Avatar photo

By Eric Naki

Political Editor


Time for Cyril to dish out some tough love in Cabinet

President Cyril Ramaphosa has to make a choice between saving the ANC or South Africa.


President Cyril Ramaphosa is faced with a dilemma: does he enforce “tough love” and fire underperforming ministers and disappoint party loyalists in his upcoming Cabinet reshuffle by replacing them with competent people?

SA or ANC?

Political economy expert Daniel Silke believes Ramaphosa must choose the country over the party this time.

That would entail getting rid of dead wood in the executive and meant Ramaphosa would have to consider bringing in skills from outside the party.

“He should not fill the Cabinet only with party loyalists but should also include non-loyalists in his restructured new executive council if he is to put South Africa back on the track of economic growth and service delivery,” Silke said.

“The question is whether there is enough talent within the broader ANC pool to import into the Cabinet, especially with the kind of crisis of so many departments.

“You can think of a number of ministers who have not performed or have underperformed, and that’s a crisis,” he said.

ALSO READ: Cabinet reshuffle: Ramaphosa might ‘sacrifice’ good ministers for political survival

“I think the real dilemma is finding the necessary talent within the ANC to promote into these responsibilities or very difficult positions. The president has to make a choice and the choice really is between saving the ANC or saving South Africa,” said Silke.

“If some of his appointments anger some of his ANC colleagues, that’s a choice he has to make for better outcomes and results.”

But Ramaphosa would only succeed if the bureaucracy and the broader party actually supported the decisions he made.

The choice of the Cabinet gained momentum as the country arguably moved faster in becoming a failing state.

“These are the pressures,” Silke said, like Ramaphosa needing to strike a balance between the demands and expectations of sub-groups and interest groups and those of ANC alliance partners.

Limitations for Cyril

According to Professor Dirk Kotze from the University of South Africa, Ramaphosa would have some limitations, one being that he could not appoint a person who was not an MP.

Neither ANC Deputy President Paul Mashatile, nor former Gauteng premier David Makhura, who were both tipped to be appointed as Cabinet ministers, were MPs.

This meant spaces had to be opened in parliament before they could be brought in.

RELATED: Cabinet reshuffle: Cosatu cautions against recycling of incompetent ministers

Ramaphosa was also aware that current South African Deputy President David Mabuza and Mashatile were not strong loyalists, but, Kotze said, it would still be difficult to ignore Mashatile.

Another limitation was that none of the current chairs of parliamentary portfolio committees, from whom ministers and deputy minister were recruited, stood out.

Although ministers had to have skills in their fields, especially management and leadership, “there is no oversupply of skilled people among ANC MPs that could fill the skills gap in the Cabinet”.

Retaining certain ministers?

Kotze said if Ramaphosa reappointed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and her tourism counterpart Lindiwe Sisulu, it would mean he was not serious about having a strong Cabinet.

There was also no reason to keep Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel as it was felt he had not done enough in his job.

READ MORE: Cabinet reshuffle: Ministers’ performance reviews just window dressing?

“Although he has done nothing wrong, there is a general feeling he needs to be removed for not being visible,” he said.

Ministers were appointed into the Cabinet even if they were not on the ANC NEC, so retaining certain performing ministers, wouldn’t be an issue.

It was important Ramaphosa kept Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, who had revived and strengthened her department and built a legacy as tough minister and reliable diplomat.

– ericn@citizen.co.za