Fikile Mbalula was Friday morning replaced by Thembelani “Thulas” Nxesi, who takes up the baton as minister of sport and recreation.
Nxesi, who spent more than five years as minister of public works, is also a former deputy minister of rural development and land reform.
At the age of 57, he is 12 years older than his controversial but energetic predecessor.
Though he seems to have no significant background in any sport code, Nxesi boasts extensive qualifications and experience in both teaching and activism.
A founder member of the National Education Union of SA, he is a previous general secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers Union and president of Education International.
In his previous position, Nxesi was widely criticised for his department’s role in the costly renovations of President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home.
Meanwhile, the SA Police Union (Sapu) welcomed the appointment of the “young and energetic” new police minister, and said it hoped for more “glamorous” police awards to motivate law enforcement’s men and women.
The union said the police department was in a crisis and that it previously called for former minister Nathi Nhleko and his deputy Maggie Sotyu to be fired.
“Sapu welcomes the appointment of Minister Fikile Mbalula, a very energetic and younger minister, who was once a deputy minister of the police. The appointment of Mr Fikile Mbalula as the new police minister and Mr Bongani Mkongi as his deputy is a positive step towards stabilising this vital department,” the union said on Friday.
“On a lighter note, we hope to see glamorous police excellence awards.”
Zuma has announced 10 changes to the Cabinet and 10 more at deputy minister level.
– Additional reporting by ANA