Without giving any reasons to the journalists at the press conference at the Union Buildings on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma reshuffled the cabinet for the fourth time in as many years. A tense Zuma went through the parliamentary changes showing little emotion and offering nothing in the way of explanations.
The biggest surprise was the dismissal of Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale. Relations between Sexwale and the president have been tested since Sexwale set his sights on the executive seat as the head of the ruling party a few years ago. Sexwale sought to be elected as president of ANC in 2007. President at the time, Thabo Mbeki, was recalled in one of the most controversial moves by the ruling party. He was replaced by Jacob Zuma who had the staunch support of Julius Malema. No one could have predicted that six years later; Julius Malema would not be the president of the ANC Youth League.
President Jacob Zuma announced that Tokyo Sexwale would be replaced by ANC Member of Parliament Connie September as the new Minister of Human Settlements. Richard Baloyi was also shown the door. Lechesa Tsenoli takes his place as the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. Dina Pule is no longer the Minister of Communications. Her position is now filled by Yunus Carrim who was previously the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Zuma simply swapped the roles of Dipuo Peters and Ben Martins around. Peters is the new Minister of Transport after drawing attention to the country’s advances in the science and technology fields as the Minister of Energy. Ben Martins replaces Peters as the Minister of Energy.
John Jeffery made offensive remarks about DA MP Lindiwe Mazibuko’s weight. Jeffery later offered an apology. He takes over from Andries Nel in the role of Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development. With immediate effect, President Zuma appointed Andries Nel as the Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. ANC MPs Michael Masutha and Pamela Tshwete resume their duties as Deputy Minister of Science and Technology and Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform respectively.
President Jacob Zuma did not open the floor to journalists for questions and ended the press conference with an abrupt: “Thank you very much, and goodbye.” The DA believes that this unexpected cabinet reshuffle is one of Zuma’s political survival strategies.