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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Cabinet reshuffle: President has tough task ahead

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the careers of several senior ministers who were excluded from the newly elected ANC NEC at Nasrec.

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to get tough when he assesses his Cabinet as he contemplates a reshuffle- and he needs to trim the dead wood, experts say.

But reconfiguring Cabinet won’t be easy, because the president has to accommodate various interests within and outside the ruling ANC to ensure unity.

A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the careers of several senior ministers who were excluded from the newly elected ANC national executive committee (NEC) at Nasrec.

But, according to political analyst prof Dirk Kotze, there is no provision in the country’s constitution or the ANC constitution for the president to limit himself to NEC members when appointing Cabinet members.

“Those ministers who were left out of the NEC can be in the Cabinet although they are not in the NEC. It is not a fact that they have to be in the NEC,” Kotze said.

Minister Naledi Pandor likely to stay

He cited the case of International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor, saying she could be kept due to her experience and how she had revived the department.

Her handling of international relations was impressive and even America respected South Africa’s non-aligned stance, as it could plan around it, he said.

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Kotze’s view was that Mashatile’s appointment was more about form, than substance, because he “does not have powers, he becomes acting president in the absence of the president”.

Among his duties were to chair the National Aids Council and head government’s business in parliament and “such a person was very much powerless”.

“He can be there but he won’t be in competition with Ramaphosa because a deputy is unable to compete with the president,” Kotze said.

The president determined the direction the government must take and the Cabinet, including the deputy president, served at his mercy.

A cabinet lekgotla

On Friday, a Cabinet lekgotla concluded a review of government’s performance against targets and objectives set in 2022 and deliberated its programme of action for 2023.

With some senior Cabinet members not re-elected into the NEC, a new programme of action should include a re-structured Cabinet.

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Ministers to be appointed should enter into agreements with the president on key actions to advance the country’s economic recovery and long-term development.

With the energy crisis top-ping the lekgotla agenda, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe should be given a mandate to fix Eskom.

The ANC was facing a crucial election in 2024 and anything short of a resolution of the electricity crisis would not bode well.

Ramaphosa was expected to announce his Cabinet reshuffle before or soon after the State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

The lekgotla resolutions will form the basis of the address, which would be debated in parliament on 14 and 15 February with Ramaphosa’s reply on 16 February.

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