South Africa

THE CABINET (Visual Profiles)

Cyril Ramaphosa and the harbingers of the ‘New Dawn’

President-elect Cyril Ramaphosa raises his hand to the oath during his inauguration ceremony at Loftus Versveld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, 25 May 2019. South African lawmakers elected Cyril Ramaphosa as president following the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party's win earlier this month in the country's general elections. EPA-EFE/YESHIEL PANCHIA / POOL

Meet the Cabinet members tasked with turning South Africa around.

President Cyril Ramaphosa , parliament 9 October 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan



After serving as deputy president from 2014-2018, Ramaphosa took over the presidency when Jacob Zuma resigned. He acted as the ANC’s chief negotiator during the transition to democracy, and was elected leader of a very divided ANC in 2017. He is one of the wealthiest people in South Africa, having made billions investing in companies like McDonald’s and MTN. During his Cabinet announcement, Ramaphosa emphasised the need for a “New Dawn” following years of looting, corruption and state capture.

DoB: 17 November 1952

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Deputy President David Mabuza delivers the keynote address at the official launch the TB Prevention Campaign with Amakhosi and TB Ambassadors at JL Dube Stadium in Inanda, eThekwini Municipality. The campaign seeks to mobilize Amakhosi and TB Ambassadors to join the national effort of rapidly Finding the Missing TB Patients and urgently link them to treatment and care. South Africa has committed to trace and find at least 80 000 Missing TB patients by December 2020 as part of its national efforts. 16/03/2019 Kopano Tlape GCIS


Deputy President

DD “The Cat” Mabuza has been accused of political murders, fraud and corruption, to name but a few allegations — all of which he has denied. A 2018 exposé by the New York Times said Mabuza’s appointment undercuts Ramaphosa’s New Dawn promises. But he has never been formally charged, and despite an alleged attempted poisoning in 2014 (for which he still allegedly receives treatment in Russia), Mabuza’s political career continues. He was kingmaker at Nasrec in 2017, initially supporting Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma but switching to the CR17 camp at the last moment and swinging the vote in favour of Ramaphosa.

DoB: 25 August 1960

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Tshwane mayoral candidate Thoko Didiza talks during an interview on July 08, 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Deon Raath
Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga. Photo: Basic education

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

Didiza takes over one of the newly merged portfolios, returning to the position she held during the Mbeki era, albeit with more responsibilities. In 2016 she was parachuted in as Tshwane’s mayoral ANC candidate at the last second, an announcement that resulted in large-scale violence and five deaths. Early in 2019 she chaired the ad hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution in regards to land expropriation without compensation.

DoB: 2 June 1965

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Basic Education

Motshekga returns to her role as Basic Education Minister for the third time. She has bumped heads with education lobby groups and NGOs in the past, and Motshekga and her department were taken to court over issues relating to school sanitation and failure to implement norms and standards for the provision of school infrastructure. A 2018 audit found that 3,898 schools still use pit latrines.

DoB: 2 October 1955

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Deputy Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams during the launch of sanitary towels campaign in Fetakgomo, Limpopo. South Africa
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Photo: Leila Dougan


Originally Deputy Minister of Communications, Ndabeni-Abrahams was promoted to Communications Minister during Ramaphosa’s original Cabinet reshuffle in 2018. Last year she came under fire after butting heads with the SABC board when she tried to direct the public broadcaster. Ndabeni-Abrahams was forced to apologise after being taken to task on Twitter when she prevented an SABC journalist from filming alternative views at an ANC rally in the Eastern Cape in 2019.

DoB: 30 June 1977

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Dlamini Zuma, often referred to as NDZ, ran for president of the ANC in 2017, but was beaten by Ramaphosa after Mabuza moved to the CR17 campaign. NDZ has held many posts in the government, serving in the Cabinet of every SA president since 1994. She was the chair of the African Union Commission for five years. Now, she will have to deal with municipalities that owe parastatals such as Eskom tens of billions of rand.

