South Africa’s President Beefs up His Power with a Brutal Cabinet Reshuffle

Updated on April 10, 2017
Cabinet reshuffle 2017, South Africa
Cabinet reshuffle 2017, South Africa

Authors Note

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.

The Gupta-family - capturers of SA
The Gupta-family - capturers of SA | Source
State of Capture Report
State of Capture Report | Source

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

“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.

Anti-Zuma protest in pictures
Anti-Zuma protest in pictures | Source
Thousands of South Africans protest against Zuma after cabinet reshuffle
Thousands of South Africans protest against Zuma after cabinet reshuffle | Source
Claudia Klaase from District Six outside Parliament, Cape Town
Claudia Klaase from District Six outside Parliament, Cape Town | Source

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.

Watch Barbara Hogan, an anti-apartheid activist, former minister and widow of ANC-struggle veteran, Ahmed Kathrada, spitting fire at her late husband's memorial on Saturday, April 1st


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    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      18 months ago from South Africa

      Shyron E Shenko – The ANC government doesn’t even listen to the most respectful, qualified, and influential experts in our country, so my voice is like a whisper against thunder. It’s hard to be part of the audience, watching your favorite team losing the game.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 

      18 months ago from Texas

      Dear Martie, you are more than an owfma, I see you as the voice of reason and insight for your countryman, if they will only listen.

      I can feel what you are feeling and I wish I had the right words

      to ease you heart and mind, but the time for all bad things to end will come on day.

      Blessings always

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      mckbirdbks – I take my hat off to journalists who have to go where news happen, often risking their lives. So easy to sit behind my desk and read/summarize their reports.

      We have seen massive protests marches all over the country on Friday (organized by the DA and the Save South Africa Movement as a result of Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle). Besides anti-appartheid marches in the 1980’s, this is the first time that thousands of whites – almost 100,000 - participated in protest marches. They proved for the first time since 1992 that SA is indeed a rainbow nation comprising races of all colors. No stones were thrown at cars, no tires were burned, no shops were looted, no aggression and hooliganism were displayed. On the other side, the pro-Zuma members of the ANC have exposed their barbaric nature as usual while trying to disrupt the marches.

      More protests to be expected next week by parties and civil organizations that refused to demonstrate unhappiness with Zuma in cooperation with opposition parties - and this is another clear sign that no political party will ever please the hoi polloi.

      This was a hectic week, but this comment (sub-hub) is my last report about noteworthy trend of events in SA, as I have decided to focus on the beauty again.

      Being an immigrant in any country would be a nightmare for a patriot like me. One needs a lot of courage to pull up their roots in order to shoot it in a foreign country. Locals seldom if ever accept immigrants in their midst.

      Thank you, Mike, for following this series on top of your own country’s trend of events. At least, you and all my fellow-hubbers now have a clear perspective on SA’s issues. Let’s hope that I will be able to resume this series 5 years from now with more positive reports.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      21 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hi Martie - I see that you could have made a fine living as a journalist as well of all the task that you did accomplish. Greed and lust for power seem to have swept the world over. What madness at every turn. Don't make yourself sick over this. And be prepared to travel light.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      billybuc – I have the same wish. Can someone just wake me up and tell me that I’ve had a nightmare? Our president has more powers than yours. Our constitution has to be revised in order to prevent a president from doing things for the benefit of himself and his family and friends.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      jgshorebird – The situation down here, with Zuma in charge, is a typical Africa scenario. The moment an African becomes a president, he becomes corrupt with greed and the hunger for power. Just look at Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Lesotho, Mozambique. African presidents usually turn into dictators and refuse to step down when their term is over.

      Apartheid was wrong, but segregation has been the status quo since 1652, and even before, as members of a tribe were not allowed to marry members of another tribe. However, we are now living in the 21st century. Equality should be the norm.

      Thank you so much for your comment! Interesting to know that you’ve studied Apartheid.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      fpherj48 – Today $1 equals R13.42. Our entire economy depends on the value of the rand against the dollar. The more rands we have to pay for imports – which are being paid in dollars – the more consumers have to pay. Just think about the price of oil/petrol! This also effects the country offshore investments terribly, and the interest we have to pay on loans.

      Today, and because of the political instability in our country, we have been downgraded by the best credit agency in the world to junk-status.

      This means no-one will take the risk to invest in SA – (buying shares in South African companies, or put up factories, etc.) And this means unemployment rate rises!

      Half of the people in SA live below the poverty line. Unemployment rate is 27.1%. Seventeen-million of the 54-million people depend on government grants. You got the picture.

      Bank accounts of the Gupta family were also closed in China and India (their home country). This is a very shrewd and greedy Indian business family who has our president in the palm of their hands (and also by the balls)! They have managed to erase most of the negative writings about them on the Internet. In this hub is a link to a hub I have written about them. Did you see it? It is the source of the picture that almost looks like the cover of this hub.

