Durban – THE unexpected reshuffling of the KwaZulu-Natal cabinet on Tuesday has exposed a previously unseen political powder keg in the province with the developments described as reflecting Premier Sihle Zikalala’s mission to neutralise MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube.
These sentiments were expressed by some senior provincial ANC insiders, who spoke exclusively to the Daily News following Zikalala’s decision to move Dube-Ncube from economic development, tourism and environmental affairs to finance, and MEC Ravi Pillay taking her portfolio.
Announcing the reshuffle, Zikalala said the “reconfiguration will certainly reinvigorate and introduce effective service delivery that will position government to focus on accelerating transformation, and bring us closer to the realisation of a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous KwaZuluNatal.”
However, high-ranking officials in the movement told a different story, claiming that the reshuffling was merely aimed at removing Dube-Ncube from the province’s strategic economic department to a less important portfolio.
One high ranking ANC official, who supports Dube-Ncube, went as far as to say that the move was “personal”.
The individual said Dube-Ncube understood the task of transforming the economy for the benefit of rural and township communities.
“If we are talking about the 11.1 million population of KwaZulu-Natal you need somebody who understands the rural and township communities and economy,” said an activist.
Another source, who is a leading and vocal ANC activist in the province, with intricate knowledge of the relationship between Zikalala and Dube-Ncube, said Zikalala was out to deal decisively with Dube-Ncube’s political reputation because of her ambition to become premier.
Zikalala’s spokesperson, Lennox Mabaso, declined to respond to questions sent to him, saying that they had been addressed at a press briefing held on Tuesday.
He told the media that the reshuffling had nothing to do with politics.
He said he was confident that the provincial cabinet change enjoyed the support of the business and tourism sector.
Dube-Ncube’s spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, also refused to respond to questions on the relationship between her and Zikalala.
Instead he spoke about her plans for her new portfolio.
Ravi Pillay’s office also did not comment.
The Daily News understands that in her campaign to climb the government ladder, Dube-Ncube was allegedly undermining Zikalala by running government programmes that are parallel with those of the office of the premier.
Another high-ranking official said Zikalala was said to be living in fear of his political career as he was “on the back foot in terms of politics as both the so-called CR17 and Radical Economic Transformation camps had turned against him”.
The source added: “The government is the only card he has to regain his political powers. There are feelings that Zikalala would not be re-elected when his term of ANC office comes to an end in 2023 because he has broken so many trusts. What he wants now is to leave a legacy.”
Nhlakanipho Ntombela, the ANC provincial spokesperson, said the provincial executive committee and provincial working committee (PWC) had early this month met to discuss challenges facing all departments, and later asked officials, the top five, to further discuss how to deal with the challenges.
“So if the premier sees that it is only one department that has challenges, then that is his right,” said Ntombela.
Ntombela said he was sure that when the PWC met again in two weeks’ time it would discuss the reshuffling.
He denied knowing about Dube-Ncube’s ambition of becoming a premier.
“I don’t know where this comes from. We are still going to have regional conferences, provincial conferences then the national conference before premiers are appointed,” he said.