Tripartite alliance on ‘brink of disintegration’ after Blade axed in surprise Cabinet reshuffle

17 October 2017 - 17:20
By Penwell Dlamini
Blade Nzimande. File photo.
Image: TEBOGO LETSIE Blade Nzimande. File photo.

President Jacob Zuma stunned everyone on Tuesday when he reshuffled his cabinet and the most prominent victim was former minister of higher education Blade Nzimande.

Political analysts see the surprise announcement as a move by Zuma to prepare for life after the ANC’s December elective conference.

Zuma made the surprise announcement‚ a move that political analysts described as preparing for the ANC's elective conference in December. Nzimande‚ who is also the general secretary of the SA Communist Party‚ has previously survived cabinet reshuffles but after his criticism of the influential Gupta family and state capture‚ he was finally axed.

The SACP said Nzimande’s axing was factional and placed the tripartite alliance on the “brink of disintegration”.

Nzimande was the highest-ranking SACP official in President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet.

“We emphatically reject these manoeuvres that place the alliance on the brink of disintegration. Our view is that this is not a reshuffle but the targeted removal of Nzimande as a direct attack on the SACP‚” the SACP said in a statement.

“Ordinarily the aim of any cabinet reshuffle must be to strengthen the capacity of the state. But in this case that is not the intention‚ especially with the retention of so many deadwoods and compromised individuals in Cabinet.”

It added that the “continued authoritarianism by Zuma in disregarding alliance protocols and relations placed the alliance in unchartered waters”.

“In fact this action‚ more than anything else‚ also compromises and further tarnishes the image of the ANC itself‚” the SACP said‚ adding that Nzimande’s removal was a response to popular calls from the SACP and Cosatu for Zuma to resign.

The secretary general of the ANC‚ Gwede Mantashe‚ described Nzimande’s axing as a pity.

Mantashe said while the ANC national executive committee (NEC) was informed about the Cabinet reshuffle‚ it was not consulted.

He said the removal of Nzimande would impact negatively on the alliance between the ANC and the SACP.

“In the case of the Minister of Finance (Pravin Gordhan)‚ we were consulted. We delayed that reshuffle for a number of months. That is the difference between consultation and informing‚” he told Eyewitness News.

But Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said while his party did not support the reshuffle‚ he would also have fired Nzimande.

“We welcome Blade’s removal. Zuma should have reshuffled himself. Blade and Zuma are not different. Blade will now discover who he is.

“Zuma should have fired them (SACP cabinet members) a long time ago‚” Malema said.

Political analyst Susan Booysen described the cabinet reshuffle as one of Zuma’s last attempts to prepare for life after the ANC’s December elective conference.

“He is loading the cabinet so that‚ should he fall into misfortune in December‚ there should be a more sympathetic cabinet in place who will treat his proxy well‚” Booysen said.

“He is setting up even a more cosy cabinet‚ more favourable to him and possibly to Nkosazana [Dlamini-Zuma] than we have had in the past.”