The reshuffle in the Gauteng cabinet marks the end of an era in the ANC, said political analyst Professor Susan Booysen.
“This marks the end of an era in the ANC – that was one where President Zuma and a band of politicians could just walk over what provincial structures, citizens and supporters expressed they wanted,” said Booysen.
“It’s the end of an era of Zuma’s omnipotence,” she said.
On Tuesday night Gauteng premier David Makhura announced changes in the provincial cabinet, which included the return of ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile to the position of Member of the Executive Council (MEC) of Human Settlements and Co-Operative Governance.
Mashatile was the Minister of Arts and Culture until he spoke openly about tax-payers money being used for security upgrades to the President’s private Nkandla residence.
“Quite clearly Zuma doesn’t like Paul Mashatile which is why he didn’t appoint him to be cabinet minister in his second term. He (Mashatile) was quite literally dumped in Parliament in a role that doesn’t fit his pedigree,” said Political commentator Prince Mashele.
Mashatile’s return, and the reshuffle of two other positions in cabinet, show signs that Luthuli House could be allwoing the ANC in Gauteng a bit more room to do what’s need to turn things around.
“The Gauteng ANC has been trying for much of the time to do things differently and to be responsive to their own constituency,” said Booysen.
The province has special status, as it’s the economic heartland of the country explained Booysen.
“In many ways Gauteng epitomises the provinces the national economy faces,” said Booysen.
With South Africa’s rapid urbanisation Gauteng is home to a large number of voters.
“If the ANC doesn’t rule in the economic heart of the country its image will suffer dearly,” said Booysen.
Makhura said the top six in the ANC approved the changes.
But perhaps they didn’t have a choice.
“I think there’s a real sense of fear and panic on the part of the ANC that they might suffer hugely come the local government elections. They have to pull out all the stops,” said Mashele.
Mashele said the Gauteng group leadership must have sat and strategised to bring the Gauteng ANC chairperson back so that they can operate as a bloc, even if he is occupying a junior position.
“Mashatile has street smarts and is a good leader,” said Mashele.
“If this was a coordinated move with national leadership at Luthuli house we would have seen Mashatile resigning from parliament and then he could have been moved gently back into the Gauteng legislature,” said Mashele.
“I think that it didn’t happen that way – there was no coordination.”
“I think the national leadership has lost control of the movement in Gauteng,” he said.
In another about turn, on Tuesday night the State Attorney sent a letter to the DA, the EFF and the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, suggesting a solution to the Nkandla debacle.
The President’s lawyers suggested that the Auditor-General, supported by National Treasury, be appointed to determine how much money Zuma must pay back for any non-security related upgrades at his homestead, Nkandla.[eNCA]