Ramaphosa defends new cabinet

2018-02-28 14:54

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WATCH: Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet ministers sworn in

2018-02-27 16:47

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation late on Monday night to announce changes to the National Executive. New MPs were sworn in behind closed doors at noon on Tuesday, while new Cabinet ministers will be sworn into office at 16h30. Watch.WATCH

As controversy rumbles over some appointments, President Cyril Ramaphosa has quickly pointed out that the cabinet he assembled this week is not permanent.

“No, no, this is a transitional cabinet. It is the cabinet that will take us to the next elections,” he explained yesterday.

Ramaphosa, speaking at Parliament, was responding to criticism of his decision to retain cabinet ministers such as former Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini, who was shifted to the ministry for women in the Presidency.

Many had expected Ramaphosa to give Dlamini the chop following her poor handling of the social grant payment tender during her tenure as Social Development minister.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) described Dlamini’s remaining in cabinet as a blow to attempts to instil a culture of good governance in government.

“Bathabile Dlamini has essentially been rewarded with a promotion into the Presidency regardless of the fact that she nearly collapsed the social grants system for the poor.

“Nevertheless, we welcome changes in Finance; the appointment of Nhlanhla Nene is a reaffirmation of confidence in black and African leadership,” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyi­seni Ndlozi.

Parliamentary watchdog on public accounts, Scopa, said while the committee welcomed some of the appointments, it was disappointed with the retention of former Water and Sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who was shifted to the Communications portfolio.

Committee chairperson Themba Godi said financial irregularities at the Water and Sanitation Department under Mokonyane’s watch made her appointment as a Communication minister a worrying development.

“It is worrying that she is now a minister of Communications at a time when the South African Broadcasting Corporation is recovering,” he said.

Ramaphosa was, however, also hailed for appointing people such as former ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize, who is now the new Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister. The appointment of ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe, a former general-secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as the Mineral Resources minister, was also hailed as a positive development.

The Chamber of Mines said Mantashe’s understanding of the mining sector was a critical asset that could play a major role in turning the sector around. “He [Mantashe] is a person with whom our industry has long held a constructive and respectful relationship,” the chamber said.

“He is an extremely tough negotiator, demonstrated both during his time as general secretary of the NUM and in his subsequent political positions. We look forward to the many engagements with him that doubtless lie ahead,” the chamber added.

The Banking Association of SA (Basa) said the reappointment of Nene, who was removed by former president Jacob Zuma, would send a strong message that Treasury was now in capable hands.

“Ethical leadership at National Treasury is the most critical anchor point in our plans to grow our economy and to meaningfully drive an environment that legitimately promotes growth, creates jobs and lifts South Africans out of poverty. Treasury must be entrusted to a leader who is untainted by the devastation of corruption and state capture,” said Basa managing director Cas Coovadia.

Ramaphosa, who was sworn in as the country’s president two weeks ago, has spent the past days consolidating his power within the ANC.

Political analysts said that while the main objective of Ramaphosa’s reshuffle was to strengthen cabinet, the newly elected president also had to keep Zuma’s allies happy.

In the reshuffle, Ramaphosa appointed leadership rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as minister in the Presidency responsible for planning and evaluation.

The president said yesterday he was confident the new cabinet would take the country forward.

“It’s a cabinet that takes into account the strength we’ve got in government, and we’ve got some really good people and I’d like people to give them a chance ... to give them an opportunity. We’ve got a very strong team and I’m hoping, knowing and believing that they will take us forward.

“So South Africa is moving forward with this cabinet,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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