Though it came as a shock to the country when President Jacob Zuma announced a change to his Cabinet on Tuesday last week, Nzimande wasn’t too surprised.
The former minister of higher education had become increasingly critical of Zuma in the past year and when during a May day rally Zuma was prevented from speaking due to loud heckling from SACP and Cosatu workers, it became apparent that the relationship between the two had become cold as Nzimande was unfazed by the tension and merely brushed it off.
Then a few months later in an interview with a weekly newspaper, Nzimande solidified his position when he said that the SACP had made a mistake in backing Zuma for ANC president in 2007. Together with former Cosatu president Zwelinzima Vavi and then ANCYL leader Julius Malema, the trio were fierce loyalists of Zuma.
The Guptas influence on Zuma and some of their successful efforts to capture the state is what lead Nzimande and the SACP to speak out against Zuma. Nzimande said he had felt betrayed when he learnt about the working relationship between the Guptas and Zuma.
In a report by City Press, Nzimande says Zuma is a desperate man and he knew his role in his Cabinet would end anytime after Zuma would not release the fees report into the feasibility of free higher education for all.
“I thought it would be obvious that he will call me and say: ‘Here is the report. What are your views on it before I respond? The president never gave me the report, I don’t know about it.”
“But when he didn’t share the report, that is when I knew he was going to fire me anytime,” said Nzimande.
Nzimande adds that after being told he was no longer a minister, no explanation was offered and he did not follow up because he knew Zuma’s reasons.
Nzimande says he will remain an MP and focus on doing work for the SACP which is looking to contesting the elections as a stand alone party.