With mounting speculation that President Jacob Zuma might reshuffle Cabinet again, the South African Communist Party (SACP) on Monday said it would support a reconfigured Cabinet only if ministers implicated in the leaked Gupta emails and other corruption scandals were fired first.
According to reports at the weekend, SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande could be sacked from his portfolio as the minister of higher education and training following Friday’s announcement that ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would be sworn in as a member of parliament soon.
Relations between the SACP leader and Zuma are said to be at an all-time low since the ANC’s tripartite alliance partner called on the president to step down after the controversial midnight Cabinet on March 30, which saw Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas get removed from the finance ministry based on a “bogus” intelligence report.
South Africa was subsequently downgraded to junk status by two leading global-ratings agencies.
Three top-six ANC officials, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, also expressed their displeasure publicly with Zuma’s decision, saying they were not consulted on the changes to the executive.
But they later retracted their statements, saying the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) had acknowledged that their public dissonance on the matter was a mistake that should not be repeated.
The NWC in April accepted Zuma’s reason that there was an “irretrievable breakdown of relationship” between him and Gordhan as a sufficient explanation for his axing from Cabinet.
Nzimande has refused to be drawn into speculation surrounding the rumours of a looming reshuffle, but the SACP’s spokesperson Mhlekwa Nxumalo remains adamant the minister will not be replaced by the former AU chairperson.
“President Zuma is still expected to act within the collective interests of the ANC. When he has any intention to do a reshuffle, we are sure the ANC will contact us,” Nxumalo told EWN.
During the last reshuffle in March, Zuma’s allies in Cabinet, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi, and Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane were left unscathed despite numerous scandals involving their departments.
Nxumalo said Zuma would not get away with an “unjustifiable” reshuffle and action had to taken against ministers implicated in scandals.
“We will only welcome a reshuffle if it is based on a proper assessment of government work.”
Meanwhile, political commentator Professor Sipho Seepe said the ANC had to face another split for the party to renew itself.
“I don’t think the ANC as it stands is sustainable, some people hold far different positions ideologically, that I think we must also agree there should be a split so that the ANC can become a focused organisation, rather than a party that spends most of its energy trying to manage the contradictions,” Seepe told SABC News.
“What the president needs to look at … you keep people who are competent, but as I said, you also keep people who are going to be part of the team. You are not going to succeed on the basis of a party that is disunited.”