President Jacob Zuma has reshuffled his Cabinet, leaving the South African Communist Party’s Blade Nzimande out in the cold.
Nzimande, a once staunch Zuma supporter turned critic, has been axed from Cabinet and replaced by Hlengiwe Mkhize, who was serving as the minister of home affairs.
This is expected to set off a chain reaction within the tripartite alliance which is deeply fractured and has in the past few months united against the president, calling for him removal.
Other changes made in Cabinet are:
• Ayanda Dlodlo – minister of home affairs;
• Mmamaloko Kubayi – minister of communications;
• David Mahlobo – minister of energy;
• Bongani Thomas Bongo – minister of state security; and
• Buti Manamela – deputy minister of higher education and training.
The power play by the president comes just two months before the ANC heads to it’s elective conference where Zuma’s successor will be picked.
Instrumental in the emergence of Zuma at the ANC’s 2007 elective conference, Nzimande and the SACP have turned their backs on the president, and have thrown their weight behind deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to succeed Zuma in December.
The SACP has repeatedly called for Zuma to step down from his position as president.
The only newcomer to the mix is backbencher Bongo, who has been placed in the high profile position of state security minister.
The appointment of Manamela – a central committee member of the SACP – as deputy minister of higher education has left a vacancy in the presidency where he served as a deputy minister.
It was expected that presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, after she was sworn into parliament a few weeks ago, would also be included in the Cabinet but Zuma left her untouched.
Dlamini-Zuma has previously served in Cabinet in three different roles.
The vacancy left by Manamela leaves the door open for yet another reshuffle in the coming weeks or months.
The rand lost more than 0.5% within minutes of Zuma's announcement of yet another surprise Cabinet reshuffle.