When Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his maiden state of the nation address on Friday night that he intends to reduce the size of his Cabinet, he did so amidst calls for him to appoint a minister of finance with integrity to deliver budget speech, and to balance the forces within the ruling party with executive appointments.
Ramaphosa fired warning shots that he intends introducing a much smaller Cabinet and that the personnel who will fill those positions should have experience and the expertise required to become political heads of government departments.
“It is critical that the structure and size of the state is optimally suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources. We will therefore initiate a process to review the configuration, number and size of national government departments,” he said to loud applause to members from various parties in Parliament.
The City Press believes Ramaphosa had already held talks with his colleagues in the tripartite alliance and one of the things he was told is that Gupta-linked Malusi Gigaba and other ministers implicated in state capture corruption must be axed.
The publication is reporting that ‘the all-important budget speech’ was a source of disagreement as some prefer Gigaba be shown the door before the scheduled budget speech date of 22 February 2018, while others are advocating for a cautious approach and have pleaded that he be allowed to deliver government’s spending and expenditure report for the coming fiscal year.
“Some of us believe that the new finance minister must deliver the budget, because he will have to implement it. Others think that we have had a fast-paced few days and so Malusi (Gigaba) must be allowed to deliver the budget. In all fairness, it is not his budget. It was compiled by a team and part of that argument is that the new Cabinet will be a complete overhaul, so such a change should wait till after budget,” said unnamed NEC member.
It is believed that alliance partners believe Ramaphosa is amenable towards mending fences. What is clear however, is that ministers such as Nomvula Mokonyane of water and sanitation, social development head and controversial political boss Bathabile Dlamini, Mosebenzi Zwane – who drove a wedge between government and the mining industry and former “weekend special” finance minister and alleged Gupta foot-soldier Des van Rooyen must be shown the door.
Said to be likely to steer clear of a perceived “purge”, South African Communist Party (SACP) first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila reportedly urged Ramaphosa not to hesitate in axing “Gupta-linked” ministers.
“For us, the real issue is that the ministers who were involved in corporate capture of the state shouldn’t return to this Cabinet, otherwise they will contaminate it.”
“Those mentioned in the Gupta emails, which have proven the network of cooperation between senior government officials and state officials with corporate capturers of the state, it will be sad if they are returned. It is important that in this area there is clear decisiveness,” Mapaila said.
Cosatu’s second deputy president and failed deputy secretary, Zingiswa Losi is said to have warned that the alliance must be included in Ramaphosa’s decision making. The publication understands this was a veiled reference to Zuma’s late night reshuffles, that took place without consultation.
“While we appreciate that it is the prerogative of the president, we hope that he will do it in consultation with the governing party and with the alliance components,” Losi said.