The axing of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande is a "factional removal" that places the tripartite alliance on the "brink of disintegration", the SA Communist Party said on Tuesday following a surprise Cabinet reshuffle by President Jacob Zuma.
"We emphatically reject these manoeuvres that place the Alliance on the brink of disintegration. Our view is that this is not a reshuffle but the targeted removal of [Nzimande] as a direct attack on the SACP," the party said.
"Ordinarily the aim of any cabinet reshuffle must be to strengthen the capacity of the state. But in this case that is not the intention, especially with the retention of so many deadwoods and compromised individuals in Cabinet."
Nzimande is the general-secretary of the SACP.
Tuesday's Cabinet reshuffle saw State Security minister David Mahlobo being sent over to the Energy portfolio and Nzimande being sacked and replaced by newly appointed Home Affairs minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize.
The SACP said Zuma's "continued authoritarianism" has plunged the alliance into "unchartered waters".
"In fact this action, more than anything else, also compromises and further tarnishes the image of the ANC itself. Zuma's removal of Nzimande from the Cabinet without consultation with the alliance is nothing but a response to the popular call, led by the SACP and COSATU, for the President to resign," the party said.
"In addition, the removal of Nzimande from the Cabinet is part of Zuma's manoeuvres to secure successful election of his ordained successor at the forthcoming ANC December national conference...If the President thinks that by removing Nzimande he will silence the SACP...he is glaringly mistaken."
The ANC's spokeswoman, Khusela Sangoni, said the party has no comment.
The party's secretary-general Gwede Mantashe also declined to comment.
"I do not want to comment on this matter," he said.
Asked if the ANC's top six was briefed about this decision, Mantashe repeated the same line.
Congress of South African Trade Unions spokesman Sizwe Pamla could not be reached for comment.