In scorched earth policy, Zuma goes for broke with enemies!
By John Eche
President Jacob Zuma’s firing of Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande in his latest cabinet reshuffle, the second in less than seven months, is stirring more trouble for the embattled South African leader.
In a terse move which polity watchers say is a continuation of his now preferred strategy of ‘taking the battle to the gates of his enemies,’ Zuma had announced that after “careful consideration”, he had decided to make six changes to his Cabinet that includes shifting ministers who had just been appointed to new portfolios during the controversial midnight March reshuffle that had seen to the ouster of respected Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan.
Significantly, the purge is coming days to the crucial 54th Leadership Conference of the ruling ANC where Zuma is locked in a frenetic battle to ensure that his protege and ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma emerges as the new leader-designate of the ANC, which would also put her one step away from succeeding him as President of the Republic.
The changes include moving Hlengiwe Mkhize to the higher education portfolio and bringing in the ‘fresh’ Bongani Thomas Bongo as state security minister.
According to commentators, ousting Nzimande is seen as an act of going for the jugular through clamping down on dissent in his Cabinet. Before now, Nzimade as general secretary of the ruling ANC’s long-time alliance partner, the South African Communist Party, SACP had been in the forefront of the growing agitation that Zuma plainly has to quit office in the interest of the ANC, its alliance partners and indeed the nation.
Relations between Zuma and Nzimande have been described to be at an all time low, as the SACP that had propelled him to power, had turned out to be one of his biggest critics.
The party, which is in an alliance with the ANC has called for Zuma to step down and has banned him from addressing its events.
The turning point in the relationship, was when SACP deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila, publicly announced that Zuma had used a “dodgy” intelligence report to fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas.
The badly written report claimed that Gordhan was leading a campaign to oust Zuma.
Zuma is said to have also cancelled alliance council meetings to discuss the fallout within the tripartite alliance.
Other appointments in the current change of guards include Ayanda Dlodo, who was minister of communications, and will now handle the home affairs portfolio. Mmamaloko Kubayi, who was in charge of energy will take up a position as minister of communications.
David Mahlobo, who was minister of state security, will now head-up the energy portfolio.
Deputy minister in the office of the presidency Buti Manamela will now be the deputy minister of higher education.
This comes after Mduduzi Manana quit the position following his assault of three women at the Cubana nightclub in August. He was subsequently convicted of assault after pleading guilty.
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa