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Zuma flexes his executive muscle in Cabinet reshuffle

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

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has fired Pravin Gordhan from the Ministry of Finance and replaced him with Malusi Gigaba.

Mcebisi Jonas is also out as deputy Finance Minister, while Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom - who moved against Zuma in an African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee meeting last year - has also been sacked.

The scale of this reshuffle is almost unprecedented; nearly a third of the ministers have changed and there are ten new deputy ministers as well.

This means several of the ministers who belong to the SACP are still in place.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says Zuma has planned this carefully.

“This time he has done groundwork before this reshuffle. We know he has wanted a reshuffle since he fired Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Des Van Rooyen.”

CHANGES

Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi and deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi 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.

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.

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.

PROTESTS

Former Congress of South Africa Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi called for a protest at the offices of the National Treasury on Friday morning.

“Every South African, bring your flag and demonstrate peacefully. Let it be known that you stood up.”

There will now be pressure on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to act amid claims that he could actually have been planning to resign if Gordhan was moved.

For the moment there's been no official reaction to this move by the ANC itself.

MARKETS

Econometrix chief economist Azar Jammine says the markets are watching this every closely.

“I think this is very negative for the markets and the probability is high that our credit rating will be downgraded to junk status.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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