Pule hung out to dry

Schalk Mouton

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma hung former communications minister Dina Pule out to dry when he announced his reshuffle of the executive yesterday. In firing Pule – who is being investigated by both parliament’s ethics committee and the public protector – Zuma stripped her of the support of her office, forcing her to face the investigations as an ordinary MP.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the move might ruin her chances of making it onto the ANC’s election list for next year.

The public protector is investigating Pule for the alleged abuse of funds intended for the ICT Indaba in Cape Town last year.

She is also being investigated by the police for alleged corruption involving appointments.

Pule faced heavy criticism after a series of exposés by the Sunday Times, which alleged that her boyfriend, Phosane Mnqibisa, ran her department and enjoyed the right to appoint people to the boards of the SABC, the Post Office and other state- owned enterprises such as Sentech and Usasa.

The parliamentary ethics committee is expected to announce its findings on August 20.

“If the ethics committee finds her guilty and recommends sanctions, and she is taken to a court of law, it might make it difficult for her, as the ANC’s own policy prevents [being nominated for the election list with a criminal record],” Fikeni said.

“Though she would be presumed innocent until found guilty, if the ethics committee comes out strongly against her, it might prevent her from getting onto the list.”

Pule’s spokesman, Siya Qoza, refused to comment, saying: “All communication on today’s announcement is made by the Presidency.”

Zuma announced Pule’s axing, along with that of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi and Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, at the Union Buildings.

“Twenty years of democracy have changed the face of our country, and the last five years have pushed that change forward,” he said.

“The achievements are due to the hard work of many of our ministers, premiers, deputy ministers, MECs, mayors and many others who have worked hard in leading the process of transformation and improving the quality of life of our people.

“To take that change forward, I have decided to make some changes to the national executive.”

Zuma did not allow time for any difficult questions on either the reshuffle or the health of former president Nelson Mandela, leaving the podium immediately after reading a short prepared statement.

“Thank you very much. Goodbye,” he said, and left the stage, prompting some journalists to laugh in disbelief.

Pule has been replaced by Yunus Carrim, Sexwale by Connie September and Baloyi by the former deputy minister of rural development and land reform, Lechesa Tsenoli.

Carrim is the former deputy minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs. September was an MP.

Fikeni said he was not surprised by the axing of Sexwale because he had spoken out against the ANC leadership in the months running up to the party’s elective conference in Mangaung last year.

Baloyi is said to have under-performed as minister for cooperative governance.

A report by Municipal IQ, which monitors service delivery issues, showed that service delivery protests had spiked since 2009, when Zuma came to power. He appointed Baloyi as minister in 2011.

Zuma’s announcement yesterday received a mixed reaction, with opposition parties saying he had failed to cleanse his cabinet of incompetent ministers.

The DA said Zuma should have used the opportunity to “stamp out poor governance, which has been the mainstay of his administration, and replace all poor-performing ministers”.

The ANC and its alliance partners welcomed the reshuffle.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union expressed disappointment that Zuma did not remove Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele said: “President Zuma’s fourth cabinet reshuffle since 2009 fell far short of what the citizens of this nation should expect the president of the country to do if he is serious about fighting corruption.

“That is to come clean – as a matter of urgency – about the R270-million of the people’s money that was spent on a palace for himself and his family at Nkandla.”

It was also astounding that Zuma had showered the departing ministers with praise for what he called “delivering a better life for all”.

Ramphele asked how Pule had contributed to a better life for South Africans.

“If such reshuffles are exercises at holding ministers accountable for their performance, why then is Public Enterprise Minister Malusi Gigaba still in office given the shambles at Medupi power station and looming blackouts?” Ramphele asked.

“The same could be said of [Motshekga], under whose leadership the country scored second-last in the world in maths and science.” – Additional reporting by Sapa

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