasingly feeble and embattled President.