Ralph Mathekga

Ramaphosa risks complicity if he doesn't fire Gigaba

2018-11-05 08:47
Malusi Gigaba.

Malusi Gigaba. (Photo: Gallo Images)

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If Ramaphosa fails to remove Gigaba speedily, he will be risking complicity in his wrongdoing. He will be knowingly harbouring a liar in Cabinet, writes Ralph Mathekga.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa accepted Nhlanhla Nene's resignation as finance minister last month, he raised the bar as to what conduct would be tolerable in his government. 

Nene left office due to mere allegations that he had had secret meetings with the Gupta family. There are those who argued that Nene did not have to resign because of the meeting with the Guptas. His departure from office therefore sent a strong message that those whose integrity have been blemished would not be part of Ramaphosa's "new dawn".

The message also went out to some ministers who should not have been retained after Ramaphosa's first Cabinet reshuffle earlier in the year. It became very clear with Nene's departure that the likes of Malusi Gigaba would soon have to be shown the door.

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Gigaba is fighting for his political life following the public protector's report that that he lied under oath and should be reprimanded for that. 

His home affairs have also not helped the situation, following the release of a sex video showing him in a compromised situation. 

One might be willing to forgive Gigaba for the sex video – no one is perfect. However, events have conspired to a point where Ramaphosa can no longer maintain him in Cabinet. Gigaba's situation is beyond salvaging; particularly the finding that he lied under oath regarding the Fireblade terminal operated by the Oppenheimer family.  

As it has become customary, Gigaba is arguing that all the noise surrounding him has been orchestrated by those who are plotting his political downfall. Well, this is a standard response by any embattled politician. Actually, all politicians should expect that there are those who might be planning for their downfall, hence they have to make efforts to stay out of trouble. 

Gigaba seems to have failed to stay out of trouble, making it easier for the alleged plotters to make a strong case against him. 

The main question that needs to be asked is whether Gigaba is in a position to further his work as Minister of Home Affairs. Whether or not Gigaba is guilty of lying – which he seemingly is – the fact is that, at this point, he will no longer be able to fully attend to matters relating to his portfolio. This means that he has become an even weaker link in Ramaphosa's cabinet. 

Having a minister declared Pinocchio by the court is something serious. This means that each and every decision made by him will most likely be ridiculed as the minister is declared a liar. For this reason, Ramaphosa has no choice but to push him out and relieve him of the responsibility as Minister of Home Affairs. 

The president's decision to retain Gigaba as part of the unity project earlier in the year was understandable. Gigaba is aware that unity is his meal ticket to continue as Cabinet minister; hence he is launching a fight-back campaign aimed at making it difficult for Ramaphosa to fire him. 

Unfortunately, Gigaba's sense of dignity has not compelled him to resign from office. He should understand however that Ramaphosa's hands are tied on this matter; the president cannot save him from the chop. He would be transgressing if he tries to avoid firing Gigaba.

At some point the president's failure to remove some people from Cabinet would amount to complicity in the wrongdoing. This is because when the court says someone has shown poor judgement as a Cabinet minister, they are actually leaving it to the president to finish the job and remove the compromised character. 

If Ramaphosa fails to remove Gigaba speedily, he will be risking complicity in his wrongdoing. He will be knowingly harbouring a liar in Cabinet. 

Once Gigaba has fallen, the next on the list of those whose careers cannot be salvaged would be Bathabile Dlamini. Ramaphosa will have to get used to the phrase, "we will have to let you go, minister, my hands are tied". 

- Ralph Mathekga is a senior researcher at the Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape. He is author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa's Turn.

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Read more on:    anc  |  malusi gigaba  |  cyril rama­phosa  |  cabinet


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