You would think that with a president who changes his Cabinet so often, we would at least be used to the way Jacob Zuma shuffles the cards.
In the eight-and-a-half years he has been in office, he has made 132 changes in 11 reshuffles. Yet, the country sat stunned and questioning yesterday after his latest dramatic adjustments.
The firing of SA Communist Party stalwart Blade Nzimande should have been expected, given his outspoken position that Zuma should fall – but the reshuffle was, neverthless, seen by the communists as a virtual declaration of war on them by Zuma … and there were dire predictions of the imminent collapse of the Tripartite Alliance.
Zuma attempted to soften the divorce by appointing Young Communist League leader Buti Manamela to a deputy minister position, but the continuing bad relations between him and the SACP and unions, as represented by Cosatu, shows clearly the president believes he doesn’t need them in his campaign to retain control over the levers of power in the ANC and the government.
One of those key levers will, undoubtedly, be David Mahlobo, the former state security minister who is one of Zuma’s most loyal palace guards, and who has been appointed to run the department of energy.
That department, commentators have noted ominously, is the one which will drive the proposed, but currently stalled, R1 trillion nuclear power station programme.
The scale of that project offers unprecedented opportunities for enrichment on a grand scale – for both government functionaries and business people.
Zuma has, so far, been impervious to all threats – criminal, constitutional and moral – which have confronted him.
The latest Cabinet reshuffle would seem to show he continues to pursue his own agenda – and will continue to do so until he officially steps down from the Union Buildings in 2019.
And, possibly even after that …