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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist


Cabinet reshuffle shows Ramaphosa still puts ANC politics before needs of SA

Dumping just a few of his 'hopeless and irredeemable' ministers while sparing the rest, shows factionalism still rules.


President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s changes to his Cabinet this week once again had less to do with prioritising the state and the needs of South Africans than with ensuring his own political survival, by elevating those in the ANC who ensured his re-election at last year’s elective conference.

As pressure again mounts for him to answer on the Phala Phala farm scandal, Ramaphosa has, through the Cabinet reshuffle, ensured his political allies are there to help him, said University of Free State’s Politics and Governance expert, Dr Ina Gouws.

The president on Monday fired Lindiwe Sisulu, Nathi Mthethwa and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane from the Cabinet, along with deputy ministers Sidumo Dlamini and Phumullo Masualle.

Ramaphosa, ANC ‘lacking’

Ramaphosa’s staunch allies, however, remain untouched despite having rather undesirable track records.

His supporters in the ANC NEC and in government include Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan – who is in charge of the ailing and costly state-owned enterprises.

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Gouws said the latest move was influenced by ANC factionalism after the elective conference in December.

“My overall perspective is that the state and governing party are lacking. It doesn’t matter if you put a few new faces, the state is run by a political party that doesn’t have the capacity to renew itself again.

“It’s a Cabinet from the political party that still has the same factional issues, which will paralyse them as it has happened before. This is a Cabinet that I know people really want to believe will be capable, but there is nothing to heap praise on.”

Regarding Mthethwa and Sisulu’s sacking, Gouws said they were “hopeless and could not be redeemed”.

“But then there are some that he kept in their positions such as [Police Minister] Cele, Mantashe and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, mainly for political reasons and not for the good of the country.

“They are good for him politically. For as long as political decisions are made along those lines, there is no hope for fixing the state. It is a shuffle that was expected for political reasons, people wanted him to be seen leading after the Nasrec conference,” she said.

‘Not much about intelligence services’

While many expected a newly recapacitated State Security Agency (SSA) following years of destruction as a result of state capture corruption, Ramaphosa failed to put in place a fully-fledged ministry.

Mondli Gungubele, who was minister in the presidency, was previously also given the responsibility of rebuilding the country’s intelligence service, with Zizi Kodwa as the deputy minister.

Kodwa has now been moved to the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, while Gungubele heads to the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.

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The now former communications minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni is now in charge of another new portfolio in the Presidency – responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, intelligence and to “focus on greater attention on the performance of government”, Ramaphosa said.

Gouws said the worrying recent greylisting by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) requires good intelligence services to counter money laundering and corrupt activities.

“We are greylisted, not because of anything else but because we cannot deal with corruption. For that, you need intelligence. You need people who understand that world and can work closely with other law enforcement and the judicial system.

“If this important function is neglected, his words on rebuilding security services ring hollow.”

She remarked that South Africa was on the edge of crises on many fronts, and a bloated Cabinet was the last thing the country needs.

“Another sector that’s in crisis is basic education. Angie Motshekga has been there for years and remains there.

“You cannot make your Cabinet bigger to make it seem like you are doing your job, the country no longer buys that. We face a crisis that we won’t be able to return from quickly if we keep doing things the same way over again.”

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