Cabinet Reshuffle: At last, President Jacob Zuma has weighed in on reports that he plans to reshuffle his cabinet members immediately after his SONA address.
Addressing the rumours at a luncheon at Grand West Casino where he met with business and labour leaders in Cape Town, Zuma reiterated that contrary topopular opinion, he is not planning to get rid of his ‘enemies’.
He recalled that rumours about the looming reshuffle have been making rounds since last year but that he has not considered taking the move.
“I don’t know. Since last year, this speculation has been there but it has never happened. Just forget about it. I will tell you when I want to tell you.”
Since 2016, reports on the possibility of a cabinet reshuffle has kept Zuma’s detractors on the pins after some ministers tried to oust him during the ANC NEC meeting. Participants at the three-day NEC meeting in Irene only ended up wounding the president, but like other times, he survived the ouster bid.
Ministers who led the charge against President Zuma’s continuous headship include Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and his deputy Joe Phaahla, NEC member Fikile Xasa, ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, and ANC economic transformation chief Enoch Godongwana.
Most ministers who spoke out against Zuma were said to be those considering to resign from their respective positions.
Zuma was rescued by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, Deputy Defence Minister Kebby Maphatsoe and African Union Commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who took to the defensive line.
President Zuma’s claim now contradicts earlier information disclosed by top ANC members earlier this year.
In January, some senior leaders of the ruling African National Congress, who pleaded anonymity, told reporters that Zuma is considering dismissing some ministers who contravened ANC tradition by asking him to step down.
They divulged that the main target would be Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, with whom Zuma had crossed swords over several thorny issues since last year.
The embattled leader also downplayed allegations that he granted undue influence to the wealthy Gupta family, who manages a business empire, running from media to mining.