Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Sicelo Shiceka has been told that he will be removed from Cabinet, senior ANC sources told the Mail & Guardian on Thursday.
The race is on for his successor, with several provinces and factions wanting to ensure that their own candidate gets the job.
Three Gauteng ANC officials told the M&G that the ANC’s top six officials arranged for a representative to meet Shiceka to inform him that he will not return to his position, even if he recovers from the illness that has caused him to be placed on indefinite sick leave.
But ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he was unaware of such a visit. Shiceka is believed to be in the Eastern Cape, his home province.
The ANC has been under enormous pressure to get rid of Shiceka because of his dismal performance as minister and the sorry state of municipalities. He has also been accused of misusing government funds by, among other things, going to Switzerland to see a girlfriend in jail.
Several turnaround strategies for local government have yet to bear fruit. During the recent municipal election campaign, President Jacob Zuma said he now understood “why people protest” about service delivery.
Shiceka has been on sick leave since early this year and did not participate in the election campaign. Police Minister Nathi Mthetwa has stepped in as acting minister. Possible successors for Shiceka include former Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo, who is deputy speaker in Parliament. Her tenure as mayor was marred by controversy.
Sources said others in the running include former Durban mayor Obed Mlaba, former Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo and Shiceka’s deputy, Yunus Carrim. The ANC in Gauteng is lobbying hard for the inclusion of Masondo in the Cabinet, citing his experience as chairperson of the South African Local Government Association.
Several ANC sources in the province confirmed that Masondo was waiting to be redeployed after finishing his term as mayor. “He said he will rest for a while and then the ANC will give him further tasks to do,” an ANC leader based in Johannesburg said.
A provincial leader said deployment responsibilities lay with the provincial party structures. “But because he [Masondo] served on higher structures, national [ANC structures] should also be tasked with this,” he said.
For Masondo or Mlaba to join the Cabinet, they would have to be sworn in as MPs. Zuma has used the two Cabinet seats reserved for non-MPs to appoint Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.
Gauteng, led by provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile, wants to ensure that those considered allies are in positions of power in preparation for the 2012 ANC conference. Mashatile is believed to be eyeing the position of national chairperson.
As chairperson of the informally constituted committee of ANC provincial chairpersons, Mashatile is considered to be more politically influential than ever. He is believed to have lobbied successfully for Deputy Health Minister Gwen Ramakgopa to swap her position of Tshwane mayor for a place in Zuma’s executive.