South Africa’s President Beefs up His Power with a Brutal Cabinet Reshuffle
This hub is an installment of the series 'Noteworthy Trend of Events in South Africa'.
Cabinet Reshuffle Shocks and Infuriates
South Africans are flabbergasted and furious since Thursday night / Friday morning, when their president's most brutal and irrational cabinet-reshuffle hit the country like a devastating tornado.
In an unrelenting display of power, President Jacob Zuma made twenty changes in his cabinet, including the firing of five ministers despite opposition from his party (the ANC) and alliance partners.
A nation-wide outrage broke out on Friday morning when South Africans woke up to see President Zuma on TV, announcing the changes he has made. The grim expression on his face sent shivers through this owfma-SA and most certainly through millions of others.
“I have decided to make changes to the national executive in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The changes bring some younger MPs and women into the national executive in order to benefit from their energy, experience and expertise. I have directed the new ministers and deputy ministers to work tirelessly with their colleagues to bring about radical socio-economic transformation and to ensure that the promise of a better life for the poor and the working class becomes a reality.” –— President Zuma, Friday, March 31st
Explanation of Cabinet Reshuffle
Those who know what’s going on in the political playground of South Africa cannot be fooled by such a fawning announcement! The cabinet reshuffle is obviously designed by a shrewd, corrupt and selfish brain.
Yet, while the President still refuses to explain his reshuffle, he referred to it on Friday at Mbizana Rural Development Hub investment launch in the Eastern Cape as, "We are very busy trying to fix what is wrong in the country."
The people of South Africa know that the three ministries that could prevent the finalizing of the very controversial Nuclear deal with Russia- the Energy Portfolio, Public Enterprises, and National Treasury – were deliberately manned through the reshuffle with pro-Zuma ministers and deputy ministers. (The Nuclear procurement plan will enrich President Jacob Zuma, his family, his cronies, and the Gupta-family, but will leave South Africa with horrendous debt for decades.)
The reshuffle will also materialize President Zuma's 'radical socio-economic transformation' regarding the amendment of the Constitution in order to allow expropriation of land and assets without compensation.
Irrational Axing of Ministers
The firing of the highly competent and efficient Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, and his equally efficient and respected deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, has been condemned by all opposition parties and even by the president's own party, the ANC.
Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa -
“I am especially unhappy about the firing of Gordhan and his deputy, to which the financial markets will react negatively. I think it is totally unacceptable that he [Zuma] fired for his own gain and survival someone like Gordhan, who has served the country excellently.... The action Zuma has against Gordhan is based solely on assumptions… I told the president so, that I would not agree with him on his reasoning.”
ANC Secretary-General, Gwede Mantashe -
"For the first time, [ANC] officials could not agree [with the president] or endorse the changes. The president had to invoke the prerogative derived from the Constitution of the Republic…. This reshuffle was not done in consultation with the ANC. We were given a list that was developed elsewhere.”
The ANC’s Chief Whip in parliament, Jackson Mthembu, also publicly expressed his unhappiness at Zuma’s decision to fire Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas from his cabinet. (Gordhan and Jonas are still Members of Parliament, though no longer ministers in the president's cabinet.)
President Zuma's detractors believe that Gordhan and his deputy were fired because they refused to sign off on certain deals, including deals at the country’s biggest parasite, the South African Airways (SAA), and the Nuclear deal with Russia. President Zuma, however, justified the axing of Gordhan and Jonas in a flimsy and obviously self-designed intelligence report that claims Gordhan and Jonas were gaining support to remove Zuma from office. (Due to this report, Gordan's international investor roadshow was brutally ended by President Zuma on Monday, March 27th.)
Despite the flimsiness of the report, and warnings that it cannot be regarded as the truth, President Zuma used his prerogative as president and fired Gordhan and Jonas.
He replaced Gordhan with former Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, who was, in his capacity as the Minister of Public Enterprises, bribed by the Guptas into awarding them a contract that enabled them to supply South Africa’s Airline with a new fleet valued at R10-bilion. Gigaba also used his influence to wrest a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport from the Oppenheimers for the Guptas. It is also known that Gigaba was rewarded for handing over the SAA route to India to the Gupta airline. Gigaba is now South Africa's fourth finance minister in two years.
Deputy Minister Jonas was replaced with ANC Member of Parliament, Sfiso Buthelezi - a highly educated man who holds master’s, honorary and BCom degrees in economics, but who was also fingered by the Public Protector for less than honest deals while he was the chairman of the PRASA Board. He, too, has links with the Gupta family.
The Minister of Tourism and head of the ANC’s disciplinary committee, Derek Hanekom, who has led a call for President Zuma to step down in November 2016, was also axed, as well as the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson who is part of the faction that is against the Nuclear deal with Russia.
