#CabinetShuffle: axed Blade Nzimande, nuclear deals and President Zuma memes

blade nzimande jacob zuma cabinet reshuffle
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande speaking during the State of the Nation Address reply in Parliament in Cape Town.20/02/2013

Oh, but it’s a busy news day in South Africa folks. President Jacob Zuma, on the back of appointing a new board for the SABC, has reshuffled his cabinet once again.

The news broke Tuesday morning after the Presidency issued a brief press release. Ministry of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande was one of the more notable scalps, replaced by David Mahlobo

The presser is copied in below:

After careful consideration, I have decided to make the following changes to the National Executive;

  • Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize is the Minister of Higher Education and Training
  • Ms Ayanda Dlodlo is the Minister of Home Affairs
  •  Ms Mmamaloko Kubayi is the Minister of Communications
  •  Mr David Mahlobo is the Minister of Energy
  •  Adv. Bongani Thomas Bongo is the Minister of State Security
  •  Mr Buti Manamela is the Deputy Minister of Higher Education

I thank the former members of the National Executive for good service in their previous portfolios.

I wish the members who are assuming new portfolios all the best in their new responsibilities.

Commentary on social media following the announcement was anything but brief.

#CabinetShuffle once again trended on South Africa’s Twitter timelines, as users tried to make sense of the latest round of political musical chairs.

What did politicians say?

DA members came out in full force against the reshuffle, with its leader Mmusi Maimane among the first politicians to issue a statement.

He labeled President Zuma “desperate” and alluded to the proposed nuclear energy deal.

David Maynier reiterated the sentiment, and focussed on the new Minister of Energy David Mahlobo.

MP John Steenhuisen couldn’t resist using a pun.

While DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme kept score.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa wondered what difference the new cabinet ministers will make.

While EFF leader Julius Malema, during a press conference, called on Zuma to resign from office.

“We reject the reshuffle on the National Assembly because it doesn’t include the criminal Zuma,” he added.

Malema also “welcomed” the removal of Nzimande from cabinet, and called on him to join them “in the streets”.

Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of SAFTU, called the move “vintage Zuma” and saw it as a bid to “divide SACP [by removing Nzimande from cabinet] whilst consolidating a move to nuclear”.

What about South Africa?

As for the rest of South Africa… well, most on Twitter couldn’t quite believe that #CabinetReshuffle was a thing again.

Some also couldn’t believe that the likes of Public Enterprises minister Lynne Brown and Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini haven’t been reshuffled.

LMFAO’s “Party Rock” reemerged from its slumber to become part of a novel Jacob Zuma meme.

While Blade Nzimande was also the subject of ridicule and image macros on the social network.

Feature image: GovernmentZA via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Andy Walker, former editor


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