The leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in Mpumalanga, Bonakele Majuba, on Wednesday said they were not consulted about the decision to reshuffle the cabinet of the Mpumalanga government.

Premier DD Mabuza today announced the reshuffling of his cabinet at a press conference held at the Riverside Government Complex. In what is seen as a calculated chess move to consolidate his power base and close ranks against his dissenters, as the focus steadfastly turns towards the ANC’s 2017 elective conference.

A week ago two cabinet vacancies were created when two MECs were redeployed to municipalities. Social Development MEC Nomsa Mtsweni was appointed mayor of Thembisile Hani municipality while Public Works, Roads and Transport MEC Dumisile Nhlengwetha became speaker of Msukaligwa.

In his message of support to the December 2015 conference that elected Mabuza to a third term in office and speaking in his capacity as ANCYL deputy president, Desmond Moela called for ‘certain MECs to fall’ as they were ‘not assisting young people’.

“We also need those blue lights as young people” he said to applause.

In what can be seen to be a culmination of that call, Premier David Mabuza today announced Sasekani Manzini – former YL provincial secretary – as the new Public Works, Roads and Transport MEC in Nhlengethwa’s place  and Busi Shiba in Mtsweni’s place.

Shiba was the mayor of the Chief Albert Luthuli municipality in the Gert Sibande district.

A source in the party’s eHlanzeni regional executive committee told 013NEWS that Mabuza was realigning the cabinet and more specifically the departments with big budgets in order to have a firm grip on resources going towards the contestation of the party’s top positions. He also said that Sports and Culture MEC Norah Mahlangu-Mabena could also be reshuffled.

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The other two MECs who lost their jobs were Agriculture and Land Affairs’ Andries Gamede and Human Settlement’s Violet Siwela. Vusi Shongwe was moved from Safety and Security Department to head up the Agriculture Department, replacing Gamede. Legislature deputy chief whip Pat Ngomane will take over from Shongwe who moves to Agriculture and Land Affairs while Nkangala regional chairman Speedy Mashilo takes over from Siwela as the new Human Settlement MEC.

Siwela is now the deputy speaker of the legislature.

Last week ANC provincial secretary Mandla Ndlovu indicated that they now want to strengthen capacity of local government by putting “strong and tested leaders” in government but said it was not true that Nhlengethwa and Mtsweni’s appointments to municipalities were a demotion.

Last week Thursday Mabuza appointed his former rival Peter Nyoni, who has now been united with him, to be head of department as well Nyoni’s wife, Jester Sidel, to be a municipal mayor.

(edited by MM)