Is Blade for the chop? 4


Minister Blade Nzimande Media reports have speculated that the newly sworn-in MP Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could be on her way to the Cabinet.

This would be in a reshuffle that could also see Dr Blade Nzimande (who is also the Secretary General of Jacob Zuma’s foes the SA Communist Party) replaced as Minister of Higher Education and Training.

Nzimande was appointed to the position of Minister of Higher Education and Training by President Zuma when he took office in 2009. His new ministry combined the further and higher education departments with the skills development function which had previously been with the Department of Labour.

The combined department was supposed to bridge the gap between the formal education sector and the workplace training efforts underway in companies.

Reports in the Sunday Times noted that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (NDZ) was to be sworn in as an MP, which seemed to fairly obviously mean that she would be taking up another Cabinet position soon. NDZ has held a number of Ministerial positions previously and then served as Chairperson of the African Union.

She is seen as closely aligned to her ex-husband, President Zuma, and the chosen presidential nominee for his ‘camp’. A movement to a full cabinet position would bolster her position in the country ahead of December’s elective conference for the ANC.

The speculation in the Sunday Times went further to suggest that the President would appoint her to the position of Minister of Higher Education and Training in a cabinet reshuffle. She would then release the report into university fees and announce free education as a tool to encourage the electorate to vote for the ANC. It was seen as a move to bolster the youth vote specifically.

Nzimande has been strongly in the anti-Jacob Zuma camp in his role as SACP leader, so it seems to make sense that the President would take any opportunity to remove him.

Nzimande laughed off the rumours on Monday, saying that he couldn’t comment on media speculation. Political commentator Stephen Friedman said it was unlikely that Zuma would remove Nzimande. Quoted in the Business Day, Friedman said that it was well known that the SACP and Zuma did not see eye-to-eye. However he doubted that Zuma would ‘declare war’ on the organisation so close to the elective conference.

If Nzimande were to be removed it would be a blow for the Higher Education and Training Department where he has provided stability over his eight year term. The doctor of sociology has shown a great affinity with the higher and further education sectors, and been particularly supportive of the TVET College sector.

As one would expect from a leader of the SACP, Nzimande has been no fan of private education and training but this is true of all ANC leaders.

When a new Minister is appointed it seems to always lead to a change of plans. Long developed projects are dropped and new initiatives are started. The change of leader often leads to a wasteful period when changes are made and delivery on the ground is delayed.

Those who are not supportive of the Minister’s plans however might welcome a change of direction at the DHET.

What do you think? Would a change of Minister be a good thing for the department or would the changes that usually come with a new leader cause too much disruption in the department?

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4 thoughts on “Is Blade for the chop?

  • Tebogo Boroto

    No doubt Blade has done a lot since he took over office. What differentiated him is his 1.decisiveness and 2. willingness to engage other stakeholders. Can we safely say that leaders are abound to be found wanting in those two fronts if they are cocky and arrogant? Of which he is not.
    However, he has to report at both the parly and Luthuli House and it is at the latter where it all comes down.
    With Gigaba controlling finances, it is not going to be easy to reach a decision on how to tackle the financing of free education simply because he is not his own man like the two finance ministers who preceded him. So it might be easy for the powers that be at Luthuli House to agree with Zuma on replacing Blade for his ex as a means to buy time on that issue of free education. It will be easy to explain to all and sundry that: “let the new minister find her footing first and then let’s allow her to show us her plan going forward”.

  • Nigel Shipston

    I believe Dr. Nzimande has proven, with his recent decisions regarding the DHET registration of private training providers, that he is willing to co-operate and assist private training providers within reason. At this stage, with so much he has put into the education and training sector, it would be a shame to have him removed for some demented, ill advised political manoeuvre. Do you remove a coach who is achieving something? Suffer all the growing pains of a new encumbent while all the preparations of years fall apart?

    In all honesty, I care not what party Dr. Nzimande is affiliated to, and there are times when perhaps you may question some decisions made. However, he has proven a man of integrity (something of a rarity in our current line-up), and a reasonable man willing to take action. I shudder at the thought of any changes at this time, and certainly, the speculated replacement is enough to bring on convulsions!

    Blade must NOT go!

  • Fazel Ernest

    My few pence worth!
    I absolutely believe that a change in Minister and/or philosophical mindset change in the corridors of the DHET will be catastrophic. I’ve always surported Dr. Nzimande’s ethos of elevating the development and position of Technical and Vocational Institutions as a means of addressing the dirty in skills development and talent production. I firmly believe this to be the case in the socio-economic phase of our skills revolution currently being focussed upon.
    The propensity of this ethos to focus on Youth and the under-employed is a saving grace for our National Democratic Revolution. Compromising this will only result in destroying decades of progress and especially averting a social crises upon which South Africa is teetering.

  • sylvia hammond

    Personally, I believe that Minister Nzimande has provided leadership and brought cohesion to what was fragmented, & the White Paper provides that vision. He has also brought in new universities and enhanced the TVET college structures, which are of benefit to youth. He has been extremely constructive and responsive to the inputs from the private providers, evidenced by the DHET now accepting CCs to register as providers – following his intervention.
    Everything is not perfect and there is much more work to be done. However, it does not matter who is put in – someone new will result in delays. Education and training are key elements of our redress agenda. We need to stop moving the deckchairs, and get on with implementation – in the interests of resolving our education deficit, and providing the means to assist people to rise out of poverty.