Here’s how South Africa’s politicians reacted to Zuma’s #CabinetReshuffle

jacob zuma south africa cabinet reshuffle
President Jacob Zuma addressing the 17th Annual National Teachers Awards, this year's awards ceremony is extra special as it is also celebrating 1220 years of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica national Anthem. The first stanza was composed by Enock Sontonga in 1897. 25/03/2017 Kopano Tlape GCIS

South Africa and the world woke Friday to an entirely new political landscape forming at the bottom of the continent. Cabinet shuffles rarely happen in South African politics, but when they do, they send shockwaves across the country’s social and economic spheres.

Among the big moves made by President Jacob Zuma was firing previous finance minister Pravin Gordhan and deputy Mcebisi Jonas. South Africa wasn’t too happy about that.

But while ordinary citizens have made their views crystal clear on social media, politicians are now also joining in.

South Africa’s political debate flares on Twitter

Bathabile Dlamini has a relatively new Twitter account. However, no one can quite determine if it’s the minister’s official channel. Nevertheless, the account has some pretty strong views on the country’s latest game of political musical chairs.

“The only way President Zuma won’t be the president of RSA is if he resigns,” the account wrote. “Opposition parties must stop being clowns,” referencing the EFF’s visit to the Constitutional Court this week.

That tweet saw over 150 replies, and became a trending share on the social network early Thursday. Another tweet confirmed the account’s positive views on the reshuffle.

But not all ANC members were expressing the same warm sentiment towards Zuma’s move.

The ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu disagreed with the decision to axe the previous heads of the finance ministry, calling their crime their “incorruptibility”.

Collectively, Mthembu’s three tweets have seen over 1000 retweets.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has also expressed disdain in the wake of Gordhan’s axing.

Jessie Duarte, one of the ANC’s top six and the party’s deputy secretary general, explained that ministers who were axed from positions “cannot be seen as being lost to ANC”.

Oddly coincidental, she also preempted Mthembu’s tweet nearly two hours prior.

Other political figures saw the reshuffle as a chess match within the ANC itself. EFF leader Julius Malema noted that one ministers deployment makes “some sense”.

Sticking with the EFF for a moment, #ThePeoplesBae Mbuyiseni Ndlozi drew comparisons to Malusi Gigaba’s appointment as finance minister, to Des van Rooyen’s fraught appointment back in late 2015.

“Gigaba is just a well known Van Rooyen,” he tweets.

But I know what you’re all thinking… how did South Africa’s previous minister of sport and rec-cum-minister of police Mbalula Fikile react to his reappointment?


At the time of writing, #PravinGordhan, #McebisiJonas and #OccupyTreasury — a protest against the cabinet reshuffle taking place in Pretoria today — were all among South Africa’s most tweeted about topics.

Featured image: GovernmentZA via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


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