DoB: 27 January 1949

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Minister of Defence and Military Veterans; Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula reports to the relating Government's decision to procure transportation for the country's VVIP's  at a media briefing held in Pretoria on the 06/07/2012.
Gauteng Finance MEC Barbara Creecy testifies at the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearings on January 30, 2018 in Johannesburg. Creecy discredited the provincial Health Department’s assertions that it terminated its contract with the Life Esidimeni group, saying there was absolutely no pressure to cut down on essential services. Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele

Defence and Military Veterans

Mapisa-Nqakula will be serving her third consecutive term. Former Bosasa COO Angelo Agrizzi told the Zondo Commission that Mapisa-Nqakula’s twin brother held shares in the company on her behalf, but the minister has denied she was on Bosasa’s payroll. In 2016 she also faced controversy after she was unable to deny she had smuggled a friend into the country illegally, using an official government aircraft.

DoB: 13 November 1956

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Environment, Forestry And Fisheries

Creecy was one of the longest-serving members of a provincial legislature, having been elected to the Gauteng branch in 1994. She has shown competency in every portfolio she managed. Creecy was tipped to be Deputy Finance Minister, but instead was given the newly combined Environment, Forestries and Fisheries portfolio. As the environmental crisis continues to make headlines, she will need to bring South Africa into a greener future.

DoB: 17 June 1958

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Tito Mboweni. Photo: Leila Dougan

Employment and Labour

By adding Employment to the old Ministry of Labour, Ramaphosa has given Nxesi a Herculean task of addressing the employment crisis. Recent stats show that 27.6% of the labour force are unemployed, meaning fewer South Africans have jobs. In 2013 Nxesi worked hard to cover up Zuma’s costly security upgrades to his Nkandla home, initially saying that no public money was spent and classifying the information as Top Secret.

DoB: 9 June 1959

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Mboweni’s retention of finance comes as no surprise, with former businessman Ramaphosa emphasising the need to revitalise the economy while announcing his executive. Mboweni came under fire from labour federation Cosatu for his stance on issues such as the missing billions from state-owned entities. Despite this, his appointment has reassured investors. With the GDP shrinking by an unprecedented 3.2% in the first quarter, he will have his work cut out for him.

Dob: 16 March 1959

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Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee
Blade Nzimande. Photo: Leila Dougan


Mkhize replaces Aaron Motsoaledi, who was minister for a decade. At the 2017 Nasrec conference Mkhize appeared to be at the top of his game, but he withdrew his presidential candidacy at the last second. He faces a crumbling healthcare system and a country with little faith in the department. One of his biggest challenges will be to navigate the implementation of the controversial National Health Insurance Plan.

DoB: 6 September 1952

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Higher Education, Science and Technology

Nzimande returns to his position in Higher Education, this time taking on Science and Technology as well. He faced the wrath of students for his handling of the #FeesMustFall protests, at one point saying that “students must fall”. His appointment was met with disdain on social media, with some students calling on Ramaphosa to reconsider. He is the general secretary of the SACP.

DoB: 14 April 1958

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Motsoaledi close up
Lindiwe Sisulu. Photo: Leila Dougan

Home Affairs

As Health Minister he made serious insteps to curb Aids denialism, and has actively spoken out against corruption. But despite his apparent good intentions, Motsoaledi will leave the healthcare system wrought with corruption. Last year he was shown to have made xenophobic remarks about immigrants spreading disease in hospitals. He faces a department that comes under frequent scrutiny from citizens for poor service delivery, particularly as systems regularly go offline without explanation.

DoB: 7 August 1958

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Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation

Sisulu will occupy the portfolio for the third time, after a stint as International Relations Minister from 2018. Although Sisulu ran against Ramaphosa to replace Zuma, she lacked support even to beat out David Mabuza for deputy president. Ramaphosa has said in the past that Sisulu’s stances on Israel and Rwanda made geopolitics tough for him. Her newly combined portfolio will put her face-to-face with water shortages and violence in informal settlements, such as Alexandra.

DoB: 10 May 1964

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International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor revealed that her government and Mozambique’s were in discussion about how South Africa could help Maputo fight the insurgency. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sunday Times /Simphiwe Nkwali)
Ronald Lamola during the ANC national executive committee media briefing after its two-day lekgotla on August 01, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The party’s lekgotla had resolved to amend the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. Photo: Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Lucky Morajane

International relations

Pandor has said that diplomacy is “not her strength” and that she was surprised to be appointed head of International Relations. After heading the Higher Education and Science and Technology portfolios, the combined department seemed tailor-made for her. But Pandor’s appointment may help ease issues Sisulu created with Rwanda, with Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera Tweeting that he looks forward to working with Pandor.