      Thank you so much for the positive thoughts, dear Paula. I - and South Africa - appreciate best wishes!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      always exploring – He has definitely gone too far. Pray that they manage to lift him out of his chair. OH DEAR! I’ve just heard on the news that SA has been downgraded to junk-status by Moody's Investors Service today.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      kallini2010 – Thanks for making me smile. I finally know what I’m going to do. I have a lot of picture tours of our beautiful country to publish. Let me turn my back on the ugly and focus on the beautiful. I am sure you - and all who are reading my hubs - will be happy to see more of SA’s beauty and less of the ugly. Thanks again for the smiles :)

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      marcoujor – I have to take a break from politics. This 3rd World Sh@t (performed by only Zuma) makes me sick. I am having morning, afternoon and evening sickness - pregnant frustration and disgust!

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      FlourishAnyway – That is exactly what’s happening now. I pray with all my heart that they will be successful. The promises Russia has made to Zuma in his personal capacity have demolished the last of the little intelligence he had.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      MsDora – All opposition parties, as well as many members of the ANC (the president's own party), are united in a mass effort to fire him. This time he went too far. He should have stepped down years ago. Thank you so much for your prayers.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      21 months ago from Olympia, WA

      The parallels between South Africa and the U.S. right now are frightening. I want to go to bed, wake up, and be told this was all a nightmare.

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Thanks. I am always curious about South Africa. We studied apartheid in college. Zuma sounds very corrupt indeed. I think if they had that kind of info on Trump or any past president in the U.S., impeachment would soon follow.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      21 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Oh Martie..LOL, I see "rand" refers to your currency. Sorry for being so clueless about S.A. Thanks to you, I am learning. I watched the video of Barbara Hogan....very powerful.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      21 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Martie....I am so involved and concerned with the major events in S.A, you have me searching for the meanings of some of the verbiage that is a bit unfamiliar to me (such as "rand."~~not a word I have heard in terms of our politics)

      Of course you were shaken to wake up to news that is so troublesome to your country's poor & unemployed. I imagine most of the people are. (I also tried to inform myself as to who the Gupta family is)

      Martie, you know your "friends" who love you can feel your anxiety and are with you in spirit. I hope that you & Sally & Nadine are correct in that this major upset will be Zuma's demise.

      My hugs and positive thoughts are with you. Paula

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      21 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Nuclear deal with Russia is enough to make the world seeking shelter. Zuma appears to be a dangerous leader who wants power and money. People power should still rule, perhaps he has gone too far this time. Hugs Martie..Stay safe...

    • kallini2010 profile image


      21 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      My dearest Martie!

      On behalf of his Highness King Zuma the 1st I want to respond to Barbara Hogan.

      - Yes, His Highness has ears, eyes and everything else. He hears and sees more than you know. You are asking the wrong question. You should ask "Do you care, Your Highness? If you do then about whom and about what?"

      Like everybody else His Highness has an agenda and he acts accordingly and as you have noticed very consistently.

      It seems to me that you are not very happy with His Highness decisions (duly noted, we know who you are and where you leave and so does Czar Vladimir the 1st), but you are not in the position of power.

      You are not happy. What are you going to do about it?

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      21 months ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Praying this is the 'storm before the calm', dear Martie - I can only imagine how unsettling this must be for you and those you love.

      Sending my love and hugs too, mar

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      21 months ago from USA

      I hope decent people will rise up in collective action and be done with this excuse for a leader. It's fascinating that the Russians seem to have their claws in everything and it's never good news when they do.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      21 months ago from The Caribbean

      Sounds either like a play or a very dreadful state of affairs. Seems like the motion of no confidence should be acted upon. Beyond that , it is difficult to know what to say except that I pray for peace.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      Nadine May – Yes, let’s see what happens. Fortunately, when the rand falls, my pay from HubPages rises.

    • MartieCoetser profile imageAUTHOR

      Martie Coetser 

      21 months ago from South Africa

      sallybea – The fact that he went rogue could be his demise. I really don’t think that the ANC is going to take this, and the consequences, lightly. I’m curious to see how the rand is going to react on Monday and onward. The banks have already lost billions since the beginning of the week when Gordhan was ordered to return from England. Obviously, Zuma has no idea what enormous effect his actions have on the economy – it is totally beyond his Gr6/St4 comprehension.

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 

      21 months ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Excellent article Martie. Our Rand currency will probably drop more and more after this silly cabinet reshuffle.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      21 months ago from Norfolk

      My hope is that Jacob Zuma has gone one step too far this time Martie! One can only hope that his latest stunt will be his demise. My thoughts are with you, my family members and all of those people who genuinely want change in South Africa.


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