PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma received both bouquets and brickbats for his cabinet reshuffle.
On the one hand he was praised for being the first post-apartheid president to remove deadwood from his cabinet and allow fresh incumbents in.
On the other, his actions were seen as political expediency ahead of the 2012 elections.
Democratic Alliance Leader Helen Zille called the reshuffle a “shift of convenience” and creating space for “jobs for pals”.
DA Leader in Parliament Athol Trollip said the move is positive, but added that although there were a number of positive changes, some of the president’s actions were puzzling. Trollip praised the axing of Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda; Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya and Minister of Labour Membathisi Mdladlana.
He expressed concern over the removal of Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan.
He was even more concerned at her replacement by former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba. Trollip said Gigaba lurched from one controversy to the next at Home Affairs.
There has been confusion in reports with some mentioning that Minister of Public Service and Administration, Richard Baloyi, had been removed.
This was not the case, instead Baloyi has a deputy minister to assist him.
His deputy is going to be Ayanda Dlodlo, who comes from the ranks of the uMkhonto weSizwe veterans. Her appointment is seen as Zuma shoring up his support from the veterans.
Several appointments from the Gauteng constituency are seen as settling the tensions and dynamics in that area. Gauteng party leader Paul Mashatile was promoted from Deputy to Minister of Arts and Culture. Tshwane Mayor Gwen Ramokgopa is the new Deputy Minister for Health.
The promotion of two former ANC Youth League leaders, Gigaba and Fikile Mbalula from deputies to ministers, is seen as appeasing the youth constituency.
The ACDP, IFP and Freedom Front Plus have adopted a wait-and-see attitude while the UDM’s Bantu Holomisa said the reshuffle is aimed at addressing ANC internal politics. The SA Chamber of Commerce expressed concern at the increased cost of a bloated administration.
Good news for Pietermaritzburg is that three of the new appointees are from the city.
They are Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Deputy Minister for Energy Barbara Thompson and Deputy Minister for Public Enterprises Ben Martins.