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Zuma faces fight back from within ANC, alliance partners following reshuffle

Zuma has fired Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas despite opposition from his party and alliance partners Cosatu and the SACP.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG – As South Africans wake up to dramatic changes to President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet, the president faces a fight back from within his own party and the tripartite alliance.

Zuma announced a Cabinet reshuffle after midnight last night, axing five ministers, two deputies and announcing 10 new ministers and 10 new deputy ministers.

The president says he has brought younger MPs and women into the National Executive in order to benefit from their energy, experience and expertise.

Meanwhile, Former Cosatu leader Zwelinzima Vavi has called for a peaceful march to National Treasury in Pretoria on Friday morning.

President Jacob Zuma has fired Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, despite opposition from his party and alliance partners Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party.

Zuma also axed Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, who led a motion of confidence in the ANC NEC against him last year.

But surprisingly, the president did not fire all those who were vocal against him like Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.

Despite widespread speculation that the president would target SACP members, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Thulas Nxesi - who has become the new Sports Minister - Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel are all still in Cabinet.

The president did not touch his loyal supporters such as Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Local Government Minister Des Van Rooyan and now Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi, despite the party’s alliance partners arguing that those ministers be fired for poor performances.

In a late-night move on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma released a statement saying that he had decided to make changes to the National Executive in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

ANALYSTS SPEAK OUT

Political analyst Ralph Matekga says Zuma has planned this carefully.

“This time he has done a ground work before this reshuffle. We know he has always wanted to reshuffle as far back as 14 months since he fired Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with De van Rooyen.”

Econometrix economist Azar Jammine says the markets are not going to like this.

“It was a purge of all those who were against Zuma, in favour of those who basically are going to be close to him and this relates to the finance ministry.”

CHANGES

Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi and Jonas are deputies that have been fired.

The new deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration is former Limpopo Sports MEC Dipuo Letsatsi Duba.

The deputy Minister for Finance is Sifiso Buthelezi and MP and former Prasa board chairperson.

Former Transport Minister Ben Martins has made a return to government, this time as Public Enterprise deputy minister.

Former deputy Police Minister Maggie Sotyu is now the deputy Minister of Arts and Culture.

Former deputy Minister of Public Enterprises Gratitude Magwanishe is now the Trade and Industry deputy minister, replacing Mzwandile Masina.

Member of Parliament Thando Mahambehlala is now the deputy Minister of Communications.

Deputy Minister of Small Business Development Elizabeth Thabethe is now deputy in the tourism ministry.

Member of Parliament Bongani Mkongi is the deputy Minister of Police.

Former deputy Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams is now deputy Minister of telecommunications.

And Member of Parliament Nomathemba November is now the deputy Minister of Small Business Development.

PAYBACK

This is a big reshuffle and it appears Zuma has taken action against some of the people who've been critical of him.

But Bathabile Dlamini stays on at Social Development, despite the criticism over the social grants payments system.

Already groups like Save South Africa are calling on people to rise up, saying this is a brazen attempt to undermine the gains of the liberation struggle by taking power from the people and giving it to the Guptas.

RAND PLUMMETS

The rand has extended its decline on the back of the Cabinet shake-up.

It’s fallen to its weakest level against the dollar since 10 March. At 7.30am, it was trading at R13.43 to the greenback.

At 6pm, the rand was trading at R12.81 to the dollar, this was shortly before President Jacob Zuma was due to meet the other five members of the ANC’s top six.

By 10:26pm, the currency had weakened to R13.27, before dropping further to R13.35 at 11:28pm.

The rand rose to a session high of R12.82 after Reuters exclusively reported that Zuma is considering offering to step down next year, at least 12 months before his term as South African president ends.

Bonds reached their firmest since Monday, with the yield on benchmark paper due in 2026 falling 12 basis points to 8.595%.

Inflation slowed to 6.3% in February from 6.6% the previous month, while the current account deficit narrowed to near a six-year low, giving policymakers room to consider a rate cut to buoy the ailing economy.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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