The South African Communist Party (SACP) has condemned President Jacob Zuma’s latest Cabinet reshuffle as a “factional removal” and “direct attack” against the party.
In a statement on Tuesday morning, Zuma announced that SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande had been booted from the higher education ministry. Hlengiwe Mhikze has been moved from the home affairs ministry to replace Nzimande as higher education minister.
Nzimande remains a member of Parliament. At least four other Cabinet positions were affected.
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The SACP said in a statement on Tuesday following the announcement of the reshuffle that Zuma had put the alliance at risk. Speculation had been mounting for months that Nzimande would be sacked after the SACP endorsed Cyril Ramaphosa to be the next ANC president and banned Zuma from speaking at its events.
Nzimande dismissed these rumours two weeks ago as a “media speculation”. His party is now enraged at Zuma for removing Nzimande “especially with the retention of so many deadwoods and compromised individuals in Cabinet”.
“We emphatically reject these manoeuvres that place the Alliance on the brink of disintegration. Our view is that this is not a reshuffle but the targeted removal of Cde Blade as a direct attack on the SACP,” the party said.
The party accused Zuma of “authoritarianism” saying that he had not consulted with the alliance – which comprises the SACP, Cosatu and the ANC – on the reshuffle. It also emphatically declared that it would remain critical of Zuma and his supporters for their role in state capture.
On Tuesday afternoon, in a rare show of agreement with Zuma, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said that his party welcomed the removal of Nzimande.
The presidency did not comment on the reshuffle in its announcement except to say that “careful consideration” had been applied to the decision.