Zuma replaces seven ministers

South African president announces the biggest cabinet shake-up since he took office last year.

    Zuma describes Sunday's cabinet reshuffle as aimed at improving basic services in South Africa [GALLO/GETTY]

    The ministers in charge of communications and labour are among those sacked in a cabinet reshuffle South Africa's president says will speed change in the lives of poor South Africans.

    Jacob Zuma announced at a news conference in the capital, Pretoria, on Sunday that a third of the cabinet was being changed.

    "Given the fact that we still face serious challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality in the country, government has to work at a faster pace to change the lives of the poor," he said.

    "We reiterate that we need a national executive and public service that knows where our people live, who fully understand the needs of our people and what we are trying to achieve."

    South African media had been speculating for weeks about a reshuffle in the 34-minister cabinet. Zuma named 10 new ministers and also added deputies in several areas including the police ministry. South Africa's high levels of violent crime have been a political issue.

    The mining ministry, which has been plagues by charges of corruption and mismanagement, also got a deputy.

    Most of South Africa's black majority remains poor 16 years after the end of apartheid, and pledges to improve their lives dominated Zuma's campaign last year.

    He led his African National Congress party to overwhelming victory, and has been under pressure since taking office in May 2009 to make his promises reality.

    Zuma's government pledged last week to create five million jobs over the next decade. Pravin Gordhan, the finance minister, has said that would require growth of more than six per cent a year.

    South Africa's growth was a negative 1.8 per cent in 2009, a drop blamed on the 2008 global recession, and nearly one million jobs were lost here last year. The International Monetary Fund predicted this week that South Africa's growth for 2010 would be between three per cent and 3.5 per cent for 2011.

    In addition to labour and communications, the ministries with new leaders are public works; women, children and people with disabilities; water and environmental affairs; public service and administration; public enterprises; sports and recreation; arts and culture; and social development.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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