By Ntombi Mhlongo
South Africa’s Cabinet was reshuffled on Monday night with President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing a host of new appointments.
The two most anticipated appointments were of the Deputy President following David Mabuza’s resignation and the new minister of electricity. Ramaphosa announced Paul Mashatile as his deputy and Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa as the minister of electricity.
The axe fell on a few ministers who were regarded as thorns on Ramaphosa’s side such as Lindiwe Sisulu who had announced would contest the ANC’s presidency at the December elective conference.
Another victim of challenging Ramaphosa’s authority and voting with her conscience during Parliament’s Section 189 probe into the robbery at his Phala Phala farm was Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
She was removed from her position as the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) and shipped to the position of Minister in the Presidency for Women, Children and People With Disabilities.
Nathi Mthethwa was given the boot as the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture and replaced by Zizi Kodwa while Sindisiwe Chikunga would take over from Fikile Mbalula as Minister of Transport. Mbalula was elected as the ANC’s Secretary General during the elective conference, a position that is regarded as a full-time job in the party.
Before making the announcement, Ramaphosa explained that the purpose of the changes was to ensure that the government is properly capacitated and directed to give effect to the commitments made in the State of the Nation Address and the Budget Speech.
“We have said that the people of South Africa want action, they want solutions and they want the government to work for them. All members of the Executive have been directed to focus on those agreed actions that will make a meaningful difference now and will enable real progress within the next year”.
He said he hoped the moves would lay a foundation for a sustained recovery into the future.
“All parts of government are focused on addressing those issues that concern South Africans the most: load shedding, unemployment, poverty and the rising cost of living, and crime and corruption,” the President said.
He said understanding that just over one year remains in the term of this 6th administration, these changes are not about overhauling the National Executive.
Instead, he said the changes are intended to fill vacancies that have occurred in the Executive and to direct government more effectively towards the areas that require urgent and decisive action.
Regarding the Minister of Electricity, the President said his primary task will be to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding as a matter of urgency.
“To effectively oversee the electricity crisis response, the appointed Minister will have political responsibility, authority and control over all critical aspects of the Energy Action Plan. This will help to deal with the challenge of fragmentation of responsibility across various departments and ministers which, while appropriate under normal circumstances, is not conducive to crisis response,” said Ramaphosa.
While South Africans were calling for the removal of certain ministers, they managed to dodge the bullet. The ministers that survived the axe include Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Read More: Ramaphosa rejects David Mabuza’s resignation
The two have been under severe scrutiny over the past few months. Gordhan on his side has been blamed for the collapse of the country’s State-Owned Enterprises which include the dysfunctional Eskom.
He faced further outrage when it emerged he sold the country’s carrier, SAA to a consortium for E51. Cele on the other hand has been struggling to arrest the increasing crime rate in the country.
The quarterly stats have painted a country run by criminals. Cases such as murder, rape and hijacking have been on the increase under his watch. Many South Africans believe he is failing in his portfolio.
The full list of new ministers and deputies: