Ralph Mathekga

Ramaphosa's Cabinet: Who will stay and who will go?

2018-02-26 08:30
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his inaugural State of the Nation Address. (Photo: Ruvan Boshoff, AFP)

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his inaugural State of the Nation Address. (Photo: Ruvan Boshoff, AFP)

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As Cyril Ramaphosa's presidency takes shape, the next stop is the much anticipated Cabinet reshuffle which will give an indication as to how the new president is gaining grounds within his party. 

There is a great deal of anxiety about whether Ramaphosa will fire some of the compromised ministers who are implicated in state capture. The rescue mission that Ramaphosa has placed the ANC on seems to be working. The recently inaugurated president has been able to charm his way through his State of the Nation Address, which set up a nice relay towards the budget.

The budget was therefore not too bad; despite the announcement of a VAT hike which has angered a few usual suspects within the tripartite alliance and some opposition parties who are desperately looking for a battle to pick with Ramaphosa. 

Even more interesting about the budget is that it was well received by the market despite being delivered by embattled finance minister, Malusi Gigaba. South Africans seem to be willing to give Gigaba a second chance. But he remains a permanent liability for Ramaphosa. No amount of rehabilitation will assist Gigaba in regaining some credibility following allegations that he was an active facilitator of state capture. 

Speaking of ANC ministers who are desperately pleading to be readmitted to humanity after their compromised relationship with the Guptas, Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle will be a difficult balance in terms of what has to be repaired and what has to be written off as a loss. 

He has to be seen acting against wrongdoing and distancing himself from compromised ministers. At the same time, he needs to be conciliatory and throw a lifeline to those who are still showing a bit of life in them. 

For this reason, not all bad apples will be tossed, nor will all the great people who were dismissed by Zuma be called back to serve. Some compromised ministers will have to be removed from key portfolios and be parked in one of the non-significant departments. One such department that comes to mind is the one that specialises in giving awards each and every year. Take your guess!

When it comes to portfolios such as Treasury, mineral resources, energy and foreign affairs, Ramaphosa's appointments will have to send a strong message about the direction of his leadership. He may throw in a compromise in one of those key portfolios, but not in all of them. Hence, this Cabinet reshuffle ought to be a balancing act for Ramaphosa. 

Another lingering question relates to David Mabuza as an option for deputy president of the country. In some quarters, the idea of Mabuza as Mzanzi's el numero dos is just unpalatable. 

There are expectations that Ramaphosa will avoid this option. Some in this great nation will be hoping that Mabuza will be taking nap, and fail to answer Ramaphosa's phone call offering him the position. Then the president can leave a voicemail informing him that had he answered the phone he would have been made the deputy president. 

Ramaphosa can then quickly move and phone Lindiwe Sisulu to offer her the position. Sisulu will have to accept quickly before Mabuza wakes up and call back Ramaphosa to accept the position. 

Of course, it will not happen this way; there will be no napping for Mabuza until this Cabinet reshuffle is announced and he becomes the deputy president of the country. Then he can put his cellphone on flight mode and take all the afternoon naps he ever wanted to. For there will not be any important call for him to answer after becoming the deputy president. 

The moral of the story is that everyone wants in on this Cabinet, even those who should not be allowed anywhere near it given what they got up to in the past. Ramaphosa's job is to negotiate and strike a few compromises with his comrades, and then give us a Cabinet. 

The difficulty is that Ramaphosa might have to start by explaining his Cabinet choices, or lack of choice therein.  

Ralph Mathekga is a Fellow at the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy at the University of Johannesburg and author of When Zuma Goes

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  anc  |  cabinet reshuffle


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