ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was sworn in as a member of Parliament on Thursday amid speculation that yet another Cabinet reshuffle looms.
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Mr Matthew Wolmarans just sworn in as National Assembly MPs pic.twitter.com/iyRnGhjcMC
— Moloto Mothapo (@MolotoMothapo) September 21, 2017
It remains unclear which position Dlamini-Zuma will be deployed to fill, but she said immediately after she was sworn in at the deputy speaker’s office that she has no knowledge if she will be sent to Cabinet.
“I’ve been informed by the office of the chief whip and the [secretary general] of the ANC that I’m coming here to be a member of Parliament. They have not told me anything else. So, as far as I’m concerned I’m to Parliament to be a member of Parliament. I’ve been sworn in, that’s all I know,” she said.
Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni told the Mail & Guardian that it is unlikely that the Zuma camp’s candidate for ANC president will sit on the sidelines. “… She won’t be a backbencher in Parliament,” Fikeni said.
The ANC confirmed that Dlamini-Zuma would become an MP after National Executive Committee member Pule Mabe departed the National Assembly almost two weeks ago. The rumours of an impending reshuffle have been accompanied by reports Dlamini-Zuma would replace Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Fikeni, however, said that the pressure on the higher education ministry to deliver free education may set Dlamini-Zuma up for failure and hinder her campaign.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga agreed with with Fikeni’s view, telling the Mail & Guardian the South African Communist Party (SACP) would “wage war” if Nzimande were to be axed.
The speculation that a Cabinet reshuffle is imminent come as President Jacob Zuma is reportedly making preparations for his exit strategy.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has meanwhile defended Dlamini-Zuma’s deployment, answering critics in the party’s own branches who alleged that her MP status was a result of her last name.
“We are not deploying her because she is a Zuma. We are deploying her because in the original list to Parliament, she was in the top 20. She is back now, when we adapt the list, we have to reverse her back [sic],” he told ANC members over the weekend.
Dlamini-Zuma was previously appointed to Cabinet in 1994 where she served as health minister before later becoming African Union chairperson.