News | South Africa | Government
It’s three years since former trade unionist and businessman Cyril Ramaphosa assumed power.
His rise to the highest office in the country came amid a deep fissure in the governing ANC, which was deeply divided.
Senior members from both camps were tearing one another apart in a power contest. He was given the difficult task to unite the two sides.
It was a mere two months later, on 26 February, that Ramaphosa was called upon to replace a reluctant Jacob Zuma, who was recalled a little over a year before the end of his final presidential term.
The ANC made him swallow the bitter taste of the medicine Zuma gave to his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki, who was pushed out six months prior to automatically vacating the Union Buildings.
Ramaphosa caused an outcry when he retained the bulk of Zuma’s unpopular Cabinet members.
South Africans were unhappy to see the likes of Bathabile Dlamini, Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane remaining.
But they took solace in the fact that he immediately got rid of Zuma’s mineral resources minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, and public enterprises minister Lynne Brown, as well as Des van Rooyen (minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs), Faith Muthambi (minister of public service and administration), David Mahlobo (minister of energy) and Bongani Bongo (state security minister).
He reinstated victims of Zuma’s political machinations, such as Blade Nzimande and Derek Hanekom and introduced
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who returned earlier from a posting as chair of the African Union (AU) Commission, and Zweli Mkhize, formerly KwaZulu-Natal premier.
He briefly returned Nhlanhla Nene from retirement as minister of finance.
With a Cabinet reinforced with Zuma’s rivals, he was ready to take a stand. He needed the likes of Hanekom and Mbalula, daring duellists who often challenged opponents to a public fight.
Mbalula is an opponent of ANC secretary-general and Zuma supporter Ace Magashule.
Ramaphosa’s axe continued to swing when he assumed his own term post the May, 2019 election when he chopped off the remaining Zuma ministers and premiers.
But his retention of Mahlobo as deputy minister for human settlements, water and sanitation came as shock.
Pravin Gordhan was appointed into the public enterprises portfolio, a move that was welcomed by some but opposed by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.
Gordhan’s task was clear: clean up and reshape the state-owned enterprises to return them to their former glory, a
difficult task, indeed.
Zuma – aligned premiers were removed, but some were allowed to stay through political deals.
He has accommodated Dlamini-Zuma and Lindiwe Sisulu, who both contested the ANC leadership at Nasrec.
Other positives included appointing a new head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Shamila Batohi as well as the heads of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).
He recently reinforced the NPA with new, high-profile appointments, a move seen as levelling the playing field to prepare for prosecutions emanating from the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired by Deputy Chief
Justice Raymond Zondo.
He had been criticised for lack of action against corruption.
ANC politicians have yet to be charged for graft for the Bosasa scandal and most recently from the shenanigans exposed by the Mufamadi high-level panel investigation into unlawful activities of the state intelligence community.
His task to raise the country’s economy performance has been hindered by the coronavirus, with a massive number of deaths and increased infections, exacerbated by a new strain.
Unemployment has increased, with ongoing job losses, and corruption surrounding personal protective equipment (PPE) has run amok.
He certainly has a long way to go to prove himself as a great leader.
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