Avatar photo

By Lunga Simelane


Possible reasons for Ramaphosa dragging out Cabinet reshuffle

Consult important, but appointments must be on merit, say analysts.

Facing mounting pressure and anger since the ANC elective conference in December, President Cyril Ramaphosa will finally make his new Cabinet known tonight at 7pm.

According to the Presidency’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, Ramaphosa’s new national executive would reinforce government’s focus, as stated in his State of the Nation Address (Sona), on actions to make a meaningful difference now and enable “real progress within the next year and lay a foundation for a sustained recovery into the future”.

As many had anticipated the Cabinet reshuffle before the Sona on 9 February, frustration has grown from politicians, businesses and the country at large. Expected to announce the reshuffle last week, Ramaphosa did not as the Presidency reported he was ill.

He then faced heavy criticism after photographs circulated showing he attended a cattle auction dinner at his Phala Phala farm this past Friday, while citizens waited for news on his much-delayed Cabinet reshuffle.

However, Magwenya said the accusations and misinformation seen around the matter were “completely unjustified”.

ALSO SEE: Cabinet reshuffle: Here’s when Ramaphosa will announce changes

“Throughout this week, the president has attended to his duties while treating a common cold,” he said.

As a result, there was no postponement or cancellation of the announcement, Magwenya said.

Political anlysts weigh in

Political analyst Ntsikelelo Breakfast said the important aspect to note in regards to the new expected national executive was people should be appointed on merit and not in relation to their political capital or their proximity to power.

Breakfast said this was essential so the job could actually be done.

“That is in theory, but in practice we know Cabinet positions have always been used to dish out favours and also to those who might have supported the incumbent in exchange for him to hold on to power a bit longer,” he said.

“It is patronage or neo-patrimonialism. And that arrangement does not lead to service delivery.

“You get ministers – I call the ‘favourites’ – do not perform the way they should have but are kept there.

Look at Minister of Energy Gwede Mantashe and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordan. “[They] are not performing but I can bet the president will re-appoint them because those people have been central to his ascendance to power on two occasions.”

ALSO SEE: Gordhan isn’t aware of crime cartels, but says there’s corrupt elements in and outside Eskom

Why Ramaphosa dragged his feet

In terms of the delays, Breakfast said Ramaphosa dragged his feet because he was caught between a rock and a hard place.

“There were those ministers who never abided by the order to vote against the Phala Phala report and voted for it, such as Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. He will not let go of them. He can but it won’t be easy,” Breakfast said.

“He probably thought the ministers who carried the order would resign themselves but they have been having none of it.”

Political analyst Dr John Molepo said Ramaphosa’s delays were caused by his ongoing consultations and any measure or appointments Ramaphosa made involved various factors.

Molepo said it was important for him to consult, considering how the ANC has been perceived outside the organisation.

“The balance of forces in the ANC factions, performance of particular ministers and the future of the ANC relies on him consulting,” he said.

“Let’s hope the changes he makes will definitely assist the party and the country.”

Reactions to Cabinet reshuffle

Reacting to the news of Ramaphosa’s anticipated Cabinet reshuffle, Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Leigh-Ann Mathys said the party’s national shut-down on 20 March would demand Ramaphosa step down.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance revealed that Ramaphosa spent R2 billion on 624 jobs for cadres – more than former president Jacob Zuma ever did.

Democratic Alliance Minister for Public Service and Administration Dr Leon Schreiber said over the past six months in terms of the Ministerial Handbook, Ramaphosa had enabled ANC ministers and deputy ministers to employ 624 personal staff members at a cost to taxpayers of at least R1 935 705 005 since he became president in February 2018.

“Another worrying element is that it has enabled even more spending on personnel than was the case under Zuma’s administration.

“While Zuma had more ministers in his Cabinet than Ramaphosa (34 compared to 27), Ramaphosa allows both ministers and deputy ministers more staff than Zuma did,” he said.

– lungas@citizen.co.za

NOW READ: We can’t allow the ‘image of the ANC to be battered’, says Mbalula on De Ruyter’s claims