Biggest Cabinet shake-up since 1994

2010-11-01 09:06

President Jacob Zuma put paid to speculation that he would fire some of his ministers by announcing a major Cabinet reshuffle.

The political grapevine has been awash with rumours of a reshuffle for some weeks now, and the announcement yesterday afternoon chimes in with Zuma’s promise to cut dead wood in government and to review its performance.

The reshuffle has resulted in seven ministers – communications (Siphiwe Nyanda), sports (Makhenkesi Stofile), public enterprises (Barbara Hogan), public works (Geoff Doidge), water and environmental affairs (Buyelwa Sonjica), labour (Membathisi Mdladlana), and women, children and people with disabilities (Nolthando Mayende-Sibiya) – being kicked out of the Cabinet altogether.

New ministers include Paul Mashatile in arts and culture, Fikile Mbalula in sports and recreation, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde in public works, Malusi Gigaba in public enterprises and Roy Padayachie in communications.

The reshuffle gives Mbalula, who is also ANC campaigns chief and former police deputy minister, a higher profile and should bring an end to reports of turf war between him and police minister Nathi Mthethwa.

The appointments of Gauteng ANC chairperson Mashatile and his deputy Gwen Ramokgopa, the former Tshwane mayor who is now deputy health minister, are seen as an attempt to deal with the shift in the balance of power within the ANC in the country’s economic powerhouse.

It will also appease Mashatile’s supporters who feel that he was snubbed by the ANC when he was appointed deputy arts and culture minister, instead of being made provincial premier. Ramokgopa’s relative and Tshwane Metro ANC chairperson Sputla Ramokgopa is widely expected to replace her as the mayor of the country’s capital.

Nyanda got bad press for his alleged business links and the problems confronted the public broadcaster SABC.

Mayende-Sibiya also took flak for alleged poor performance, and is said to have lacked the support of the ANC Women’s League which had campaigned for the established of the portfolio she has lost.

This is the biggest Cabinet shake-up since 1994 when the ANC took over power.

“We have completed the process of the reconfiguration of government, and that of putting in place systems that will help us change the way government works in order to improve service delivery.

“During this period, we also had time to study the functioning of the current administration in order to ascertain what works and what needs to be changed or strengthened,” Zuma told journalists at his presidential guest house in Pretoria, following a protracted wait for his announcement.

Responding to the news of the reshuffle, Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille called on Zuma to release the performance scores of the remaining ministers.

“We hope the reshuffle will improve service delivery and also send a strong signal to the new ministers that they too will be held accountable,” she said.

DA Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said: “While the cabinet reshuffle makes an important statement about the Zuma administration’s commitment to improving this government’s performance, it is important that accountability not be used as a guise to implement a political agenda. The removal of Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan, for instance, is surprising, given that Ms Hogan has certainly been one of the most competent ministers in the Zuma cabinet.

“Is she being relieved of her duties because she is also one of the most outspoken?”

The new ministers and deputy ministers would be sworn in this afternoon, Zuma said.

The president did not field questions from journalists after making the announcement.

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