DoB: 7 December 1953

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Justice and Correctional Services

A former ANCYL deputy president, Lamola is the youngest Justice Minister ever appointed and the youngest minister in Ramaphosa’s “multi-generational” Cabinet. He has two Masters degrees in Law. He called for Zuma’s resignation after the Nkandla scandal, and tried to occupy Luthuli House to demonstrate against Zuma. He was crucial in securing Ramaphosa’s win at the ANC’s Nasrec conference, and has proven to be a trusted ally.

DoB: 21 November 1983

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Gwede Mantashe. Photo: Leila Dougan

Mineral Resources and Energy

Despite ongoing disputes with the mining industry, Mantashe remains head of Mineral Resources, now with the added responsibility of Energy. Mantashe will have to juggle two huge portfolios, at a time when the extractive industry and burning of fossil fuels are making headlines. Mantashe was flagged by the ANC’s integrity commission for bringing the party into disrepute. Unlike Mabuza, Mantashe was sworn in as an MP along with his colleagues.

DoB: 23 October 1960

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Minister in the Presidency

Chief Whip of the ANC for the past three years, Mthembu takes on his first role as a minister. A staunch Ramaphosa supporter throughout the CR17 campaign, Mthembu will be in the closest proximity to Ramaphosa through his five-year term. Mthembu comes from a trade union background, and has also acted as ANC national spokesman. He is respected within Parliament, having stuck his neck out in the last days of the Zuma era.

DoB: 5 June 1958

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Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille in Hanover Park, Cape Town, 29 August 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan

Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

While serving as Rural Development and Land Reform Minister from 2018, Nkoana-Mashanane repeatedly come under fire for her failure to appear in court and provide restitution for previous residents of District Six, Cape Town. During the Zondo Commission former Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene claimed Nkoana-Mashabane, among others, pressured him into signing a secret Russian nuclear deal. Some gender activists have critiqued the combination of portfolios, as well as Nkoana-Mashanane who supported Zuma during his rape allegations.

DoB: 30 September 1963

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Public Works and Infrastructure                                      

De Lille, also known as Aunty Pat, was arguably the most surprising name on the ministerial list. The ex-mayor of Cape Town has a long political CV, including stints with the PAC, Independent Democrats and DA. Five months before elections, she formed a new political party, Good, which won just 0.4% of the national vote, resulting in many parties questioning Ramaphosa’s unexpected appointment. Her battles with the DA in Cape Town, particularly over claims that she was fired, continue.

DoB: 17 February 1951

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Minister of Police, Bheki Cele at a community meeting in Hermanus, 24 July 2018. Photo: Leila Dougan
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan briefed the public enterprises portfolio committee in Parliament on Wednesday, 2 May 2018. Photo by Leila Dougan


Cele returns to Cabinet as Minister of Police at the same time as the rot within SAPS and Ipid comes to light in the Zondo Commission. The then President Zuma dismissed Cele as Police Minister in 2012 after he was found to be unfit for office, but he was reappointed by Ramaphosa in his 2018 Cabinet reshuffle. In the Western Cape an intergovernmental dispute still stands against Cele, issued over a lack of policing resources in the province.

DoB: 22 February 1952

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Public Enterprises

Gordhan is no stranger to scandal and finger-pointing, and his reinstatement as Minister of Public Enterprise is not without controversy. The Public Protector released a report on the eve of Cabinet’s expected announcement claiming Gordhan unlawfully approved an early retirement for a former SARS deputy commissioner. Just four days later Gordhan — who has been outspoken against state capture — had taken the report on review. His reinstatement will appease foreign investors worried about South Africa’s economy.

DoB: 12 April 1949

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Senzo Mchunu visit to St. Mary's, March 2011. Photo: The Bambisanani Partnership
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng swears in Khumbudzo Ntshavheni during the swearing in ceremony of new Cabinet ministers at the Sefako Makgatho presidential guest house on May 30, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. This is after Ramaphosa announced his reduced cabinet, which saw a considerably high number of women, as well as the surprise inclusion the Good party leader Patricia de Lille. (Photo by Gallo Images/Netwerk24/Felix Dlangamandla)

Public Service and Administration

After spending most of his political career in the KZN legislature, Mchunu quickly moved from NEC member to minister. Earlier in 2019 he found himself, alongside Gordhan, at the heart of ANC infighting that saw both ministers slammed for supposedly attacking black professionals. Just 24 hours later the ANC issued a whiplash-inducing apology to both men, but Mchunu was still quoted saying “black managers” were to blame for the looting of parastatals. He condemned Zuma’s inability to “tell right from wrong”.

