South African President Jacob Zuma has reshuffled his cabinet for a fourth time, sacking three ministers, including a former anti-apartheid activist and a critic of his administration.
Tokyo Sexwale, who has been human settlement minister, was fired on Tuesday along with embattled communications minister Dina Pule and the minister of traditional affairs, Richard Baloyi.
The reshuffle, announced less than a year before Zuma seeks re-election for another five-year term, followed Sexwale's criticism of the president's stewardship of the economy, Africa's largest.
Sexwale, a wealthy businessman, was jailed on the Robben Island like Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president and an anti-apartheid icon.
The businessman was among a group of senior African National Congress (ANC) members looking to replace Zuma last year.
However, Zuma is almost assured of being the party's presidential candidate in 2014 after winning an ANC leadership contest in December.
Analysts say he has high chances of winning the 2014 election given his ruling ANC's stranglehold over politics but international credit agencies have downgraded South Africa in the last year, citing his ineffectual leadership among other long-term risks.
One of the dismissed ministers has been facing allegations of being involved in shady deals.
Pule stands accused of giving preferential treatment to a firm run by her then-boyfriend - a charge she denies.
The ministers of energy and transport swapped portfolios while the much-maligned basic education minister, Angie Motshekga, at the centre of scandal in which textbooks went undelivered for months to a province, kept her post.
Many ANC veterans feel Zuma has steered Mandela's former liberation movement away from its idealistic beginnings and into a morass of graft, cronyism and a culture of self-enrichment.
Mandela, now 94 years old, has spent a month in hospital battling a lung infection that has left him in critical condition.
South Africa was mired in recession when Zuma came to power, but since then has struggled to pick up to pre-2008 growth rates of around 5 percent.
Since the ANC assumed power after the end of apartheid in 1994, the government has built hundreds of thousands of houses and provided basic service to millions of poor blacks left by the wayside during white-minority rule.
But festering labour strife in the mining sector, a poor education system and a rigid jobs market have been eroding South Africa's economic competitiveness.