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Africa

Zuma asserts his authority

Analysts are pouring over South African President Jacob Zuma's cabinet reshuffle in which he fired three ministers. They include a rival who had criticized his performance at the helm of Africa's most powerful economy.

South African President Jacob Zuma arrives ahead of addressing editors at the SA National Editors' Forum (Sanef) in Johannesburg June 24, 2013. South Africans appeared resigned on Monday to the inevitability of one day saying goodbye to former president Nelson Mandela after the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader's condition in hospital deteriorated to critical.Madiba, as he is affectionately known, is revered among most of South Africa's 53 million people as the architect of the peaceful 1994 transition to multi-racial democracy after three centuries of white domination.REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH SOCIETY)

Südafrika Jacob Zuma zu Mandela 24.06.2013

Tokyo Sexwale, a 60-year-old veteran of the fight against apartheid and former ally of President Zuma, has been sacked from his post as housing minister.

He was among a group of senior African National Congress (ANC) members who were reportedly looking to replace Zuma last year. Sexwale had voiced criticism of Zuma's handling of the economy.

Zuma is more or less guaranteed to run for re-election in 2014 election, having won the leadership contest of the ruling ANC party in December 2012.

Communications minister Dina Pule has also lost her job. She has been embroiled in scandal since being accused in media reports of giving preferential treatment to a firm run by her then-boyfriend, a charge she denies.

Duncan McLeod, editor of techcentral.co.za, a technology and telecoms news website, told DW's Thuso Khumalo that Pule's departure came as no surprise. Apart from the scandal, South Africa had missed "deadline after deadline" in the internationally coordinated switch-over from analogue to digital technology in terrestrial television.

"I have decided to make some changes"

Another cabinet member to lose his job was traditional affairs minister Richard Baloyi.

Supporters of President Jacob Zuma celebrate as delegates to the National Conference of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) begin voting for their leadership in Bloemfontein, December 17, 2012. Zuma is being challenged by his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe for the position of President of the party which has ruled South Africa since the country's first democratic elections in 1994. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Zuma was re-elected ANC leader in December 2012 and is almost assured of an election victory in 2014

President Zuma was non-committal about the reasons for the reshuffle, his fourth in his first term, saying merely "I have decided to make some changes."

Nic Dawes, editor-in-chief of South Africa's Mail & Guardian, said the reshuffle reflects a willingness by Zuma to "punish people who he sees - and in fact are widely seen - as underperformers."

But the much maligned basic education minister, Angie Motshekga, at the center of a scandal in which textbooks went undelivered to schools in Limpopo province, has kept her post.

Dawes said Zuma has made it very clear that he intends to stand by this minister. "She certainly is a key political supporter of his. She's an important figure in the ANC's Women's League and I don't think she's going anywhere," he said.

He added that many people were disappointed by this and "have said that on a performance basis, she should have been one of the first to go, but I don't think that's ever really been on the cards."

The opposition Democratic Alliance has criticised the reshuffle saying President Zuma was prioritizing his political survival over good governance.

But the powerful Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) has welcomed the reshuffle.