According to rumors making the rounds in the tabloids, President Jacob Zuma is seriously planning to reshuffle his cabinet to accommodate former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Presently, the presidency is yet to confirm or refute the growing report. However, Friday’s confirmation by the ANC that presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would be sworn into Parliament this week, gave credence to the speculation around a possible Cabinet reshuffle.
Local media, the Sunday Times reported that President Jacob Zuma plans to replace Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, who has been vocal about Zuma’s presidency, with Dlamini-Zuma.
The paper also gave an account of how the former AU chairperson plans to make the announcement about free education at tertiary level, which is expected to win her favour with voters.
Although a great number of South African political analysts believe that axing Nzimande would not be a strategic move, the poor working relationship between the SACP boss and the president is said to be the reason why Zuma wants to ax him.
In his contribution, Wits economics lecturer Lumkile Mondi said:
“Unless Zuma and his supporters think that the SACP vote will not matter, particularly after they expressed their support for Cyril Ramaphosa, I’d be surprised if they gave up so early.”
Steven Friedman, a renowned political analyst said it Zuma declaring war on the communist party’s leader is not smart and unlikely.
“It’s quite clear what the president feels about the SACP and what they feel about the president, but declaring war on them two months before election is not smart and seems unlikely.”
Lastly, analyst Ralph Mathekga doubted the possibility of President Zuma removing Minister Blade as a member of his cabinet. Mathekga opinioned that it would be difficult for Zuma to accomplish his mission this time because he has “exhausted his reshuffle heart line”.
Cabinet reshuffles are a presidential prerogative. They are not announced via Facebook or other social media platforms. Until there is a presidential public announcement, it remains a rumor.
President Zuma’s last reshuffle was in March 2017. Should the president change the line-up of his Cabinet, as being speculated, it would be the second reshuffle this year.
Some factions within the ANC believe that a Cabinet post for Dlamini-Zuma would strengthen her standing at the party’s December elective national conference. But for that to happen she must be an ANC MP.
President Zuma’s ex-wife has previously served as the minister of health, home affairs and foreign affairs between 1994 and 2012.