President Jacob Zuma on Monday announced the second Cabinet reshuffle of his term, announcing replacements, among others, for Sicelo Shiceka, minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, and Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, public works minister.
The president also suspended Bheki Cele, the national police commissioner, with immediate effect, pending the outcome of a commission of inquiry into a controversial police lease deal involving the police chief and Mahlangu-Nkabinde.
Zuma had been under pressure to act against Shiceka, Cele and Mahlangu-Nkabinde after they were found to have acted improperly by the public protector.
Cele will receive his full salary and other benefits while on suspension, while Major General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi will act in his position.
The board of inquiry into the police lease deal will be led by retired Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, alongside advocates Terry Motau and Anthea Platt, Zuma said.
Thulas Nxesi, the deputy minister of rural development and land reform, has been appointed as minister of public works.
Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi was appointed to replace Shiceka, who went on sick leave in February this year. While he was on leave, Thuli Madonsela, the public protector, found him guilty of misspending about R1m on hotel accommodation and a trip to Switzerland, allegedly to visit a girlfriend imprisoned for a drug-related crime.
Madonsela reported that Shiceka had lied about the nature of his trip to Switzerland, which cost the taxpayer R546864, and that he had wasted more money on two stays in Cape Town’s luxury One&Only hotel.
She gave Zuma 60 days to take “serious action” against the minister, who had been on sick leave since February yet continued to travel domestically at state expense. She said Shiceka had also booked into the Lesotho Sun hotel for four days in March and insisted his department pay the R357120 bill with an accommodation voucher.
The public protector said last week that she and her team had tried to find evidence to explain Shiceka’s actions. “We did try and look for evidence in favour of the minister … to explain his conduct … but I couldn’t find any,” she said.
Earlier this year, in two reports on leases for police accommodation in Pretoria and in Durban totalling almost R2bn, the public protector also found that Mahlangu-Nkabinde and Cele were guilty of maladministration and illegal actions in approving the leases.
Zuma did not take questions from reporters following Monday’s announcement.
Credit to: Sam Mkokeli from Business Day