Zuma does e-tolls damage control

2012-06-12 23:14
President Jacob Zuma has made sweeping changes at thetransport department.  (File, Beeld)

President Jacob Zuma has made sweeping changes at thetransport department. (File, Beeld)

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Cape Town - The transport minister and his deputy have both been replaced in the wake of the Gauteng e-tolls debacle after President Jacob reshuffled his cabinet on Tuesday.

City Press
reported that following the government's embarrassing handling of the Gauteng e-toll saga, Zuma attempted to turn over a new leaf in the transport department by moving both Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele (to correctional services) and his deputy, Jeremy Cronin (now deputy minister of public works).

Ndebele has come under fire for his handling of the implementation of e-tolls, with the party saying he failed to update them about developments in government.

Cronin, who is deputy secretary general of the SACP, was tasked with selling e-tolls to the public.

With his party increasingly becoming outspoken about the Gauteng e-toll system, he might have found himself compromised, wrote City Press' Carien du Plessis.

Ben Martins, a former ANC MP and a leader in the SACP, was promoted from public enterprises deputy minister to transport.

Sindi Chikunga, long-time MP and chairperson of the National Assembly portfolio committee of police, was appointed as his deputy.

Chikunga has earned praise as chairperson and she's been outspoken about the crisis in the police triggered by the suspension of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli

Position of strength

The reshuffle on Tuesday, the third in as many years, followed a special ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Monday, where Zuma received a massive boost after the NEC decided with a clear majority to reject efforts by expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to have his sentence overturned.

By appointing some key backers into vacant positions, without sacking anybody, Zuma was seen to have strengthened his hand.

In a surprise move he also appointed an outspoken opponent of Malema, Mduduzi Manana, an MP and a national executive committee member of the league.

Manana replaces Hlengiwe Mkhize, ANC Women's league treasurer, who was moved from higher education to economic development, where she will be deputy minister, filling the post left vacant since the resignation of Enoch Godongwana.

Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was moved from to public service and administration, a post which has been vacant since minister Roy Padayachi's death, in what some consider to be a demotion.

Sisulu is said to have harboured sympathies for Malema, but has also been criticised for her disregard of the legislature after refusing to answer parliamentary questions and give account in public of her department's activities, City Press said.

Sisulu, who faces the immediate task of negotiating with public service unions in the run-up to strike season, took a harsh stance against military unions in the past.

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who was active in the ANC's political military structures in exile in the 1980s, was moved from correctional services to defence.

In her three years at correctional services her performance has been underwhelming, but she has succeeded in scrapping the building of five new private prisons, City Press said.

Deputy chief whip Gratitude Magwanishe was appointed deputy public enterprises minister.

Despite repeated rumours that Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale would be axed because of his campaigning to replace Zuma at the party's elective conference in Mangaung in December, he stayed put again, as did Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, who is also said to oppose Zuma's leadership.

City Press said that were similar rumours that Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti, would be axed for his lack of loyalty, but he also stayed put.

The ANC in a statement welcomed the reshuffle, saying it would "enhance capacity in government".

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