The surprise Cabinet reshuffle which took place last week was the result of President Jacob Zuma ceding to pressure from a Russian group of police, officials and intelligence operatives.
Former state security minister and now head of the energy portfolio, David Mahlobo is understood to be the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Russian government.
Mahlobo was moved from state security to energy by Zuma last week when he announced changes to his administration which saw SACP general secretary, Blade Nzimande being dropped from the Cabinet.
According to Sunday Times, Zuma is understood to have met with several high level and powerful officials from Russia who flew in to discuss the controversial nuclear deal and pressure the President to speed up the process and have the deal signed off by the minister of energy.
“Their visit was to deliver what many of us believe to be the final warning to the South African authorities. We have now been warned. This group does not normally leave Russia. These are members of the military, police and intelligence,” a source told the weekly newspaper.
Another source said Zuma was fearful of the Russians and realised they meant business after their visit.
“Zuma’s initial plan was to appoint Muthambi, but was pressured by the Russians to instead appoint Mahlobo. He is sh–t scared because he realises that the Russsians aren’t playing,” the source said.
Former minister of energy and now minister of home affairs Nkhensani Kubayi was allegedly axed from her position because at a meeting with the Russians, she was reluctant to commit to signing the deal, stating reasons varying from being new to the department to having to understand the implications to the country of such a deal.
Details of the meeting between Mahlobo, George Moloisi, Zuma and the Russians outline how the Russian team came into the country via Mozambique, spent a few hours in a meeting and left on Monday last week.
Read also: Nzimande: Zuma is a desperate man