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Cape Town - Former police minister, Nathi Mthethwa and mineral resources minister, Susan Shabangu, were the biggest losers of President Jacob Zuma’s new cabinet, taking the fall for inaction and failure in their portfolios.
President Jacob Zuma announced his new cabinet this evening, moving Mthethwa to the portfolio of arts and culture, and moving Shabangu to a new ministry of women located in the presidency.
This comes as the country faces the longest mining strike since democracy.
Under Mthethwa’s tenure as police minister, the SA Police Service came under severe criticism for several high profile fiascos, not least the Marikana massacre in 2012 during which 34 striking mine workers were shot dead by police.
The Farlam Commission of Inquiry is still investigating the shootings.
Meanwhile former arts and culture minister, Paul Mashatile, seemed to have won the battle to choose the premier of Gauteng, where he is chairman of the ANC, in exchange for Zuma booting him out of the national executive.
Mashatile will not take up a cabinet position this time round.
Controversial former minister of state security, Siyabonga Cwele, will also have to get used to less power.
Loathed by civil society, Cwele oversaw the passing of the country’s controversial Protection of State Information Bill.
But now, as Minister of the new Telecommunications and Postal Service Department, Cwele can seek solace in intercepting snail mail only.
Lindiwe Sisulu was also moved from the strategic portfolio of Public Service and Administration to Human Settlements, long regarded as a ministry reserved for those set up for failure.
Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, on the other hand, was retained.
And while former finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, will no longer hold the state’s purse-strings, the ANC has tasked him with its most pressing task at hand, that of straightening up local government before the crucial 2016 elections.
Gordhan’s appointment as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs is the most senior appointment to the portfolio the ANC has ever made, after the likes of failures such as Sicelo Shiceka and under-performers like Richard Baloyi.
This signals that the ANC knows its crisis is not power but credibility among the electorate.
Gordhan’s astute political know-how and track-record at turning around the SA Revenue Service would no doubt have been key deciding factors informing his appointment.