Cabinet reshuffle rumours: Unlikely to happen any time soon, but…

Renewed rumours of a mass cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa are unlikely to translate into changes in his executive any time in the near future, but they do reflect the political realignment taking place within the ANC ahead of its next leadership conference.

Last week, an unsourced list of names of cabinet ministers set to be moved by Ramaphosa appeared on social media, with the “big three” — Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — among those named for removal from office.

Mkhize was identified on the list for a swap with Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who held the health portfolio from 2009 to 2019, and Public Service and Administration minister Senzo Mchunu was named as water and sanitation minister.

According to a subsequent report in The Sunday Independent, Cele, Mkhize and Dlamini-Zuma were to be reshuffled after falling out with the president over the enforcement of regulations banning alcohol and tobacco products.

The changes were allegedly aimed at isolating Ramaphosa’s critics in the ANC leadership, according to the report.


Another target, according to the report, was Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, whose name was also raised in rumours of a cabinet reshuffle last year.

At the time, ANC insiders said Sisulu’s removal was aimed at stifling her presidential ambitions. Sisulu, who bid for the ANC presidency in 2017, but pulled out and backed Ramaphosa, has since aligned herself with former supporters of Dlamini-Zuma’s failed bid for the party presidency at Nasrec, ahead of a run for the ANC number one spot in 2022.

An ANC national executive committee member told the Mail & Guardian this week that it was “very unlikely” that the president would make changes to his cabinet at this point in time.

“I do not believe there would be changes made now, at the height of the fight against Covid-19. That would not make sense, certainly not in key portfolios that are at the centre of what the government is doing right now.”  

The NEC member said, although it had not held any discussion about a reshuffle, it was not general practice for the president to consult before making changes to the executive. “This is not something that is discussed at that level, but making major changes right now would not be the appropriate thing to do,” they said.

A second senior ANC member said that although the list was likely to be fake and generated by a faction in the party, the talk of a movement for Sisulu persisted. “Something will happen, but not now and not with all the names on that list.” 

“You will remember that there was an intention to make a change late last year and earlier this year in water and sanitation, which was advanced. Luthuli House intervened and asked that the minister be given time, which the president did. That discussion hasn’t gone away,” the source said.

Neither presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko nor ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe had responded to queries from the M&G at the time of publication.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

Related stories

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.

Meyiwa murder case postponed amid drama in court

The murder case of Senzo Meyiwa has been postponed to next month after the appearance of the five suspects in the Boksburg magistrate’s court took an unexpected turn

Johannesburg cannot police its future

South Africa’s biggest city is ground zero for debates about the long-term effectiveness and constitutionality of militarised urban policing and how we imagine the post-Covid city

Five suspects arrested in Senzo Meyiwa case

Police minister Bheki Cela announced on Monday that his team has arrested five suspects who were allegedly involved in the killing of former Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa.

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

‘We want to occupy the land,’ says EFF’s Malema at Senekal farm murder protest

The party and AfriForum staged protests outside the magistrate’s court during the bail application by two men accused of killing a farm manager in the eastern Free State
Advertising

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Malawi court judges win global prize

Members of the small African country’s judiciary took a stand for democracy to international approval

Durban city manager says NPA erred in his bail conditions

The corruption-fraught metro is coming to grips with having a municipal manager who is on bail for graft, yet has returned to work

Why anti-corruption campaigns are bad for democracy

Such campaigns can draw attention to the widespread presence of the very behaviour they are trying to stamp out — and subconsciously encourage people to view it as appropriate

Tax, wage bill, debt, pandemic: Mboweni’s tightrope budget policy statement

The finance minister has to close the jaws of the hippo and he’s likely to do this by tightening the country’s belt, again.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday