Reshuffle rumours are 'mischievous'

2010-10-26 21:53

Johannesburg - The ANC on Tuesday expressed concern over media reports about a possible Cabinet reshuffle, describing the speculation as "mischievous".

"Campaigning for the removal of anyone in the mass media, without any factual basis, is unhelpful," said a statement from the office of the party's chief whip in Parliament, Mathole Motshekga.

"If anything, it might only serve to weaken their morale and cause unnecessary anxiety amongst the support staff within the departments they head."

The party expressed concern over the reports targeted at specific individuals. It said the reports "unfairly cast doubt" on the competence of the Cabinet ministers and "undermine" public confidence in them.

"The losers in this regard would be the masses of our people who rely on these departments for daily delivery of quality services."

The office of the chief whip called on Cabinet ministers to ignore the "meaningless speculation" and focus on their jobs. It also reaffirmed its confidence in the ability of the executive under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma.

Speculation has been rife that Zuma intended to reshuffle his Cabinet, which took office after the general election last year.

Possible key changes reported

The Weekend Argus newspaper reported on Sunday that Zuma was set to make several "possible key changes" to his Cabinet.

One possible change was the departure of minister in the presidency for planning, Trevor Manuel, to take up a senior position either at the World Bank or in the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

The Presidency announced on Monday that Manuel would "assist" Zuma with his duties "as the African Union champion of the North-South infrastructure development corridor in the continent".

Manuel would help by being part of a ministerial group on infrastructure "in line with the minister's national planning responsibilities".

Another was the replacement of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele, whose wife Cheryl is on trial on drug trafficking charges. And deputy Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile was set for a full Cabinet post, possibly replacing Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana.

The newspaper also reported that deputy Police Minister Fikile Mbalula was set to take up a full Cabinet post as a reward for leading the campaign that saw Zuma elected ANC president in 2007.

Other ministers "in precarious positions" included Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica, and Mining Minister Susan Shabangu.

Minister in the presidency, Collins Chabane, however, kept mum on the reports - he told journalists at a media briefing on Sunday that the question on the reshuffle was "unfair" and that ministers were continuing with their work.

Business Day reported last week that Zuma could reshuffle his Cabinet in line with his review of the Cabinet's performance, which he started earlier this month. But Zuma's spokesperson denied that a reshuffle was imminent, the paper reported.