The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) on Tuesday condemned the cabinet reshuffle announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday night, saying the changes showed that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was now “terminally sick” and divided.

Ramaphosa axed 10 ministers while bringing back some trusted lieutenants such as Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene, and announcing ANC deputy president David Mabuza as his second-in-command in government as well.

Saftu said Ramaphosa had merely reshuffled names “but remains rooted in the corrupt and pro-business ANC led by his predecessor”, referring to former president Jacob Zuma.

“Saftu welcomes the dismissal of discredited ministers – Lynne Brown, Mosebenzi Zwane, Des van Rooyen, David Mahlobo, Bongani Bongo, Nathi Nhleko, Fikile Mbalula, Faith Muthambi, Joe Maswanganyi, and Hlengiwe Mkhize,” it said.

“However, several ministers implicated in corruption or incompetence have just been moved from one department to another. It is a monstrous insult to women that Bathabile Dlamini, a minister who has brought the social grant distribution system to the brink of collapse, which could hit the poorest of the poor, mainly women, should be appointed as minister for women.”

The union said Mabuza’s appointment was “incredible” given that he had been implicated in crime while premier of Mpumalanga province.

Putting Gordhan and Nene in charge of the key economic portfolios of public enterprises and finance was a sure sign that Ramaphosa would continue with business as usual, with the priority to appease credit ratings agencies and investors at the expense of workers, Saftu said.

“For the working class and the poor this reshuffle offers nothing but more job losses, deepening poverty and ever-widening inequality. This had already been foreshadowed in the scandalous budget speech which imposed a cut in living standards through the one percent(age point) increase in VAT and spending cuts in real terms in vital public services,” it said.

“It is a crisis in the whole ANC leadership of which multi-billionaire Ramaphosa was a leading figure, who never lifted a finger to expose and denounce the looting of public resources since 2009 and backed the neoliberal national development plan.”

Saftu said the reshuffle was “nothing more the a clumsy attempt to paper over the cracks” in the ruling ANC’s national executive council “while pushing ahead with a pro-capitalist, free-market economic strategy”.

– African News Agency (ANA)