Zuma Fires Sexwale, Pule in S. African Cabinet Shake-Up

South African President Jacob Zuma fired Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale and two others in his Cabinet as he seeks to bolster his administration’s performance before next year’s election.

Sexwale, who aborted a bid to challenge Zuma for the top post in the ruling African National Congress in 2007 and took up a Cabinet post instead, was replaced by lawmaker and former labor unionist Connie September. Zuma, 71, made the announcement to reporters in the capital, Pretoria, without giving reasons for the changes.

Dina Pule, who has been implicated in alleged corrupt activities, was replaced as communications minister by Yunus Carrim, the deputy cooperative governance minister. He becomes the fourth person to hold the post in four years.

Richard Baloyi lost his position as cooperative governance minister to Lechesa Tsenoli, the deputy minister of rural development and land reform. Transport Minister Ben Martins and Energy Minister Dipuo Peters traded posts.

“The government departments that are changing hands are in need of change,” Susan Booysen, a politics professor at the University of Johannesburg, said in a phone interview. “Zuma is playing to the court of public opinion.”

Zuma, who took control of Africa’s largest economy in May 2009, is under pressure to respond to mounting disenchantment over the government’s performance. There were a record 173 protests by poor, black township residents over a lack of housing and basic services last year, according to Johannesburg-based research group Municipal IQ.

Housing Shortage

“Twenty years of democracy have changed the face of our country and the last five years have pushed that change forward,” Zuma said. “To take that change forward, I have decided to make some changes to the national executive.”

More than 8 million South Africans lack proper housing, government data shows.

Sexwale, one of South Africa’s richest black citizens who was appointed human settlements minister in May 2009, failed to win re-election to the ANC’s top decision-making body in December. He was dropped after contesting the party’s deputy presidency, a post that was won by Cyril Ramaphosa.

Pule is currently being investigated by the police and the Public Protector, the nation’s graft ombudsman, following several newspaper reports alleging she was involved in corruption. She has denied any wrongdoing.

Zuma named his parliamentary adviser John Jeffery as deputy justice minister to replace Andries Nel, who takes over Carrim’s post. Pamela Tshwete was appointed to replace Tsenoli, while Michael Masutta was named deputy minister of science and technology.

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