Why Zuma reshuffled his Cabinet
Accused of nefarious intents, Zuma insists he could no longer work with Gordhan
President Jacob Zuma did not consult his fellow ANC officials extensively about his reshuffle on Thursday as he felt betrayed that they had leaked information he gave them at the initial reshuffle meeting on Monday. City Press was briefed by a close Zuma confidante about his actions this week, which have earned him the ire of many in the party.
This follows criticism from ANC SecretaryGeneral Gwede Mantashe and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa that they were not consulted, but merely informed about the reshuffle. In an unprecedented move, the two senior party officials distanced themselves from the Cabinet reshuffle.
Mantashe said: “The [Cabinet] list was given to us complete. The list might have been developed somewhere for us [the ANC top six] to legitimise.”
ANC Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize was also quoted as saying Zuma had conducted his consultation differently and gave the impression that the ANC was no longer the political centre.
But Zuma was apparently peeved that everything he had told the officials on Monday had found its way to the media.
“He was deeply hurt by what happened after Monday. So, this time he did not want to read about what he said in the newspapers the following day. Why should he take them into his confidence under these circumstances?
“Another example: Immediately after the president called them [officials] to the meeting on Thursday evening, journalists were calling us about the meeting, even before the meeting happened. The trust had been broken.”
He said Zuma had effected the reshuffle because he felt there were weak areas that needed strengthening and also wanted to leave a legacy of young leadership.
“He is hoping that the next president will also continue with them and give them a chance.”
For example, he said Zuma believed that former sports minister Fikile Mbalula would add energy to the police portfolio, where he has been deployed.
The official disputed the notion that former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was removed because he was incorruptible and stood in the way of people who wanted to loot the Treasury.
“By the way, it is an insult to suggest that other ministers are corrupt and Pravin is the only one who is not.”
Gordhan had been removed because his relationship with the president had collapsed. “They could not stand each other. There was just bad blood.”
Zuma is also believed to be convinced that Gordhan was running a campaign against him.
“If he [Gordhan] had stayed, there would have been more paralysis. Every day there was this or that issue concerning Gordhan, and people started asking [Zuma]: ‘Why are you keeping him?’”
Did Zuma take into account the likely negative effect on the rand?
The official said Zuma knew there would be anxiety about who would take over, but once a name was announced, everyone would get used to the person.
He said Zuma had appointed Malusi Gigaba in this key portfolio because the former ANC Youth League president was a capable minister who had performed in every portfolio he had been given.
Gigaba started as a deputy minister of home affairs in 2004, after he was appointed to the post by then president Thabo Mbeki.
“The president likes Malusi because he works hard and has distinguished himself in all the portfolios he has been assigned.”
He added that Zuma had never been forgiven by the black lobby for removing former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and replacing him with Gordhan in 2015.
“People said to him, by doing that, he was giving an impression that there was no black African who can run finance. So, he was determined to make the right appointment.”
He said Zuma had appointed Ayanda Dlodlo to replace Faith Muthambi as communications minister because she was an excellent communicator.
Muthambi has been criticised for her absence in the portfolio. Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe ended up doing most of the work.
Last week, Zuma relieved Radebe of his communication responsibilities because he wanted him to focus more on his planning, monitoring and evaluation duties, as well as on promoting the work of the National Development Plan.
Asked why Muthambi had not been fired after the National Assembly recommended that Zuma act against her for her mishandling of the SABC, the official said Zuma believed that with her legal qualifications, Muthambi could still contribute to government.
Muthambi has taken over as minister of public service and administration. “She is a strict bureaucrat who pays attention to prescripts and we think she will do well in the post,” said the official.
As to why disgraced Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini had not been fired over the social grants debacle, the official said she was not out of the woods yet. “The president is monitoring developments in the department and the process has not run its course.”
SOLIDARITY Graça Machel greets Barbara Hogan, widow of struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada, at his memorial service, which was held at Johannesburg City Hall yesterday. A strident Hogan led the call to topple President Jacob Zuma