The swearing in of Eskom former CEO Brian Molefe as a member of parliament, which could potentially increase the chances of a Cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma, has rattled everyone, including the office of Limpopo premier and ANC provincial chairperson Chupu Stanley Mathabatha.
The Citizen can reveal that Mathabatha’s office has been under attack since Molefe was sworn in as MP on Wednesday.
Molefe is a known Zuma political camarilla and has been implicated in former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report. Molefe is allegedly set to replace Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan if the reshuffling scare is anything to go by.
“Mathabatha, who is said to support deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidential bid, is among Cabinet ministers and premiers who should run when Zuma’s name is mentioned,” said a senior official from Mathabatha’s office on Monday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, described Mathabatha as a petrified man since rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle gained momentum this past week.
Different names of ANC bigwigs and Zuma’s political coterie had been doing the rounds as possible replacements for Mathabatha.
Topping the list is former Cooperative Governance, Housing and Traditional Affairs MEC Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, now the international relations minister.
The other name suggested is that of Communications Minister Faith Muthambi and former Waterberg District Municipality Rosina Mogotlane.
If the reshuffle is effected, Zuma will have fallen right into the hands of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the ANC Youth League, which have both been calling for Mathabatha’s head.
The EFF called a media briefing last week, where they officially called for Mathabatha to resign.
“Mathabatha must just pack his bags and go to his Sekhukhune home. We cannot afford to have a drunk premier whose interest is slaughtering goats in Groblersdaal every weekend instead of solving a mountain of problems we face as the province,” EFF provincial secretary Jossey Buthane said during a media briefing in Polokwane on Tuesday.
“We have a premier defector by the name of Danny Msiza, the party’s provincial secretary,” he said.
“Always when Msiza tells Mathabatha to jump, the poor premier, who is obsessed with goat meat, would simply ask ‘how high?’,” Buthane said angrily.
The ANC Youth League echoed the EFF’s sentiments, saying the long wheels of justice were taking decades to grind in Mathabatha’s case.
The league has been accusing Mathabatha of leaving members of his executive committee in his cabinet to do as they please.
Che Selane, the league’s provincial secretary, accused Mathabatha of sitting idly by while his MECs embarked on a looting marathon of state resources.
Selane also accused Mathabatha of not taking any action against several MECs whose conducts were found wanting.
“There are no textbooks and stationery books in Limpopo schools, none of the provincial departments produced a clean audit, while unemployment among youth continues to escalate right under his nose.
“That is why news that Zuma is about to wield his whip is the only thing that puts a broad smile on our faces,” said Selane.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has also called for Mathabatha to step down, saying he had failed the province.
The DA’s call comes days after its provincial chairperson, Langa Bodlani, was kicked out of the precinct during the Sopa, which was held at the Jack Botes Hall in Polokwane on Friday.
His booting was followed by a walkout staged by DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle minutes after their supporters were also shown the door for raising placards during the Sopa proceedings, interfering and interrupting Mathabatha’s speech.
Limpopo provincial government spokesperson Phuti Seloba brushed aside the allegations, saying they were just rumours and would remain such.
“Those are baseless and unfounded allegations. Mathabatha will not be deterred by these rumours from doing his work. He will continue serving the province with precision and distinction as always,” he said.
Zuma has since scoffed at rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle and avoided questions from media houses last week during a meeting with business leaders and members of the interministerial committee on investment following Sona.