Practically half the South African government’s cabinet has resigned including popular finance minister Trevor Manuel and deputy-president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngucka. This is a shock — especially because Manuel had claimed he was staying on. After meetings with Zuma, it was believed that everybody (with the exception of the odious Essop Pahad, minister in the presidency, and Azapo’s Mosibudi Mangena, minister of science and technology) was staying on. Today’s announcements clearly render those reassurances false. The Times lists the other ministers that resigned as the following:
- Mosiuoa Lekota (defence)
- Essop Pahad (minister in the presidency)
- Ronnie Kasrils (intelligence)
- Ngconde Balfour (correctional services)
- Alec Erwin (public enterprises)
- Mosibudi Mangena (science and technolog)
- Thoko Didiza (public works)
- Sydney Mufamadi (provincial and local government)
- Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi (public service and administration)
Three deputies — Aziz Pahad in foreign affairs, Jabu Moleketi in the Treasury and Loretta Jacobus from the correctional services department — have also resigned.
This is an unfortunate development because the inevitable uncertainty and instability caused by this departure of leadership will hamper the government’s ability to deliver on its mandate in the final months before the election. It is clearly a signal that these Mbeki-leaning ministers do not condone the way in which the president has been treated. Hopefully the mass resignations increases the likelihood of a new separate party being formed to challenge the Zuma camp. Mind you, I certainly hope this is the last we see of the likes of Essop Pahad, Alec Erwin and the spectacularly inept Ngconde Balfour on the political stage. It’s too bad the communications minister, Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri, hasn’t resigned too. And why didn’t Manto call it a day, either?
The question is who will be the replacing the departing ministers, and will they have the skills and experience to do the job?