South African Communist Party (SACP) first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila says President Jacob Zuma’s surprise Cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday morning is a distraction and a declaration of war on the ANC’s alliance partner.
SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande, a former supporter of Zuma, now his critic, was fired from Cabinet as the minister of higher education and training in the president’s second Cabinet reshuffle this year. Nzimande was replaced with former home affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.
Briefing the media in Johannesburg, Mapaila confirmed the president did not consult the ANC’s alliance partners on the latest changes to the national executive. He slammed Zuma for retaining underperforming ministers, saying his actions would have wider implications on the tripartite alliance.
“It is quite clear the decision has got nothing to do with strengthening the capacity of the State or Cabinet. He has retained dead wood in that Cabinet, people who are laced with corruption and scandals,” Mapaila said.
“This reshuffle is actually a decoy, there was no reshuffle actually. The intention was just to remove comrade Blade. Essentially, that’s what Zuma has done. It is an attack on the SACP, and we will effectively respond to him.”
Mapaila said the SACP would consult with its structures and convene an urgent meeting of its politburo to discuss the possibility of the party’s remaining Cabinet ministers resigning en masse from the executive. The SACP would also decide if Nzimande should remain an MP or return to the party’s headquarters.
“At the current time, we have decided that they must remain where they are and serve the interests of the people of South Africa, not the interests of Zuma,” Mapaila said.
He said Zuma only informed Nzimande of his axing from Cabinet after the Presidency released a statement to the media on the new changes to the executive.
“Only when the statement was released did he manage to call comrade Blade informing him he has taken this particular decision, when it was already in the media. This is an act of provocation,” he said.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the removal of Nzimande from Cabinet was a “pity”, saying the move by Zuma would further deepen strained relations within the ANC-led tripartite alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), the South African Communist Party (SACP), and the South African Civic Organisation (Sanco).
Mantashe also revealed that Zuma merely informed the party’s top six officials of his planned Cabinet reshuffle.