ANC treasurer-general and presidential hopeful Zweli Mkhize has called for an urgent meeting with the SA Communist Party (SACP) to ease tensions following President Jacob Zuma's decision to fire Blade Nzimande during a surprise Cabinet reshuffle this week. According to The Sowetan on Thursday, Mkhize said the meeting should also look at "a number of issues that have played themselves out in the public arena over the past few months".
Mkhize also told the paper that the ANC had not expected the Cabinet reshuffle, although Zuma had informed the party's most senior officials that he intended to do it. He said that the top echelons of the party had previously raised concerns about the timing and frequency of Cabinet reshuffles.
"We are going through a difficult time because of the pending conference and various issues we have to deal with," he reportedly said.
Nzimande was replaced by Hlengiwe Mkhize during the reshuffle. The SACP called the move a direct attack on the party by Zuma, according to the Mail & Guardian.
The SACP's first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila reportedly said the move was in response to the SACP and Cosatu's call for Zuma to step down, and said this was a "factional reshuffle".
"If the president thinks that by removing Dr Nzimande from Cabinet he will silence the SACP from the leading role it has played to expose and confront state capture, he is glaringly mistaken. 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 dead woods and compromised individuals in Cabinet", he said.
Mkhize told Eyewitness News (EWN) on Wednesday that the reshuffle was a "pity" and said: "It came as a surprise.
"And, as usual, we have made our comments on that matter, but we can't take away the fact that the president has got the executive authority to effect changes in the executive," he said.