Nzimande may replace Nkoana-Mashabane – report

2013-04-14 06:00

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande’s name has been mentioned in a report as a possible replacement for International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

But senior ANC leaders and sources close to both ministers all said they knew nothing about this and were surprised to hear the news.

Africa Confidential, which publishes analyses on politics and economics in African countries, this week claimed “senior ANC sources” said Nzimande would be moved to the portfolio, either in the next reshuffle or after the 2014 elections, because Nkoana-Mashabane has struggled in her job and was being undermined.

It claims Nzimande has increasingly been advising President Jacob Zuma on foreign affairs and that Nzimande’s department would be hosting a Brics think-tank, the Africa Centre, that was supposed to have been hosted by Nkoana-Mashabane.

Nzimande, according to the report, “directly asked Zuma for the foreign ministry and, we understand, was granted his request”.

City Press spoke to eight sources.

Four of them are in the ANC’s national executive committee, three of them are close to Nkoana-Mashabane and two of them are close to Nzimande.

None of these sources said they had heard about plans for such a move.

A source close to Nkoana-Mashabane said “this speculation has been around for a long time. (Presidential adviser on international affairs) Lindiwe Zulu, (Public Service Minister) Lindiwe Sisulu, everyone wants this job,” he said.

Another source close to her in the ministry reacted with shock when told about the article. “It is the first I heard about this,” the source said.

Another source close to Nkoana-Mashabane said she had done well in her job and this was recognised by the party.

“No single South African foreign minister has been as successful as this woman in Africa. At the last summit of SADC, the President of Zambia (Michael Sata) said she knows her game, no wonder everybody agrees with her. People have been trying for years to get her to return to Limpopo as premier, but the president and others said no,” said the source.

A source close to ANC decision-making processes said only Zuma was responsible for deploying people into the Cabinet, and cast aspersions on the motive of those who are peddling the rumours.

“Comrade Maite has done well in putting South Africa on the map. She is very knowledgeable. You can’t take chances with Maite. When you listen to her, you hear a person who knows her story,” he said.

He said it was unlikely that the ANC would “just wake up and remove a person who is doing well”.

SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka said Cabinet appointments were a presidential prerogative and Nzimande had a year to go in his portfolio.

“It is unfair and too soon to be making that kind of speculation,” he said.

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