Veteran African National Congress (ANC) MP, and a member of the very first democratic Cabinet, Derek Hanekom has also resigned his seat in Parliament.
News24 understands he has notified the ANC of his decision and that he could take up a position in the Presidency.
Hanekom has served as minister of land reform, science and technology and tourism in the governments of Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. But he was surprisingly left out of Ramaphosa’s newly-configured Cabinet two weeks ago.
Hanekom did not want to comment on the matter. ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina confirmed Hanekom's resignation.
His resignation is the latest in a spate of departures of high-profile ANC MPs who were either left out of Cabinet or who not appointed to higher office. This includes Bathabile Dlamini, Jeff Radebe, Siyabonga Cwele, Susan Shabangu, Nomaindia Mfeketo, Dipuo Letsatsi-Peters and Tokozile Xasa.
The respected former tourism minister previously indicated he was happy to serve as a legislator and was not going to resign in order to qualify for ministerial pension benefits. It is, however, understood that he has made himself available for a position in the Union Buildings after he was requested to do so.
Hanekom is a vociferous critic of the State capture project and grand corruption that has beset the ANC, and was dismissed by Zuma during the Cabinet purge of March 30, 2017, during which then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas were also fired.
Hanekom then attempted to table a motion of no confidence in Zuma during a meeting of the ANC’s national executive committee and was an active supporter of Ramaphosa during the latter’s campaign for the party leadership.
His omission from Ramaphosa’s Cabinet came as a surprise to many, given his staunch support for him and his mooted reforms of state and party.
The tourism industry also reacted with shock, with Hanekom considered to be a trusted and effective advocate of tourism as economic driver.