Cabinet analysis: The same faces return but youngsters are named deputies

Cyril Ramaphosa leaves after the announcement of the new Cabinet in Pretoria. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
Cyril Ramaphosa leaves after the announcement of the new Cabinet in Pretoria. Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

President Cyril Ramaphosa has delivered on an undertaking to remove some of the more controversial ministers from his Cabinet, but he retained a majority of individuals from the previous Cabinet, even if he shuffled them around to different posts.

Previous minsters who did not make the cut include the longest serving Cabinet minister Jeff Radebe, the controversial Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane, former agriculture minster Senzeni Zokwana, Siyabonga Cele, Michael Masutha, NomaIndia Mfeketo, Suzan Shabangu, Dipuo Letsatsi Duba, Derek Hanekom, Rob Davies and Gugile Nkwinti.

But for the rest Ramaphosa kept a lot of ministers from previous cabinet.

Most of the new, younger faces he brought in, came in as deputy ministers. These include the likes of Zizi Kodwa, David Masondo, Alvin Botes, and Bavelile Hlongwa.

Their inclusion meant that, although the number of ministries has been reduced, the number of deputies remains large and bloated.

The young person entrusted with a massive responsibility is former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola, who has been appointed minister of justice and correctional services.

The young lawyer will be supported in this important portfolio by a veteran of the department in John Jeffries and Inkosi Phatekile Holomisa.

Ramaphosa also was bold in keeping public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan in his Cabinet despite a guilty finding by the Public Protector against him on Friday. Gordhan is appealing the finding.

Ekurhuleni mayor and Gauteng provincial executive committee member Mzwandile Masina immediately tweeted after the announcement that “the appointment of Pravin undermines the rule of law and makes the mockery of our democracy. This is really out of order. I hope the [national executive committee] looks into this matter with urgency.”

This is an indication that the future of Gordhan will likely remain an issue of deep division between those who believe that he is cleaning up corruption and those who are convinced that he enjoys special and favourable treatment that no one else does.

The biggest surprise of the Cabinet appointment remains that of Good leader Patricia de Lille, who does not bring much to the ANC government.

The former mayor Cape Town was appointed public works and infrastructure minister.

Ramaphosa probably needed to send signals about inclusivity, but he has also handed her a powerful position which has been beset by problems of corruption before.

De Lille has shaped herself as a corruption buster. But it is unclear how her appointment will boost her party.

However, the move will be a middle finger to the DA, which fought with her and essentially forced her out of the party last year.

Read: Patricia De Lille: DA is just a hollow lie

Although Ramaphosa did introduce some new faces, questions are being asked why the likes of Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula are still in Cabinet when she has, at best, been pedestrian over the years.

The appointment of former Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini will also raise eyebrows and is likely Ramaphosa reaching out to former supporters of Jacob Zuma.

Dlamini is deputy minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development.

Former state security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba will be wondering where she went wrong with the president.

She had become one of his key defenders and was entrusted with the responsibility of cleaning up the fraught intelligence sector. But she is now out of Cabinet.

Ramaphosa did not tinker much with the economic cluster, leaving Tito Mboweni as finance minister, but booted out his deputy Mondli Gungubele and replaced him with rising talent David Masondo.

Ebrahim Patel came back as minister of the combined portfolio of trade and industry and economic development.

So the real change was the removal of suspected looters.

But the young vanguard did not replace the old guard as expected. Ramaphosa preferred experience and continuity over experimenting with young talent.

But he has blooded them in as deputies, giving them hope that they are the ones for the future.

Rapule Tabane
Politics editor
City Press
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