SA ruling alliance rattled after Zuma sacks minister

South Africa's President Jacob Zuma. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

The rift in the governing tripartite alliance has widened following the dropping of the South African Communist Party’s (SACP) leader, Mr Blade Nzimande, in President Jacob Zuma’s latest Cabinet reshuffle.

Mr Nzimande was in charge of Higher Education.

SACP said it had learnt of what it described as a “factional removal” with shock.

SACP is an alliance partner with President Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) and the removal of its general-secretary has been met with widespread criticism.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said the removal of Mr Nzimande was “a pity” as he had done well in Education. He said the reshuffle was likely to have a negative impact on the alliance.

“It is a pity that Comrade Blade has resigned, we are hoping he doesn’t resign from parliament,” Mr Mantashe said.

SACP issued a statement following the announcement and called a press conference in Johannesburg.

“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 Comrade Nzimande as a direct attack on the SACP,” SACP said in a statement.

The Democratic Alliance's (DA) Mmusi Maimane said the move was aimed at cleaning up Cabinet of all ministers “who have failed to toe the Zuma line”.

“The SACP has been dealt an insulting blow and they must now decide how long they will put up with this abuse, or if they will now do what they know is right and begin to work outside the ANC,” Mr Maimane said.

Mr Nzimande was replaced by Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize‚ who was minister for Home Affairs. Mr Nzimande’s deputy‚ Mr Mduduzi Manana‚ was replaced by Mr Buti Manamela‚ the former deputy minister for Planning and Monitoring.

Mr Manana resigned earlier this year after he admitted to assaulting a woman.

Prof Mkhize was replaced at Home Affairs by Ayanda Dlodlo‚ whose position as minister for Communications will be taken over by Mr Mmamoloko Kubayi, previously minister for Energy.

Political analyst Thulani Ndlovu said President Zuma’s shock move would inevitably place severe strain on relations between ANC and other members of the tri-partite alliance.

“This could signal the end of the alliance. For a long time, the SACP has been complaining that its members are axed from their positions without any consultations. This time, President Zuma has fired their leader. I doubt this will end well,” Mr Ndlovu said.

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