South Africa’s President Zuma commended for high-profile sackings

By Crystal Van Wyk
Posted on Tuesday, 25 October 2011 09:26

In a surprise move South African leader, President Jacob Zuma flexed his muscle and showed who is in charge of the country by announcing a major cabinet reshuffle, firing two ministers, allegedly involved in corruption and suspending the country’s police commissioner.

The Cooperative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu Nkabinde were axed from their government positions.

Shiceka was suspected of spending 600,000 South African Rand on luxury accommodation and travel including overseas visits to a girlfriend imprisoned in Switzerland for drug smuggling.

Nkabinde was named in a government-sanctioned report for suspected illegal conduct in property rental deals worth millions.

Zuma said he had also informed the National Police Commissioner, General Bheki Cele of “his intention to institute a Board of Inquiry to look into the allegations of misconduct, in relation to the procurement of office accommodation for the South African Police Service, as per the findings and recommendations of the Public Protector”.

Zuma said, Cele “will, during the period of suspension, be entitled to his full salary, allowances, privileges and benefits”.

A terse statement from Cele’s spokesperson said, “… the commissioner respects the president’s decision and is extremely confident that he will emerge completely vindicated from the forthcoming inquiry”.

Political analyst, David Africa said President Jacob Zuma needed to move decisively if he wished to retain his position at Manguang, the all- important ANC conference-taking place next year.

Africa says the action, provides Zuma legitimacy and the air of open, transparent government, as well as dealing with his political enemies.

Zuma also named the members of the commission of inquiry he announced in September that would investigate allegations of fraud and corruption in the multi-million arms deal.

The president also announced a two-year time frame for the arms deal inquiry.

Meanwhile, leaders of the country’s opposition including Democratic Alliance’s Helen Zille have commended Zuma’s decision.

“Accountability is critical to making democracy work. If ministers abuse their power, they must be fired” said Zille.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party has labelled Zuma’s move as a “victory” and “proof that our constitutional machinery works”.

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