Adriaan Basson

Ramaphosa pleases, inspires and disappoints

2019-06-03 06:00
Pres. Cyri Ramaphosa maak sy nuwe kabinet bekend. Foto: Felix Dlangamandla

Pres. Cyri Ramaphosa maak sy nuwe kabinet bekend. Foto: Felix Dlangamandla

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It is clear that Ramaphosa tried to rid his executive of most of the Zuma-era ministers who were implicated in state capture, but some of his decisions are flabbergasting, writes Adriaan Basson.

I have mixed feelings about President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet. It is certainly not the A-team many had hoped for.

Besides the strategic appointment of Patricia de Lille as public works minister (which will keep her too busy to be an effective opposition MP), there were no real good surprises. I expected Ramaphosa to bring in at least one minister from outside of formal politics to shake things up in the economics or security clusters. Didn't happen.

It is an okay Cabinet, with some definite potential and some definite deadwood.

To be fair to the president, he was always going to be bound by the constitutional provision that he may only appoint two non-MPs to his Cabinet. He used one of these positions to save his trusted ally Ebrahim Patel, who didn't make the cut on the ANC's parliamentary list.

It is clear that Ramaphosa tried to rid his executive of most of the Zuma-era ministers who were implicated in state capture. Gone are Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini, who Ramaphosa didn't fire in his first reshuffle last year.

The return of David Mahlobo as deputy minister of human settlements and water affairs is flabbergasting. Ramaphosa even forgot to read out his name on Wednesday night.

Zuma's former state security minister is deeply implicated in a high-level report into our intelligence agency and Ramaphosa made a huge blunder to include him in his executive. Somebody (you can guess who) obviously lobbied very hard for Mahlobo's return, which shows Ramaphosa had to make some compromises in the end.

Speaking of compromises, it was reported on good authority that Ramaphosa wanted to cut as many as 40 members of the executive, but ended up only culling ten positions. No wonder the president referred to the "journey" of reorganising the government in his address to the nation.

Ramaphosa clearly lost the battle to make deep cuts and save the state millions of rand. That is the price you pay if you are the president of a "broad church" and owe numerous interest groups "rewards" for anointing you.

I have written previously about Ramaphosa's "pact with the devil" by reappointing David Mabuza as his deputy. The deputy president, as our investigative journalist Kyle Cowan outlined on Friday, is deeply implicated in a plethora of allegations of criminality.

Ramaphosa has made his bed and can only hope for a proper police investigation into Mabuza's past to determine the truth. The ANC's integrity commission certainly did not "clear" Mabuza of his past.

In my view, the president's best appointments to Cabinet were Thoko Didiza as minister of agriculture and land reform and Ronald Lamola as justice minister.

Didiza returns to her original portfolio to deal with one of the most sensitive issues of the next five years. Ramaphosa has given her a massive responsibility: deal with the land issue without damaging the economy and food security.

With her background in this department and ability to deal with conflict, she is perfectly equipped to handle this hot potato.

Lamola, a trained lawyer, is a breath of fresh air in the justice portfolio after an uninspiring decade under Jeff Radebe and Michael Masutha. With a strong, independent NPA head in Shamila Batohi, his main task is to ensure the NPA is fully funded and protected from political interference.

He will also have to deal with the continuing fallout over the Bosasa scandal in the correctional services and justice departments.

Pravin Gordhan (public enterprises), Tito Mboweni (finance), Angie Motshekga (basic education) and Bheki Cele (police) were good reappointments. Ramaphosa needs stability in these departments and clearly trusts these four veterans to do the job for him.

If Gordhan's review of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's finding against him fails, Ramaphosa will be in a quandary. Both Cele and Fikile Mbalula (transport) have negative findings against them by the office of the public protector but were included in Cabinet. 

I am concerned about the combination of Ayanda Dlodlo and Zizi Kodwa at the State Security Agency. Dlodlo is no stranger to controversy. She was previously charged with fraud, but the case was withdrawn; a construction company she was a director of was blacklisted, and she was referred to the Public Protector for an IT tender awarded when Johannesburg was still under ANC control.

Kodwa, her deputy, was recently accused of rape, but the charge against him was withdrawn. He is a close friend of Bosasa director and spokesperson Papa Leshabane, who was named at the Zondo commission as an accomplice in corruption.

Like Caesar's wife, our intelligence ministers must be above suspicion and I will be surprised if they finish their term.

Read more on:    anc  |  cyril ramaphosa  |  cabinet appointments
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