NATIONAL NEWS - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of a leaner and meaner cabinet has already been hailed as a great move that marks him as man determined to cut the fat and deal with corruption in government.
However, political analyst Andre Duvenhage, said Good leader Patricia de Lille’s decision to join government and serve as minister of public works and infrastructure was potentially a bad one for her due to her branding of herself as an opponent of corruption and a person coming from a pan-Africanist tradition.
De Lille is now the only opposition member to serve in the cabinet and is famous as a critic of ANC rule, especially under Jacob Zuma.
Duvenhage said Deputy President David Mabuza was back mainly due to power politics at play within the ANC.
“I believe it was all about power politics. He survived not because of his moral high ground but as a strategy and a reward because of his support for Ramaphosa,” Duvenhage said.
The analyst lambasted the reappointment of Blade Nzimande to the newly combined ministry of higher education, science and technology, saying he did not deserve it because he had caused a lot of conflict at tertiary institutions.
He said Nzimande had not only failed to resolve a lot of the crises at universities, but had instead worsened them.
The analyst described the appointment of Naledi Pandor to international relations and co-operation and the shifting of Lindiwe Sisulu to human settlements as an “interesting” development. This was especially so after Sisulu made a “big mess” by downgrading the SA embassy in Israel.
“In all the strategic positions, such as the security cluster, Ramaphosa ensured they are dominated by women, and that is very important. There is a broad spread of women and young people, and he had accommodated both Cosatu and the SACP well. In all for that that Cabinet, I can give Ramaphosa a seven out of 10 for it,” he said.
Ramaphosa had achieved his objective to return Mabuza, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and his ex-mineral resources counterpart Gwede Mantashe to their previous portfolios, with Mantashe now also handling energy.
The president attributed his reconfigured national government to his objective to trim the structure and size of the state so as to “meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources.” He had cut the executive council from 36 to 28 members.
With Gordhan and Mantashe, the president seemed to have jumped the biggest hurdle surrounding his two foot-soldiers. Their reappointments ended doubts about whether the duo could make it due to corruption allegations surrounding them.
Gordhan was fingered by the public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, for allegedly unlawfully approving early retirement for former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay while Mantashe was mentioned among top ANC leaders who allegedly benefited from bribes from facilities-management company Bosasa.
Bosasa allegedly installed security cameras at Mantashe’s houses in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, but he has vehemently denied this.
Both Mantashe and Gordhan are strongmen in Ramaphosa’s front line against opponents within the party, and analysts had said he could not afford to lose both of them.
More than half of the new executive comprised of Ramaphosa’s allies, including Mantashe, Gordhan, Mondli Gungubele, Blade Nzimande, Bheki Cele, Cassel Mathale, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Senzo Mchunu, Aaron Motsoaledi, Naledi Pandor, Jackson Mthembu, Fikile Mbalula, Ronald Lamola and Zizi Kodwa. None of the remaining members can genuinely be counted as hard-core Zuma supporters.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the new minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, deputised by Parks Tau and Obed Bapela.
Among the new appointments are Barbara Creecy for environment, forestry and fisheries, Thoko Didiza for agriculture, land reform and rural development and Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo. Duvenhage said farmers would be happy to welcome back Didiza, whom they liked when she had occupied that position under Thabo Mbeki.
Tito Mboweni has remained in finance.
Aaron Motsoaledi was shifted to home affairs and his former health portfolio was offered to Zweli Mkhize, who previously headed Cogta, while Angie Motshekga stayed in basic education.
The former ANC Youth League deputy president, Ronald Lamola, is the new minister of justice and correctional services, while Bheki Cele remained as police minister. Former ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu and former land affairs minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane were appointed as ministers in the presidency.
A further interesting appointment is the new minister of public service and administration, Senzo Mchunu. Mchunu was defeated by Ace Magashule for the post of ANC secretary-general after being marginalised by Zuma supporters in the KwaZulu-Natal ANC.