Shuffles, shocks and surprises


Like many of my fellow South Africans, I’m wondering how long it will be before our new tourism minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, starts importing Cuban waiters now that she’s been moved from the department of human settlements, water and sanitation.

Given Sisulu’s track record regarding issues around water, sanitation and human settlements, and her general penchant for bizarre, hard-to-justify appointments, it shouldn’t take more than a couple of months before we are forking out billions to fly in housekeepers and grill hands from Havana.

Car guards from Santiago de Cuba.

I almost feel sorry for all the radical economic transformation (RET) heavyweights Sisulu placed on the boards of the water and housing entities under her control after she was appointed in May 2019.


Unlike Cuba’s rickshaw drivers, Sisulu’s lateral movement in last Thursday night’s cabinet reshuffle means the future looks bleak for former ANC Youth League leader Magasela Mzobe, ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini and the other RETs she brought in when she cleaned out the water and housing entity boards.

It’s not just the new-brooms-sweep-clean syndrome that comes with every cabinet reshuffle.

Sisulu’s successor in the water and sanitation arm of the newly split portfolio, Senzo Mchunu, is one of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s most key loyalists, stood as secretary general on the CR17 slate at Nasrec in December 2017, and was, political legend has it, robbed of the post.

Mchunu was also recalled as KwaZulu-Natal premier by the RET faction in the ANC in May 2016 after losing as chairperson to Sihle Zikalala the previous November.

Perhaps Mzobe and company might end up competing with their imported Cuban comrades for the tourism jobs in the not-so-distant future.


Former president Jacob Zuma’s illness means there’s plenty of time to watch his successor finally return to the Zondo commission to wrap up his testimony in his capacity as former deputy president of the governing party and the Republic.

Nxamalala’s admission to an outside medical facility on Friday meant the case was never going to sit for the week as planned; and that Zuma — and the rest of us — will have to continue to wait for his much anticipated day in court.

Which may take a while to arrive, especially if the former head of state is actually really ill, requiring surgery and lengthy rehabilitation and recovery.

In many ways it would be better for Nxamalala — and the rest of us if he isn’t really ill  — if uBaba’s malady is just a bad case of the Shaiks, aimed at delaying the corruption case again and building the case for a de facto medical parole on his 15 months for contempt for refusing to go back to Zondo.

This way the trial — or at least the arguments about whether or not prosecutor Billy Downer should be removed from the case — will go ahead on 8 September.

Perhaps Zuma just wanted to get some payback, chose to spend the week watching Ramaphosa wriggling on the stand at Zondo rather than taking the stand in the Pietermaritzburg high court and doing some wriggling himself, and dropped the sick note to ensure nobody spoiled the moment for him.

Nxamza probably spent a couple of days hooked up to an EGC mshini at the clinic which the South African medical health services so kindly built in his back garden during his first term as president; laughing his lungs out watching Cyril squirming while trying to clean up the mess he left for him — on a freshly looted eleventy-seven-inch flatscreen TV.

He .



After all, what’s the court going to do to Zuma if he is swinging the lead?  

Send him to jail?

Like many of my fellow South Africans, I was surprised — and shocked — by how surprised — and shocked — Ramaphosa appeared to be about the amount of theft, looting and general pillage of the state’s coffers, the gutting of the organs of state, that went on during his term as deputy to Zuma.

After all, Ramaphosa spent four years serving as Zuma’s No 2 in government — longer as his deputy in the governing party and chairperson of its deployment committee — so it seems a little strange that he wouldn’t have noticed all those Gupta lootenants being appointed to the finance ministry or to the boards of state-owned entities.

Perhaps Ramaphosa was too busy — with the farms and the buffaloes and the like — to notice what was going on around him in the cabinet and at Luthuli House, or to read the newspapers.

Perhaps Ramaphosa spent the four years asleep on the job, only waking up and smelling the state capture when Zuma’s term was almost up and it was time to make his own bid for the presidency.


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Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper

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