Zuma's anti-corruption blitz gets thumbs up
Cape Town - Political parties have welcomed President Jacob Zuma's decision to axe Cabinet members Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Sicelo Shiceka.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille also applauded Zuma's announcement that national police commissioner General Bheki Cele was suspended with immediate effect.
"This announcement is better late than never," she said in a statement.
Zuma announced earlier in Pretoria that Mahlangu-Nkabinde would be replaced as public works minister, and Shiceka as co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister.
Zille said Zuma's government had been beset by controversy for several months.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela urged Zuma to take strong action against those involved in the SA Police Service lease deals, as well as Shiceka for his abuse of public money.
Zille lauded Zuma "for reaffirming his government's commitment to the role of the public protector and other Chapter Nine institutions".
The ANC said the Cabinet reshuffle would contribute significantly to strengthening government performance and capacity.
"In this regard, the ANC would [like] to praise and equally endorse the president’s action and decisiveness," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.
The ANC also welcomed Zuma's announcement that Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Willie Seriti would head the new commission of inquiry into the arms deal.
African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said action against the two ministers was long overdue.
"What we still want to see happen is Mr Shiceka paying back the taxpayers’ money he wasted on his alleged visit to his imprisoned girlfriend in Switzerland," he said.
Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald also welcomed Zuma's announcements, as did the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).
"We believe that the president has acted appropriately in responding to the reports of the public protector regarding the misdemeanours by these two former ministers," Casac said in a statement.
Casac welcomed Cele's immediate suspension and the appointment of a board of inquiry to investigate his role in the SAPS leases.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions said it hoped the announcement marked a turning point in the fight against maladministration and corruption.
"From now on there must be a policy of zero-tolerance to the looting of public resources by anyone, in the public or private sector, no matter how senior their position," the trade union federation said in a statement.
Civil rights group AfriForum said Zuma's decision sent a strong and essential message regarding the accountability and responsibility of people in positions of power.