Johannesburg - Gauteng’s ANC provincial leadership may have had their way in forcing President Jacob Zuma to accept their choice of candidate last week, but on Sunday night Zuma had the last say – leaving ANC provincial chairman Paul Mashatile out of his new cabinet.
Former arts and culture minister Mashatile was a prominent leader of the so-called “Forces of Change” which attempted to unseat Zuma at the ANC’s national conference in Mangaung two years ago.
On Sunday night, he became the only provincial party chairman to be neither a minister nor a premier.
Zuma has kept him and others around for the past two years, but on Sunday night the president dealt the faction a mortal blow, booting out Gauteng deputy provincial chairwoman Gwen Ramokgopa as well.
They weren’t the only ones to be banished or demoted. The security cluster, widely perceived to be the president’s inner circle, was decimated.
Former police minister Nathi Mthethwa was demoted to Arts and Culture, while former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele was handed the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services.
Both Mthethwa and Cwele had controversial tenures. As police minister, Mthethwa presided over several high-profile incidents of police brutality, not least the death of community activist Andries Tatane at the hands of the SAPS.
The most damaging of all was the massacre of 34 striking mineworkers in Marikana in 2012, shot dead by public order police in full view of the media.
Cwele oversaw the passing of the Protection of State Information Bill, which faced sustained protest and condemnation from civil society, community activists and media freedom practitioners.
He was also unaware that his wife was running a drug-smuggling ring, an offence for which she was convicted and is now serving a 12-year jail sentence.
Former mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu has also been shown the door for her inability to break the deadlock in the four-month platinum sector strike, which is now the longest mining strike in post-apartheid South Africa. It has had devastating consequences not just for the sector and the individuals involved, but also the neighbouring towns on the platinum belt.
Shabangu takes over from the much-criticised Lulu Xingwana as Minister for Women, while the Department of Women, Children, and People with Disabilities, derided as the Ministry of Everything But Men, has been finally done away with.
Former Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu also missed out on a cabinet post after speculation that Zuma could appoint him to the executive.
The writing was on the wall for Sisulu, a scion of ANC “royalty” and high on its national list in his own right, when the party announced it would nominate chairwoman Baleka Mbete to be Speaker in the National Assembly.
No doubt there would be speculation that Sisulu is now being punished for his decisiveness in letting parliamentary processes establish the ad hoc committee to investigate Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.
Former communications minister Yunus Carrim, former human settlements minister Connie September, former correctional services minister S’bu Ndebele and former energy minister Ben Martins were others who didn’t make the cut.
Long-serving deputy international relations minister Ebrahim Ebrahim also doesn’t return, nor does former deputy minister of agriculture Pieter Mulder, from the Freedom Front Plus.