While these and other ministers were fired without significant reasons, others like Faith Muthambi and Bathabile Dlamini, who have clearly proved themselves completely incompetent, were left secured in their chairs, as they are merely puppets that will endorse every decision and action of their president.
With Thursday's cabinet-reshuffle, President Zuma has strengthened the pro-Zuma-pro-Gupta faction in the ANC. He has also ensured the appointment of his successor in 2019: Someone who will protect him against his enemies who can’t wait to hold him accountable for all the crimes he has committed before and during his presidency.
Meanwhile South Africa’s currency, the Rand, dropped by 5% - its biggest weekly decline since December 2015 when President Zuma unexpectedly fired the previous Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene.
Foreigners own almost 40% of the value of JSE listed shares. When they sell their shares it would negatively impact on equity investors, including South African pension and provident funds, which hold SA’s retirement savings.
The negative repercussions of his actions seem to be of no concerns to the president of South Africa, as his personal interests are his only priority.
High-Profile Responses to the Cabinet Reshuffle
“Zuma’s actions were of a president who had gone “rogue”. [The reshuffle] is a dastardly deed done in a dark corner of the country.” - Political activist Barbara Hogan, partner of deceased struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada.
“This replacement of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy is an open attack on the institution of National Treasury."- Economist Matthew le Cordeur of fin24.com.
“This move means that the Zuma kleptocracy is making a desperate bid to cling on to power in the face of overwhelming opposition..." - Save SA Steering Committee member, Lawson Naidoo.
“.... it is a “coup against the people of South Africa." - Former General Secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions, Zwelinzima Vavi, the coiner of the phrase, "Don't moan; mobilise!”
“This can be viewed as a desperate bid by the Zuma faction and associates such as the Guptas to drive the pro-nuclear agenda.” - Hartmut Winkler.
“Zuma abused his constitutional prerogative to appoint ministers to further his agenda...” - Sadtu (The South African Democratic Teachers Union).
"Zuma has failed. Zuma is corrupt. You know that he is corrupt." - former chairman of the National Council of Provinces, Reverend Peter Moatshe.
"Bongani Mkongi is the one who called for the #ZumaMustFall banner to be burnt down in Cape Town last year, and for the people in the building to be burnt to death as they have allowed the banner..." – Thulani Gqirana at News24
This owfma-SA can add countless more opinions that will ensure the world that this cabinet-reshuffle is the indisputable evidence that South Africa’s most dangerous enemy is its president, Jacob Zuma. He is considered to be an embarrassment to the ANC, whose previous leaders, and in particularly Nelson Mandela, had no intention to turn South Africa into the kleptocracy it has become since Jacob Zuma became president in 2009.
Efforts to Stop President Zuma From Ruining South Africa
Mass renewed calls came from opposition parties and civil society organisations for Zuma to be removed from power.
Several demonstrations of protest were organized.
The DA turned to the Western Cape High Court in a failed bid to try to stop the swearing-in of new ministers. The ministers were sworn in on Friday evening. Listening to their oaths, while knowing that the president will make them forget every promise they have made in favor of South Africa, upset this owfma-SA tremendously.
A petition has been set up online calling for Jacob Zuma to resign.
The Democratic Alliance has tabled a motion of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma. The leader, Mmusi Maimane, has called on political parties to set aside their ‘narrow differences’ and support the DA in its motion. This will be the umpteenth motion of no confidence against the president. Unfortunately none of the previous motions were successful, as the ANC has the majority seats in Parliament and members are too afraid to vote against Jacob Zuma. They know they will lose their jobs, like Minister Hanekom and the other ministers who had stood up against the president at the NEC-meeting in November 2016 have now lost their portfolios. “Zuma’s decision to fire Gordhan and his deputy should be a rallying call for South Africans to unite in defense of the Constitution,” said the DA.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) filed an application for the Constitutional Court to order the Speaker of Parliament to institute impeachment or disciplinary proceedings against President Jacob Zuma for breaking his oath of office when he used state money for the revamping of his private home in Nkandla. (The EFF is still frozen with shock and anger about the Nkandla-debacle of 2015, and the fact that the ANC has done nothing about Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng's announcement that the President has failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land, and that his doings amount to a breach of a constitutional obligation.
Opinion of an Owfma-SA
What can I say that has not already been said? I am actually still in a state of shock, seeing the face of President Zuma and listening to his announcement. Perhaps because that was the first thing I saw and heard seconds after I had woken, it has made a horrible impact on my sensitive soul. After all, I am only an owfma-SA - an ordinary white female middle-aged South African.
I don't exaggerate when I admit that I'm still suffering palpitation. South Africa's future doesn't look bright for ordinary people like me, and absolutely dark for the poor and the unemployed.
May President Zuma and his cronies be conquered by all who have vision and insight, knowledge and wisdom, and an altruistic urge to serve South Africa and its people.