Dismissal 'shatters' ailing Shiceka

Sicelo Shiceka is “critically ill” and has been admitted to the Life Carstenhof Clinic in Midrand, Gauteng, following President Jacob Zuma’s decision to fire him. The former co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister was admitted to hospital a few days before Zuma axed him, apparently complaining of chest pains.

According to sources, Shiceka received a call on Monday morning from his special adviser, Nhlakanipho Nkontwana, informing him that the president wanted to see him urgently at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Moments later a jocund Shiceka asked permission from his doctors to leave hospital, assuring them that he would be back after a short meeting with Zuma. Shiceka, an imposing figure who enjoys the finer things in life, then scrambled for a designer suit for his meeting with the president.

The sources said a confident Shiceka left for the meeting under the impression that Zuma intended to discuss Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s review process. “He was in a good mood and thought the president wanted to discuss the findings of the Public Protector’s report with him,” said one source.

“However, Zuma took him by complete surprise when he told him his time was up. It took roughly five minutes for Zuma to explain himself. He [Shiceka] came back to the hospital in bad shape afterwards. He is shattered. Sometimes he doesn’t even recall that he has had a meeting with Zuma because of his depressed state of mind.”

When approached for comment, Nkontwana said Shiceka “has been sick for a long time”, but declined to comment further. Carstenhof chief executive Morgan Mkhatshwa said he would not discuss a patient’s condition with the media.

In her report, released two weeks ago, Madonsela found that Shiceka had acted improperly, unlawfully and dishonestly in abusing travel and accommodation privileges. Madonsela’s investigation was conducted after allegations surfaced early this year that Shiceka had abused public funds, notably by visiting a former girlfriend in jail in Switzerland in December 2008 and staying at various luxury hotels at taxpayers’ expense, including while he was on official sick leave.

Shiceka has been absent from work since February. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said “the president did the correct thing” in firing Shiceka, despite his condition.

Charles Molele

Charles Molele

Charles Molele is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. Charles joined the paper in 2011. He has covered general news, court and politics for the past 19 years, and also worked as a senior reporter for the Saturday Star, Sunday World, ThisDay, Sunday Times and is former politics editor of the New Age. Charles's other career highlights include covering Kenya's violent general elections (2007/08), Zimbabwe’s sham general elections (2008), Mozambique's food riots (2010) and the historic re-election of US President Barack Obama (2012). Read more from Charles Molele

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