With increasing speculation relating to an imminent Cabinet reshuffle since Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in as the country’s head of state last week, former higher education minister Blade Nzimande says he is available to serve in Cabinet in any capacity should the president consider bringing him back into government.
“I am available for any deployment. If I am asked to go and be an ambassador I will go. If the communist party agrees, I will go and do it,” he said on Tuesday in an interview with Talk Radio 702.
Nzimande, who is also the general secretary of the SACP, was sacked from his portfolio in October last year by former president Jacob Zuma after his party called on him to step down amid state capture allegations and strained relations between the governing ANC and its tripartite alliance partners.
Zuma resigned with immediate effect last Wednesday after being recalled by the ANC’s highest decision-making body between national conferences, the national executive committee (NEC).
Nzimande said he was fired from Cabinet not because he did not do his job properly, but because of a “parallel state” within the state. He said he would someday talk about this publicly.
“I am very proud of the things I have done [in government]. In fact I was fired from Cabinet not because I did not do my work. I am a victim of a parallel state, one day I will tell the whole story about this,” he said.
Under his tenure as higher education minister since 2009, Nzimande said he increased the intake of students at universities, as well as began to turn around public perceptions about TVET colleges in the country, among other achievements.
“I built two new universities; it is a huge achievement and we built skills centres in many parts of the country where young people could be able to access these skills. We increased NSFAS and I am very proud of the work I actually did in government,” he said.
On his call in November 2012 for a law protecting Zuma against insults from white citizens, the SACP general secretary said he stood by his views. However, he said his party was not defending an individual at the time.
“It was not a mistake. What was being raised was actually the respect for the office, not the individual,” he said.
“We were feeling that some of the things were really out of order. Some of the drawings that were done about the president were literally insulting and some of them reminded us of where we come from … Some of those things were completely unacceptable. That’s what the communist party was raising, that we actually need to respect our institutions and our offices, irrespective of who is occupying them.”