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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist


Cabinet reshuffle: Cosatu cautions against recycling of incompetent ministers

'It is time for ministers to retire, especially very long-serving members – some going back to the Mandela administration.'


As ANC alliance partner the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) yesterday cautioned against “a recycling” of incompetent ministers ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s much-awaited Cabinet reshuffle, political analysts have called for an overhaul of the executive to allow poor performers to make way for new blood.

Ramaphosa reduced the size of his executive from 36 to 28, but it remained bloated compared to the US, where 15 Cabinet ministers serve a population almost six times larger than South Africa.

New team must deliver

According to Cosatu national spokesperson Sizwe Pamla, the federation would not interfere with Ramaphosa’s constitutional prerogative “to choose his team and consult us about it”.

“While we don’t want to focus on names and personalities, we don’t expect him to appoint people facing allegations of corruption. We also don’t expect him to recycle the same people who have failed to fix existing problems.

“He needs to appoint a team that will hit the ground running and deliver results in the next 15 months,” said Pamla.

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Citing inefficiencies and maintaining the country deserved a much leaner Cabinet, experts said poor performers included ministers Pravin Gordhan (public enterprises), Gwede Mantashe (mineral resources and energy), Lindiwe Sisulu (tourism), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (cooperative governance and traditional affairs), Enoch Godongwana (finance), Ebrahim Patel (trade, industry and competition) and Thulas Nxesi (employment and labour).

Cabinet reshuffle needed

University of Johannesburg associate professor of political science Dr David Monyae said a Cabinet reshuffle was “critically needed”.

“Factors for a reshuffle have to do with the 55th national conference outcome and agenda – pointing to the surmountable service delivery challenges the party confronts as it faces elections.

“There are ministers who have not delivered or no longer align with the president’s political agenda; some having to go on retirement.”

Contrary to a widely held view that ANC members not on the NEC would no longer be able to serve in Cabinet, political analyst Dr Melanie Verwoerd said: “There is a false narrative that you have to be moved out of Cabinet because you are not on the ANC NEC – nothing to that effect.

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“If the president wants someone to serve in Cabinet, but not on the NEC, such a member can be co-opted into the NEC – something general-secretary Fikile Mbalula has clearly explained.

“It is about someone who can do a good job in line with key priorities – not about serving on the NEC.

“Those like Dlamini-Zuma and Sisulu, who have directly opposed the president and made sure they don’t support his vision, should expect the chop.”

Verwoerd believed Ramaphosa should “create a climate change portfolio in line with most countries in the developed and developing world because it is such a key issue”.

“He should create a portfolio combining climate change and energy,” she said. “Given the fast development of renewables, there should be a separation between minerals and energy, because that sends a wrong message.

“Public enterprises should be absorbed into the line function of various departments.”

She said Deputy President David Mabuza was unlikely to soon make way for Paul Mashatile.

“At this stage, Mashatile is not a member of the National Assembly – a requirement to occupy the position.”

The [Electoral Commission of SA] party list cannot be opened before May, meaning Mashatile will not become an MP before then.

ALSO READ: ANC may be heading toward a necessary purge

“In the case of Mbalula, if he leaves government for Luthuli House, there will be a vacancy in the transport department,” said Verwoerd.

Majority of ministers should go

University of Pretoria politics lecturer Roland Henwood said: “The majority of ministers should go. Poor performance in government is to a large extent due to poor leadership and lack of expertise.

“One or two changes are not going to bring the required results to get SA out of the decline.

“It is time for ministers to retire, especially very long-serving members – some going back to the Mandela administration.”

– brians@citizen.co.za