Blade Nzimande is axed by Zuma

Blade Nzimande

President Jacob Zuma has reshuffled his executive – again. The most important removal is South African Communist Party secretary-general Blade Nzimande from his post as Minister of Higher Education. The Cape Messenger reports

President Jacob Zuma has fired Blade Nzimande as Higher Education Minister. He is replaced by Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, who moves from the ministry of Home Affairs.

The removal of Nzimande has been a long time in coming. The pro Zupta TV channel, ANN7, has for some weeks predicted that Nzimande – whose SACP has called for the president to resign – would get the axe.

Zuma loyalist Buti Manamela has been appointed deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training. He replaces Mduduzi Manana, who resigned in August over an assault scandal.

The reshuffle has had a ripple impact on the cabinet. Mkhize is replaced by Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who was Minister of Communications. She is replaced at Communications by Mmamaloko Kubayi, who has been Minister of Energy.

EWN reported as far back as May that Nzimande criticised the March reshuffle – when Pravin Gordhan got the axe as Finance Minister. He said it was an abuse of power. He said it followed the same pattern as the mistakes made by former President Thabo Mbeki who had tried to create an imperial presidency.

He said at a Cosatu meeting in Pretoria in May: “The fact that the last cabinet reshuffle happened outside the (SACP, Cosatu and ANC) alliance is a problem and an abuse of the prerogative. The prerogative does not belong to you as an individual; it belongs to us as the movement.”

ANN7 has previously reported that it was expected that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the president’s ex-wife and a candidate for the governing African National Congress presidency, would be appointed either as Minister of Health or to replace Nzimande at Higher Education. However, her name does not appear in the listings – at the moment. The Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi – who has also been critical of the Zuma presidency, and is believed to have voted against him in the August vote of no confidence at Parliament – has survived this reshuffle.

Significantly the deputy minister of public works Jeremy Cronin – until recently Nzimande’s deputy in the SACP – has survived the purge. Cronin was, until earlier this year, deputy secretary general of the SACP. He too has been highly critical of the president at public engagements – but he appears to have survived for now as a member of the national executive.

It is significant that the Energy Minister has been changed again. Commentators have said that this is the ministry which needs to drive the nuclear deal through with Russia – which President Zuma wants. The new minister is David Mahlobo, the former Minister of State Security.

The energy ministry was also reshuffled in March. Longstanding Zuma accolyte, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, was axed. She had apparently refused to sign off the nuclear deal. This ended a long relationship between her and Zuma. She had until her axing over the nuclear deal done all his biddings – in the Agriculture portfolio before the Energy portfolio. She has left politics and resigned as an MP.

Mahlobo replaces Mmamoloko Kubayi as Minister of Energy.

Here is the statement from the presidency with the other changes:

“After careful consideration, I have decided to make the following changes to the National Executive;

1. Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize is the Minister of Higher Education and Training

2. Ms Ayanda Dlodlo is the Minister of Home Affairs
3. Ms Mmamaloko Kubayi is the Minister of Communications

4. Mr David Mahlobo is the Minister of Energy

5. Adv. Bongani Thomas Bongo is the Minister of State Security

6. Mr Buti Manamela is the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training

President Zuma said: “I thank the former members of the National Executive for good service in their previous portfolios. I wish the members who are assuming new portfolios all the best in their new responsibilities.”

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