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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


Was Ramaphosa ‘reckless’ in delaying his cabinet reshuffle as Mbalula alluded to?

Mbalula said President Cyril Ramaphosa should have been 'applying his mind about his cabinet' after the ANC National Conference.


Was President Cyril Ramaphosa reckless in delaying the announcement of his cabinet reshuffle after the African National Congress’ (ANC) elective congress in December?

On 21 December 2022, newly elected Secretary-General, Fikile Mbalula said Ramaphosa needed to announce a new cabinet; and if he didn’t do so by the end of the year, it would be “reckless.”

“The president should be applying his mind about his cabinet and the secretary general will have a discussion with him. But it’s his prerogative, he’s got to think about the cabinet, if he’s not thinking about it, that will be reckless of him not to that.”

“He is and should be thinking about it and how to strengthen the executive because from our side I want a cabinet that is breathing life into society and running,” Mbalula said.

“That is non-negotiable, so I think he should be doing that and he’s got the whole December to think if he’s not thinking about it, somewhere on the beach, fishing and so on thinking about what is going to happen.”

Fikile Mbalula backtracks

Then two months later on 21 February 2023, Mbalula changed his tune and shifted the goal posts saying Ramaphosa must make the changes by the end of February.

“I said ideally by February all these issues must have been dealt with. We came from the lekgotla, we are going to a cabinet lekgotla, we are going to the state of the nation next week.”

“So, if we want a reshuffle and all of that, ideally by February all of those issues must have happened so that there is stability and then we push forward just like that,” Mbalula said.

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Cabinet reshuffle imminent

Since Mbalula’s comments at the time, Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle had still not happened.

However, Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya held a media briefing on Sunday, saying Ramaphosa will address the nation at 7pm on Monday evening.

This will be to announce the changes to his cabinet.

Ramaphosa not reckless

Speaking to The Citizen, political analyst and Nort West University Professor Andre Duvenhage said Ramaphosa was not being reckless when he delayed his cabinet reshuffle.

“I won’t argue recklessness as the main dominant motivation of explanation for the phenomenon. The president is not well-known for taking swift decisive decisions. He’s always busy with what people call the long game.”

“At the moment, he did perform well during the national conference. But this is due a number of factors and agreements within the conference coming from the broad number of people supporting him and this needs consultations and he needs to consult all these constituencies, he needs to make place for them and some people just say Mr Ramaphosa has too much on his plate.

“The president is in a very tight position and it’s definitely not recklessness. There are a lot of other considerations. You can even go with the element of incompetence, but I won’t call it reckless, Duvenhage said.

ANC to call shots

Last week, political analyst and the director of programmes at the Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (ASRI), Ebrahim Fakir, told The Citizen Ramaphosa was in a very “invidious position” where he has very little room to manoeuvre, hence the delay in the cabinet reshuffle.

“The ANC is going to pull rank, decide on strategic direction. And not to say that any president shouldn’t take their cue from the party, they should. But this is the same party that allowed state capture and corruption for nine years,” Fakir said.

Fakir said it would not make much of a difference who Ramaphosa appointed to his Cabinet.

“Unfortunately, it seems to me that as the country, irrespective of what appointments he makes, we’re going to continue lurking from issue to issue from thing to thing in the same haphazard, uncoordinated way that we have until now, so we will continue limping along,” Fakir said.

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