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.
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.
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.