After returning from his mysterious trip in an unspecified country where he went “with friends”, Zoran Zaev laid the timetable for the planned purge of the Government. He said that at the beginning of June he will replace several ministers, deputy ministers and public sector managers, and another purge of lower level officials will follow at the end of the month.
Zaev promised to remove his corrupt and incompetent ministers following the drubbing his coalition received in the presidential elections, when it lost 2/5 of its votes total from the recent 2017 municipal elections. But, faced with difficulties to cut people from competing SDSM factions and especially adding the interests of his DUI coalition partner to the mix, Zaev remained silent about his plans, until today.
All ministers are responsible to the citizens, Zaev said, when asked how he expects to remove DUI officials when they are publicly declaring that only DUI leader Ali Ahmeti can replace them, especially after Albanian parties like DUI helped save Stevo Pendarovski’s presidential campaign from defeat and spared Zaev the danger of early general elections.
Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani underlined that changes to the DUI ministers can only happen after a joint analysis prepared by SDSM and DUI, and not based on Zaev’s plans alone. But, this collides with Zaev’s statement that the changes are coming in early June, where he implied he already knows who gets canned.
The names of a number of ministers are thrown in the rumor mill. Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce was involved in a number of dubious public procurements of medicine, and has badly mishandled the measles epidemic. Deputy Prime Minister Koco Angusev is in the news daily with his private companies who win public contracts, and even sparked a corruption investigation in Greece.
And Public Administration Minister Damjan Mancevski drew the ire of the public over his general involvement but also public defense of the widespread practice where SDSM and DUI officials hire their close relatives in the public service. This never-ending nepotism scandal is believed to have eroded Zaev support as much as the imposed name change.