Key Mabuyane role in reshuffled cabinet

Change of executive follows months of pressure on Masualle

ANC Eastern Cape boss Oscar Mabuyane has been placed in charge of the provincial government’s purse and will be the man driving economic development for the province, premier Phumulo Masualle announced in his late afternoon cabinet reshuffle.

Mabuyane, his deputy, Mlungisi Mvoko, and SACP provincial secretary Xolile Nqatha and deputy speaker Bulelwa Tunyiswa are the new additions to Masualle’s executive.

Former MECs Nancy Sihlwayi (Social Development), Sakhumzi Somyo (Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and provincial Treasury), Mlibo Qoboshiyane (Rural Development and Agrarian Reform) and Thandiswa Marawu (Public Works), received the chop and will continue as ordinary MPLs.

The move has been criticised by political analysts as a means for the ANC’s new provincial bosses to stamp their authority rather than it being based on the performances of those who have been cut.

Announcing the changes a day before he initially planned to, Masualle said new office bearers of the ANC were elected at the elective conference in September.

“Pursuant to this new political discourse, it became necessary to review the provincial government executive council [exco] and facilitate the deployment of some members of the new provincial leadership to serve in the provincial government cabinet,” he said in a statement.

“This decision should allow for a smooth transition as the current fifth administration winds down its term and prepares for a handing over to the incoming sixth administration, ahead of the 2019 national and provincial elections.”

His decision follows months of pressure from his political opponents who emerged victorious at the elective conference in East London, dubbed the “festival of chairs” after violence broke out.

While there were initially calls for Masualle himself to be replaced, the ANC’s national executive committee allowed him to stay on. He was then under immense pressure to shake up his cabinet as the provincial ANC bosses were of the view that some were underperforming.

One of the MECs who survived the chop is Fikile Xasa, who retains the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs portfolio.

Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana did not believe that the reshuffle was performance-based. “If you look at agriculture, Mlibo Qoboshiyane seemed to have been

doing fairly well,” he said. “Somyo, in economic affairs, there was no indication that he was performing badly.

“I think it had to do with the PEC establishing its authority over the provincial government.

“If you look at the guys that were taken out, those are the guys that were part of the faction contesting Mabuyane at the recent provincial conference.

“It had to do with realigning the government and Calata House [ANC provincial headquarters] more than the performance of the said individuals.”

Political analyst Ongama Mtimka agreed, saying: “At best, it was political consolidation at a PEC level.

“At worst, it’s a purge against those who supported a different faction at the elective conference.

“It’s a clear political process.”

Mtimka did not believe, however, that the changes weakened the executive in any way.

“Although people like Mlibo Qoboshiyane were star performers, the people who are replacing those being cut are equally performers.

“What they’re doing is consolidating power in the province and disassociating themselves from those who supported Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in the lead-up to the ANC [national] elective conference,” he said.

In some of the changes to Masualle’s cabinet, Mvoko takes over the human settlements portfolio from Helen Sauls-August, who has moved over to health.
Pemmy Majodina has been shifted from sports, recreation, arts and culture and placed at the helm of public works, while Tunyiswa takes over her previous portfolio.

Qoboshiyane is replaced by Nqatha and Pumza Dyantyi is shifted from health to social development.

The MECs of Education and Transport, and Safety and Liaison, Mandla Makupula and Weziwe Tikana, remain at the helm of their respective portfolios.

Sihlwayi appeared shocked at news of the announcement.

“Where is the reshuffle? Has it happened? Why have I not seen it?” she asked.

She said she could not comment until she had received formal communication.

Before the announcement was made, Qoboshiyane – who was in Uitenhage with a delegation from Germany – said he believed that plans to sack him had nothing to do with his performance.

“I’m informed that it [cabinet reshuffle] is not about performance,” he said.

“South Africans and Eastern Cape people do understand what we’re doing and [what] the task [is] at hand, so I don’t have any ill feelings.

“As long as I’ve served my province to the best of my ability, congratulations to anyone that is going to occupy the position.”

ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi said it was happy with the changes.

He said the party’s expectation was that this group would work cohesively and with the ANC to achieve its objectives.

Cosatu provincial secretary Xolani Malamlela said the changes would create one centre of power in the province, with Masualle’s presence ensuring a smooth transition.

“As much as we accept the reshuffle, there was not enough consultation on the part of the alliance in terms of who must go where in this reshuffle.

“But that will be discussed internally,” Malamlela said.

Sanco provincial secretary Tony Duba said he hoped the new people coming into the executive would continue to do the good work of government.

He said he had faith in Mabuyane, who has a background in economics, to drive investments and jobs to the province.

SACP provincial spokesman Siyabonga Mdodi said the party hoped the new MECs would put the people of the Eastern Cape first.

The DA’s leader in the provincial legislature, Bobby Stevenson, said the reshuffle would do nothing for political stability and service delivery.

“It remains to be seen how long premier Phumulo Masualle will last in the job and if this is just the first round of cabinet changes to come,” he said.

UDM MPL Max Mhlati said in politics, performance was not a criterion, but rather a party looked at which faction you belonged to.

“Qoboshiyane was devoted to the portfolio.

“He gave himself to the portfolio and it’s a pity that, in politics, they don’t look at your performance when making such decisions,” he said.