Zuma faces a Cabi­net reshuf­fle co­nun­drum

CityPress - - Voices -

With for­mer African Union (AU) Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma back in the coun­try, and avail­able, the im­pend­ing Cabi­net reshuf­fle should start in earnest.

The in­ter­est­ing as­pect of how we do reshuf­fles in South Africa is that the pres­i­dent does not have to ac­count for why he is reshuf­fling in the first place. Or to ex­plain why he (it’s been all men so far) is mov­ing min­is­ters around like he is. For­mer pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki was not in­clined to dab­ble in reshuf­fles and did just one in a 10-year pe­riod. Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has al­ready reshuf­fled three times.

Be­cause he does not give rea­sons, me­dia and po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts have com­mented that Zuma shuf­fles his decks just to keep ev­ery­one on their toes, not know­ing what he would do next.

The other rea­son given is that, be­cause his po­lit­i­cal al­le­giances have changed so much, he con­stantly needs to up­date his Cabi­net to ac­com­mo­date new friends and dis­card fresh en­e­mies.

Zuma has con­sis­tently sent the mes­sage that Cabi­net ap­point­ments are his and his alone, and he does not like to be sec­ond-guessed. He views Cabi­net ap­point­ments as his pre­rog­a­tive, as his ran­cour about be­ing forced to re­verse the ap­point­ment of Des van Rooyen as fi­nance min­is­ter after four days il­lus­trated.

That un­prece­dented mo­ment in De­cem­ber 2015, when his fel­low ANC top six mem­bers forced him to move Van Rooyen, will reg­is­ter strongly as he pon­ders the cur­rent reshuf­fle.

Pub­licly, Zuma has never said he was go­ing to reshuf­fle. But last year, the SA Com­mu­nist Party said it had in­tel­li­gence that this was what Zuma was plan­ning and that some of its mem­bers in Cabi­net would be ca­su­al­ties. The likes of Thu­las Nx­esi, Blade Nz­i­mande and Jeremy Cronin have, after years of el­e­vat­ing and ven­er­at­ing him, turned against him.

When ru­mours of a reshuf­fle started last year, a per­son close to the pres­i­dent told me it was in fact Nz­i­mande who was re­spon­si­ble for spread­ing the ru­mour and sow­ing panic un­nec­es­sar­ily.

But the sus­pi­cion that Zuma was mov­ing to­wards a reshuf­fle gained ground after for­mer Eskom chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Brian Molefe was sworn in to Par­lia­ment. The des­per­a­tion with which the North West ANC spring­boarded him to Par­lia­ment sug­gested that he was go­ing there for a higher pur­pose than the back bench.

It is hard to imag­ine that Molefe, who used to earn more than R6 mil­lion per year at Eskom, would leave his life­style in Gaut­eng to go and set­tle in Cape Town for a salary of just R1 mil­lion. Molefe got a salary of R6.97 mil­lion and a bonus of R2.47 mil­lion in the 2016 fi­nan­cial year. This the strong­est in­di­ca­tion that some­thing is in the off­ing.

Se­condly, the hyped-up cel­e­bra­tions at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port on Wed­nes­day to wel­come Dlamini-Zuma were no­table.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials had said a month ago when the reshuf­fle spec­u­la­tion was at its peak, that those ru­mours could not be true be­cause Dlamini-Zuma was still tied to the AU. Now she is free and ready for de­ploy­ment.

There is a strong be­lief that Zuma would fo­cus on Trea­sury and re­move ei­ther Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gordhan or his deputy Mce­bisi Jonas to make way for some­one whom he can trust and rely on to carry out his in­struc­tions. But dy­nam­ics have changed. It is hard to imag­ine that the fi­nance min­is­ter or his deputy could be re­moved or shuf­fled around with­out touch­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Faith Muthambi.

Par­lia­ment last week called for Zuma to re­con­sider her po­si­tion after she was found to have over­stepped her au­thor­ity and in­ter­fered in SABC board mat­ters. Al­though the sen­ti­ment was that she should be fired, Par­lia­ment de­cided it did not have the pow­ers to in­struct Zuma what to do.

Zuma would also have to reckon with the po­si­tion of his close ally, Social Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Bathabile Dlamini, who can no longer jus­tify her Cabi­net po­si­tion after her in­cred­i­ble bungling of the con­tract re­lat­ing to the pay­ment of social grants. Zuma has so far pub­licly taken the nar­row view that as long as grants were paid on April 1, there was no cri­sis. But he knows that we would not be here, deal­ing with such “ab­so­lute in­com­pe­tence” (to quote Chief Jus­tice Mo­go­eng Mo­go­eng), if Dlamini had done her work.

Sud­denly, mat­ters have be­come com­pli­cated. How do you take out Gordhan, for whom the case for his re­moval must still be made, and keep Muthambi and Dlamini?

And he also has to take into ac­count the threat of a mass res­ig­na­tion by other Cabi­net min­is­ters if he touches the fi­nance port­fo­lio. This is be­cause what­ever other port­fo­lios he tam­pers with, the strong sus­pi­cion is that the fi­nance min­istry is the ul­ti­mate tar­get be­cause it has be­come a stum­bling block ow­ing to its strict in­sis­tence on ad­her­ence to pro­cure­ment reg­u­la­tions. This has frus­trated many Cabi­net min­is­ters, such as Dlamini, who want Trea­sury to “de­vi­ate” from nor­mal pro­cesses to ac­com­mo­date their mad­ness.

Rapule Tabane

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.