DoB: 31 January 1968

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Small Business Development

One of the youngest ministers in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet, Ntshavheni is a newcomer to the national political game. She was a campaign manager in Limpopo for Ramaphosa’s Nasrec campaign. She has managed to fly under the radar, but was placed on precautionary suspension as COO of the State IT Agency (Sita) for allegations of dishonesty and financial misconduct. No charges were laid. She was later given a golden handshake worth R1.9-million.

DoB: 30 January 1977

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Minister of Social Development is Lindiwe Zulu, 12 December 2017. (Photo: Kopano Tlape GCIS)
Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa during the launch of Anti-Racism week at the Apartheid Museum on March 06, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Speaking to journalists, Jonas said he was not opposed to the EFF's proposal for him to be the next mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay. Photo: Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Jabu Kumalo

Social Development

Previously Small Business Development head, Zulu supported former president Jacob Zuma at every step of the way. She is also open about her dislike of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, refusing to join a standing ovation for Gordhan’s 2017 Budget speech. In 2015 she almost came to blows with an EFF MP in Parliament, but instead took the fight outside. As Social Development Minister, she will head a larger portfolio with a far larger budget.

DoB: 21 April 1958

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Sports, Arts and Culture

Mthethwa returns to the Arts and Culture Ministry, now combined with the Ministry of Sports. He was demoted from Minister of Police to Arts and Culture by Zuma in 2014 after taking flack for the SAPS’s role in the Marikana Massacre. During the outcry over The Spear painting and its subsequent defacing, Mthethwa appeared not to know about the situation, and asked journalists what The Spear was.

DoB: 23 January 1967

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Minister of Communications, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo at Ronnie Mamoepa Media Centre, Tshedimosetso House in Pretoria joined Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the Minister of Sports and Recreation, Mr Thulas Nxesi addressing media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting that took place on Tuesday, 01 August 2017.  Cabinet held its ordinary meeting yesterday at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria ahead of the Lekgotla.   03/08/2017, Ntswe Mokoena.
Minister of Communications Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane briefing members of the media on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday 06 December 2017. The post cabinet media briefing took place at Ronnie Mamoepa Media Centre, Tshedimosetso House in Petoria. O7/12/2017.

State Security

A supporter of Ramaphosa, Dlodlo was put in charge of the reorganisation of government when she was Public Service Minister. In 2017 she was dragged to Parliament’s Ethics Committee over an undeclared trip to Dubai in 2015, paid for in part by Fana Hlongwane, a businessman close to the arms deal and implicated in the then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.

DoB: 22 May 1963

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Kubayi-Ngubane replaces Derek Hanekom, who did not make it back into Cabinet. She has held many different ministerial positions, spending 10 months as Minister of Energy during the Eskom crisis, four months as Minister of Communications, and recently, just over two months as Minister of Science and Technology. She is on record praising Zuma’s leadership style, and threw her weight behind NDZ in 2017. She is a member of the ANC Youth League.

DoB: 8 May 1978

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Minister of Ebrahim Patel speaking about the South Africa's Green Economy Accord launched at the COP17 Conference on Tuesday, the Conference is held at Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban,South Africa 28/11/2011
ANC elections head Fikile Mbalula at the announcement of the final results for the 2019 Election at the National Results Operation Center (ROC) in Pretoria on Saturday 11 May 2019. Photo: Leila Dougan

Trade and Industry

After spending a decade as head of the new merged Economic Development portfolio, Patel’s mandate to grow the economy has, itself, grown. Patel did not win a spot in Parliament, so Ramaphosa had to use his limited constitutional right to reappoint him. But some Twitter users were less than pleased with his reinstatement, with many people making reference to the economy’s minimal growth under his hand.

DoB: 1 January 1962

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Despite strong evidence that he received money from a sporting goods group for a holiday in Dubai, Fikile “Fearfokkol” Mbalula returns to Cabinet after heading up the ANC’s election campaign. Previously he was Police Minister, as well as president of the ANC Youth League. Mbalula’s name came up during the Zondo Commission, but during his testimony he denied being a Gupta Minister. As head of transport he will have to try and fix South Africa’s disastrous public transport system.

DoB: 8 April 1971

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