Presidency mum on reports of a pending Cabinet reshuffle

2016-11-27 14:06
President Jacob Zuma (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24)

President Jacob Zuma (Deaan Vivier, Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma's office has refused to confirm or deny claims of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle.

The Sunday Times had reported that Zuma was planning to restructure his Cabinet after the ANC's birthday celebrations in January 2017 in an attempt to side-line his opponents.

It claimed that he had already been in consultation with provincial leaders over plans to remove Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha, and the Eastern Cape's Phumulo Masualle.

"We receive inquiries about possible Cabinet reshuffles every day, but the one person who would really know about that is the president," Presidency spokesperson, Bongani Ngqulunga, told News24 on Sunday.

The Sunday newspaper reported that some in the presidency had already been instructed to profile ANC leaders earmarked for Cabinet appointments in order to avoid appointing those without a public profile.

‘The time might be right’

Political analyst Ralph Matekga believed the idea of a pending reshuffle was not far-fetched.

"One way or another it's bound to happen," he told News24.

This is the longest time we have gone without a Cabinet reshuffle and have had a lot of crises, said Matekga.

He explained that since South Africa's outlook had been revised to negative by ratings agencies, some in circles close to the president might feel that the time was right to get rid of those seen to be in opposition to Zuma.

"Some might even say what's the worst that can happen? We've already been downgraded to negative. This is interpreted by some in the ANC as a sign to go for it."

Matekga said it made no sense for those in Zuma's camp to not want to deal with those who had been fighting him and wanting to see him gone.

In its report, the Sunday Times alluded to changes in the president's executive only taking place after the party’s 105th birthday celebrations in January 2017, but Matekga said he saw no reason to wait.

"January 8 is not an important barometer of Zuma's leadership," said Matekga.

Zuma ‘already laying the groundwork’

He believes the president has already begun laying the groundwork towards getting supporters on his side, explaining that he had visited branches across the country to share his position with members.

A key part of that message was, "to say government is under siege, that it's being held to ransom by the markets and the fears of regime change," Matekga said.

The City Press reported that Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom stunned Zuma and his backers when he tabled a motion for him to step down at the national executive committee (NEC) meeting at the weekend

Late Saturday night, the meeting had reportedly been adjourned with the discussion around a vote deferred to Sunday, the last day of the NEC sitting.

City Press learnt that those set on removing Zuma were lobbying for a secret ballot to determine the president's fate. A secret ballot could be the nail in Zuma's coffin as it would empower those who fear a backlash.

Saturday's decision to defer voting came as some objected to any vote last night taking place in the absence of many NEC members, who had been attending Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina's wedding in Stellenbosch on Saturday.

The NEC has always been considered a safe space for Zuma as it was believed his supporters dominate the structure, the paper reported.

Read more on:    anc  |  jacob zuma  |  politics

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