Zuma Reshuffles Cabinet ‘In Bid To Secure Energy Deal’
President Jacob Zuma has reshuffled his cabinet, adjusting six portfolios including the Ministry of Energy, in a move analysts say is linked to a contentious nuclear energy deal with Russia.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, the presidency said it had moved David Mahlobo, former minister of state security and a longtime Zuma ally, to the energy portfolio.
Zuma also fired Blade Nzimande, the minister of higher education and training, in a move understood as punitive after Nzimande criticised the president.
Nzimande is also the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party (SACP), a key partner in the tripartite alliance with the ANC-led government.
The South African government has been trying to push through a contentious nuclear energy deal to the tune of $74bn with Russia. The deal is thought to have been struck when Zuma met Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2014.
Tuesday’s developments mark the second time in 2017 that Zuma has reshuffled his cabinet. In March, Zuma fired five ministers, including then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.
Zuma has been under growing pressure to step down, following the publication of a report by the public protector that concluded that Zuma’s government had been potentially “captured” by private capital, in particular by the wealthy and influential Gupta family who hold a range of business interests in South Africa.
In August, Zuma narrowly survived a no-confidence vote held by secret ballot in parliament. Members of the 400-seat parliament voted 198 to 177, with nine abstentions.