ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE SUNDAY TIMES
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL/THE SUNDAY TIMES

Reshuffling the Cabinet would be handled with speed, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said on Sunday after a special meeting of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) in Pretoria.

President Jacob Zuma reshuffled the Cabinet 11 times during his nine years in office, and there was an outcry from his party after the last one in October because he had not consulted its top officials.

Magashule also indicated that the party’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, “strongly emphasised” to the meeting “the need for ANC leaders and members to honour the deployments entrusted to them by the organisation and the need for consequence management where comrades fail to do so”.

As part of a host of new permanent appointments to positions in the party’s headquarters, former ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa will be placed in the office of the president to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the party’s resolutions, the performance of its deployees and to assess progress in service delivery.

The reshuffle is looming after Ramaphosa’s swearing in as head of state just a little more than a week ago amid speculation that ministers who have been performing poorly and those implicated in corruption and state-capture scandals are facing the chop.

Within minutes of Ramaphosa being sworn in there were calls for the removal of ministers Bathabile Dlamini, Mosebenzi Zwane, Lynne Brown, Malusi Gigaba and Faith Muthambi from the Cabinet.

Magashule said a cabinet reshuffle was always the prerogative of the president in, or after, consultation with the party’s national officials.

The ANC’s top six officials will be meeting on Monday and Magashule said: “If the matter arises then, we will then discuss it there.”

Magashule said the party would be moving with speed to address the issue of Ramaphosa’s Cabinet — “so that there is no anxiety”.

The country has been without a deputy president since Ramaphosa was sworn in. Magashule said this would be addressed “as we package the entire Cabinet. It will be very, very, very soon.”

Business Day reported last week that Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, who is deputy president of the ANC, told his provincial cabinet that he would be vacating his office soon because of new responsibilities.

Many political commentators expected a cabinet reshuffle before Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba presented the budget last week, announcing an increase in value-added tax (VAT) of one percentage point.

Magashule said Ramaphosa had reflected on the budget at the meeting, taking note of SA’s constrained fiscal space and the need for “difficult decisions” — including the proposed increase in VAT. He said the NEC had agreed that the government had to consider a further range of measures to alleviate any negative consequences on the poor due to the VAT increase, including additions to the list of zero-rated and tax-exempted items.

Magashule said former KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu would be deployed full-time to the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters as chairman of the organising and campaigns committee. Mchunu was narrowly defeated when he contested the position of secretary-general at the ANC’s national conference in December.

Asked if Mchunu was being deployed to that committee to neutralise him, Magashule replied that the powers of the secretary-general were very clear in the ANC’s constitution, and there was “no way” Mchunu would be deployed to Luthuli House to neutralise him.