Ax­ing Blade ‘could be fa­tal for co­matose al­liance’

Mail & Guardian - - News - Given Si­gauqwe

The South African Com­mu­nist Party (SACP) and labour fed­er­a­tion Cosatu have warned that another Cabi­net reshuf­fle so soon af­ter the last one in March would paral­yse an al­ready di­vided tri­par­tite al­liance.

The spec­u­la­tion about another reshuf­fle comes af­ter the ANC con­firmed that for­mer African Union Com­mis­sion chair­per­son Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would be sworn in as an MP. This fol­lowed the de­par­ture of ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee mem­ber Pule Mabe from the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

A for­mer min­is­ter of health, home af­fairs and for­eign af­fairs, DlaminiZuma is tipped to re­place SACP boss Blade Nz­i­mande as higher ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter. Nz­i­mande, for­merly one of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s close al­lies, has lately be­come one of his most vo­cal crit­ics.

Zuma is also ex­pected to use the op­por­tu­nity to fill the po­si­tion left by for­mer deputy higher ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter Mduduzi Manana, who re­signed af­ter as­sault­ing a Jo­han­nes­burg woman in Au­gust.

The SACP and Cosatu asked the pres­i­dent to step down af­ter a latenight Cabi­net reshuf­fle in March, in which for­mer fi­nance min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han and his deputy, Mce­bisi Jonas, were booted out.

Cosatu spokesper­son Sizwe Pamla said the fed­er­a­tion would not spec­u­late about Nz­i­mande be­ing re­placed, but warned that any such move was likely to fur­ther crip­ple an al­liance that is al­ready in a “crit­i­cal con­di­tion” be­cause of Zuma.

“There is a lot of spec­u­la­tion, so we are find­ing it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to en­gage with the is­sue but I will say that the al­liance is al­ready in a coma be­cause of the ANC’s in­abil­ity to hold the pres­i­dent ac­count­able,” he said.

“In­stead of pro­tect­ing South Africa against loot­ing, they [the ANC] have openly bent over back­wards to pro­tect the pres­i­dent, and that is why the al­liance is in the crit­i­cal po­si­tion that it is in to­day.

“Zuma has sin­gle-hand­edly liq­ui­dated the al­liance and, if he de­cides to fire the higher ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ter, he will be mir­ror­ing the other self-cen­tred de­ci­sions he has made in the past that have dis­man­tled this al­liance,” said Pamla.

Act­ing SACP spokesper­son Mh­lekwa Nx­u­malo warned that the al­liance would suf­fer if a Cabi­net reshuf­fle is done for the wrong rea­sons.

“We have heard re­ports from the me­dia of an im­mi­nent Cabi­net reshuf­fle fol­low­ing the ANC’s an­nounce­ment that Dlamini-Zuma will be sworn in as MP, and we have also heard ru­mours of com­rade Blade’s ax­ing,” he said.

“Whether com­rade Blade is re­moved or not is not im­por­tant. How we will act will be de­ter­mined by the rea­sons given for the reshuf­fle. While we wel­come the de­ploy­ment of Dlamini-Zuma as an MP, we will not wel­come a reshuf­fling that will al­low more cor­rup­tion and loot­ing to hap­pen, be­cause the lat­ter would fin­ish off the al­liance.”

The pres­i­dent of the Umkhonto weSizwe Mil­i­tary Vet­er­ans As­so­ci­a­tion (MKVA), Kebby Maphat­soe, who has thrown his weight be­hind Dlamini-Zuma, said the or­gan­i­sa­tion wel­comed her ap­point­ment.

“On the is­sue of the reshuf­fle, we, as the MKVA, dis­tance our­selves from ru­mours be­cause they are meant to desta­bilise the ANC. But we ac­cept and ap­pre­ci­ate the de­ploy­ment of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma be­cause she has a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence and un­der­stands both Par­lia­ment and gov­ern­ment. With the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence [of the ANC] com­ing, this will give her time to in­ter­act with mem­bers of Par­lia­ment, par­tic­u­larly those of the ANC.”

Univer­sity of the Wit­wa­ter­srand po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Su­san Booy­sen said: “Yes, the al­liance is in a dis­mal state but I highly doubt Nz­i­mande’s re­moval would have any sig­nif­i­cant and im­me­di­ate ef­fects. How­ever, I do be­lieve that the de­ci­sion will go a long way in de­ter­min­ing what hap­pens to the al­liance af­ter the De­cem­ber con­fer­ence.

“If Dlamini-Zuma emerges vic­to­ri­ous, then that might spell the end of the al­liance as we know it, whereas a CR [Cyril Ramaphosa] win might well strengthen the al­liance since both the SACP and Cosatu have called for the pres­i­dent to step down.”

Zuma’s spokesper­son, Bon­gani Ngqu­lunga, said the pres­i­dent’s of­fice would not com­ment on spec­u­la­tion.

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