Fires Zuma must quench

President Jacob Zuma gets down to business on Saturday afternoon immediately after his inauguration. He will inherit some old problems: intra-alliance tensions and provincial ructions—and some new ones created by his choice of Cabinet and a new sucession race.

Succession battles
Tensions are already evident after ANC deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe changed his mind and made himself available for the deputy presidency of the country.

Motlanthe had indicated that he stood to lose all his presidential benefits if he accepted a deputy president position. This had allowed the women’s league to clamour for a woman, with Deputy President Baleka Mbete touted for the position.

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, whose influence in the ANC has increased in the past few years, is another candidate.

Many ANC leaders tried to undermine Motlanthe during his reign as president and this is unlikely to stop, even if he becomes deputy president.

Mbete put the ANC in a conundrum by declining to be sworn in as MP, although her name was called out during the swearing-in session on Wednesday.

She left the chamber after the first session and went to her office in Tuynhuys, where she was visited by several senior ANC leaders, including Lindiwe Sisulu and Angie Motshekga.

Insiders said they were all caught off guard by Mbete’s move. The Mail & Guardian has reliably learned that Mbete wants to force the ANC’s hand to appoint her as deputy president, leaving Motlanthe to go back to Luthuli House.

‘She wants to continue,” a source close to Mbete said. ‘She has no plans to vacate that office. She is carrying on as if she will still be there for years to come. She is scheduling meetings and her advisers are making long-term plans—things you don’t do if you’re not sure about your future.”

ANC Youth League president Julius Malema told the M&G this week he was confident Motlanthe would take over as deputy president of the country. He said the reason why his organisation insisted Motlanthe should return to Cabinet was to avoid the tensions that occurred between former president Thabo Mbeki and Zuma after Mbeki fired him as the country’s deputy president in 2005.

‘If Motlanthe goes back to the ANC, this will create a situation where some people within the ANC would want to align themselves with the ANC deputy president against Zuma,” he said. ‘We need to kill that. There must be close relations between Motlanthe and Zuma. We cannot afford to allow the gap between the two.”

Provincial tensions
Although the provincial party leaders have pledged their support for the new premiers, they have made it clear that they will rein in those who refuse to toe the line.

‘We would allow her space but she must just remember that she must consult,” said Northern Cape provincial youth league leader Alvin Botes about Hazel Jenkins. ‘The main thing for us is that she listens to us and doesn’t go off and do her own thing.”

The provincial executive committee (PEC) in the North West has decided to ‘deal openly” with new Premier Maureen Modiselle, amid unhappiness about the way she was unexpectedly parachuted to the top position by Luthuli House.

This week saw the first face-off between Modiselle and the ANC, when the two parties did not agree on her choice of provincial ministers. She threatened to walk out of the meeting. ‘She throws tantrums when things do not go her way,” said a PEC member. ‘It confirmed our suspicions that she was influenced by certain people in the national leadership.”

Her critics say she will be confused over whose orders to prioritise as she will have both the PEC’s and the national executive committee’s (NEC) expectations to fulfil.

In Gauteng, the provincial youth league backed down on its initial insistence that Nomvula Mokonyane should not accept her nomination. The league wanted former premier Paul Mashatile, but has since compromised.

But Mashatile’s supporters have not been defeated—they have merely retreated. The real struggles will start when Mokonyane reconfigures the power dynamics in the province.

Alliance ‘purge’
Cosatu in the Eastern Cape this week accused the ANC of marginalising the left from the provincial cabinet appointed by the new Premier,
Noxolo Kiviet.

Kiviet included only one of the three candidates proposed by the ANC’s allies: SACP central executive committee member Mandla Makucula, Cosatu provincial secretary Xola Phakathi and SACP treasurer Phumulo Masualle. Only Masualle made the cut, as health minister.

‘We view this as a purge of the left,” said Phakathi. ‘We thought the government would reflect the alliance, where winners wouldn’t take all.”

He said the ANC had not consulted Cosatu and the SACP, and ‘our submission was never considered from the beginning”. But Kiviet said her decision about the new cabinet was based on geographical spread and the principle of 50-50 gender parity.

Another consideration was the capacity and the strength of individual leaders to match the needs of government departments.

Cabinet
Zuma must perform a fine balancing act when he finalises his Cabinet. He insists it must be hard working and competent and not antagonise key stakeholders or markets.

Sources said he does not favour retaining Trevor Manuel as finance minister; this will be announced on Sunday. ‘He is definitely not coming back to the finance ministry. As president, you need someone that you have confidence in and who has political clout. Manuel will most likely head the Planning Commission in the presidency,” said an ANC NEC member.

Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, ANC executive committee member Enoch Godongwana and South African Revenue Services’ boss Pravin Gordhan are front-runners to replace Manuel.

Except for Correctional Services Minister Ngconde Balfour, Zuma is expected to retain all the current security ministers: Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Justice Minister Enver Surty, Defence Minister Charles Nqakula and Intelligence Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

Former youth leader Fikile Mbalula is tipped as minister of rural development, while senior communist Blade Nzimande is likely to take the new higher education and training portfolio.

Naledi Pandor and former Limpopo education minister Aaron Motswaledi are the front-runners for the primary and secondary education ministry.

Although Zuma is expected to retain Health Minister Barbara Hogan as a minister, she is unlikely to return to her current portfolio, say insiders.

Zuma is considering ANC veteran and former Limpopo health minister Joe Phaahla for the health ministry.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is expected to be moved to home affairs.

ML

ML

Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award.
  • Read more from ML
    • Client Media Releases

      Fedgroup drives industry reform in unclaimed benefits sector
      Hardworking students win big at architecture awards
      VUT presents 2019 registration introduction
      Vocational training: good start to great career