President Jacob Zuma announced a major Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday, replacing ministers including those responsible for communications and labour.
Zuma told a press conference that the reshuffle was aimed at strengthening government ministries, improving the provision of basic services and improving the lives of the poor.
“Given the fact that we still face serious challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country, government has to work at a faster pace to change the lives of the poor,” Zuma said.
“We had to change the way government works in order to improve service delivery. Our mission was guided by improving the quality of the lives of South Africans.”
- Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda was replaced by Roy Padayachie. His deputy would be Obed Bapele.
- Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge was replaced by Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde.
- Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya was replaced by Lulu Xingwana.
- Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana was replaced by Mildren Oliphent.
- Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica was replaced by Edna Molewa.
- Public Service and Administration Minister Richard Baloyi was replaced by Ayanda Dlodlo.
- Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan was replaced by Malusi Gigaba. His deputy is Benedict Martin.
- Sports and Recreation Minister Makhenkesi Stofile was replaced by Fikile Mbalula.
- Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana was replaced by Paul Mashatile.
- Social Development Minister Edna Molewa was replaced by Bathabile Dlamini.
The biggest change was the replacement of Nyanda, a former head of the South African National Defence Force and a member of the African National Congress’s national working committee.
Opposition parties have accused Nyanda of poor performance while media reports raised instances of mismanagement in the ministry. He has also been dogged by allegations of companies connected to him landing hefty government contracts.
In January 2010, the Mail & Guardian established that Nyanda’s family trust owned a 45% stake in a company, GNS Risk Advisory Services, that had at least five contracts with government agencies, bringing it millions of rands in government business.
The company took the unusual step of approaching the South Gauteng High Court to set aside a decision regarding the findings of an internal Transnet disciplinary hearing. Charges against Gama involved a GNS security contract, ultimately worth about R55‑million
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found that Nyanda had breached the Executive Ethics Code by publicly supporting Siyabonga Gama before Transnet fired him for signing the contract in question.
Earlier this month another scandal erupted when the Sunday Independent reported that the day before she was axed as director general, Mamodupi Mohlala had reported tender irregularities worth R70-million to the police for a fraud and corruption investigation.
Nyanda’s department received a qualified audit this year — for the first time in five years — and he was severely criticised for his mismanagement and wasteful expenditure by the opposition Democratic Alliance.
He also became known as the “Minister of luxury” after stays at luxury hotels and extravagant spending on cars from public funds.
Nyanda was also a firm supporter of the proposed Protection of Information Bill, which has been seen as posing a threat to the freedom of the press in South Africa
Hogan ‘one of his best ministers’
“Zuma has just fired one of his best ministers in Barbara Hogan,” tweeted Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley shortly after the news of the reshuffle.
Hogan has been a principled voice in the ANC and the Cabinet, earning the ire of her colleagues for criticising government’s controversial decision to prevent the Dalai Lama from entering the country in 2009.
She earned a B+ in the M&G‘s Cabinet Report Card in 2009.
She was replaced by former ANC Youth League president Malusi Gigaba, who is known for toeing the party line.
Like Gigaba, young lions Paul Mashatile and Fikile Mbalula were also rewarded with ministry positions, following a heavy-handed campaign by the youth league for a “generational mix” in Zuma’s government.
However Mashatile and Mbalula may be disappointed — they’ve both received the ministry positions they’ve been hankering after but in the smaller portfolios of arts and culture and sports respectively.
Meanwhile the axing of Public Works Minister Geoff Doidge comes hard on the heels on his decision in August to place controversial contracts at the police ministry on ice, following reports of tender irregularities by Bheki Cele, the head of police.
The new team was expected to be sworn into office on Monday at 2pm.
Zuma extended his gratitude to the seven outgoing ministers, saying they would be deployed within government.
Zuma was initially expected to address the media at 2.30pm, but journalists were made to wait for four hours, with no reasons being given for the president’s delay.
He finally made the announcement after 6pm and journalists were denied the opportunity to ask Zuma any questions.
Rumours of reshuffle
The Mail & Guardian broke the reshuffle story on March 12, when anxiety was starting to grow in the Cabinet. Zuma had in that week, in an interview with the M&G, denied he would be reshuffling his executive, but sources in the Cabinet said at the time that in addition to rooting out non-performers, Zuma also wanted to strengthen his political base within the government.
The Sunday Independent also reported last week that a Cabinet reshuffle was imminent.
Cabinet spokesperson Themba Maseko said in an emailed statement at the time that “only the president knows whether or not there will be a reshuffle”.
It was announced at the time that pro-business planning chief Trevor Manuel would stay in his current position while taking on a new role — assisting Zuma with a pan-African infrastructure development programme.
“It’s not to replace his job,” said government spokesperson Dumisa Jele of Manuel’s new role. “He still is head of the National Planning Commission.”
Manuel, a former finance minister, has publicly disagreed with the left-leaning allies of the African National Congress. His departure could have dented investor confidence in the ANC. – Sapa, Reuters