South Africa


Ramaphosa changes more than a third of his Cabinet, takes state security into the Presidency, gives Mboweni a pass out of government

Illustrative image | Sources: President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers /Getty Images) | Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | Rawpixel

The president moves to bolster safety with Sydney Mufamadi appointed national security adviser while Thandi Modise takes over as Defence Minister. Bheki Cele remains minister of police.

After 1,264 days in office and facing down an insurrection and the potential of ongoing attacks, President Cyril Ramaphosa changed about one in three ministers in his 28-member Cabinet on 5 August.

While Bheki Cele survived as police minister, he has made deep changes to the national security portfolios. The other two security ministers are out. Former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been fired after botching the response to July’s rioting and looting mayhem.

Ramaphosa has taken responsibility for state security into his Cabinet and appointed a long-time confidante and comrade Sydney Mufamadi as national security adviser. Zizi Kodwa will move to the Union Buildings as deputy state security minister in the Presidency. This move raises the spectre of a super-Presidency which Ramaphosa has sought to avoid, preferring a Presidency with a collective Cabinet culture. But it is a gamble Ramaphosa was willing to take after the assault on the state, likely to have been orchestrated by a faction of the governing party in July. 

Former state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo has been moved back to her previous role in charge of Public Service and Administration — a portfolio few politicians covet because it puts them in the line of trade union fire. The former incumbent Senzo Mchunu will now lead a new portfolio, Water and Sanitation. 

Water has become a security issue in an era of the climate crisis. There are numerous droughts across South Africa and water infrastructure is collapsing. “Water security is fundamental to the lives and health of our people, to the stability of our society and to the growth and sustainability of our economy,” said Ramaphosa. 

Mufamadi is likely to work closely with Ramaphosa to overhaul the intelligence services. The domestic and foreign intelligence services within the State Security Agency do not have leaders after advocate Mahlodi Muofhe’s contract was not renewed while the head of foreign intelligence, Robert McBride, has been suspended. Mufamadi headed the High Level Review Panel into the State Security Agency appointed by Ramaphosa in 2018. He is likely to finally implement the findings of that report after serial failings were exposed by the July violence, which claimed 337 lives and has left the state vulnerable.

To complete the strengthening of the Presidency, Ramaphosa has appointed his supporter Mondli Gungubele into the strategic role of Minister in the Presidency to replace Jackson Mthembu who succumbed to Covid-19 in 2020. Gungubele is a seasoned politician who was previously deputy finance minister, a former mayor of Ekurhuleni and has held numerous provincial governing portfolios. The outcome of the Cabinet reshuffle is that Ramaphosa has gathered significant support around himself in the Presidency to fend off the numerous onslaughts his administration has faced and which will accelerate as the governing ANC’s next elective conference draws closer in 2022. 

New finance minister; new health minister 

The man with the trademark fedora, Enoch Godongwana, has been appointed finance minister after Tito Mboweni bowed out as he has requested for more than a year. Godongwana is a seasoned leader of the party’s Economic Transformation Committee and is well known in big business circles. He is a former trade unionist and can manage the careful political egg-dance the portfolio demands. He is less fiscally conscientious than Mboweni has been, which is bad news for debt levels, but good news for the significant lobby in favour of a basic income grant and for other redistributive measures to boost the economy. 

The energetic Khumbudzo Ntshaveni won Ramaphosa’s confidence when she stood in after Mthembu’s death. She has been given the crucial portfolio of Communications and Digital Technologies, where Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams did not move anything significant. She has been moved to become minister of Small Business.

After many years as a deputy, Joe Phaahla stepped into the shoes of Zweli Mkhize, who resigned on 4 August after being exposed by Daily Maverick for receiving family payola from the Digital Vibes contract.

R1m from Digital Vibes deal bankrolled hair salon, nail boutique for Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son, daughter-in-law

The acting Health and Tourism minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has been promoted as Human Settlements minister. The former Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu has been switched to the tourism portfolio — a demotion, given that there is no tourism during Covid-19. Sisulu is the Cabinet minister who has most closely aligned herself with the RET faction. 

End of the Cabinet of party unity 

While David Mahlobo, the former minister of State Security under former president Jacob Zuma’s administration, will maintain his deputy minister’s role, Ramaphosa now has his own executive. 

When he was appointed president in 2018, he had to create a Cabinet of party unity reflecting some of the choices of suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule. He has shifted roles now to shape a Cabinet that is more attuned to his own presidency. 

South Africa’s security risk rating is red-flagged after the attack on the state in three provinces from 9 to 16 July. The second phase of violence is now anticipated, as Carien du Plessis reported. Ramaphosa has taken control of state security and appointed a three-person panel to help him urgently fix the State Security Agency. 

ANC’s Jessie Duarte puts out red alert against calls for ‘second wave’ of unrest

Professor Sandy Africa, regarded as one of the top intelligence leaders in the country, will chair the panel. She was a senior leader in the old National Intelligence Agency under former President Thabo Mbeki. Africa will be joined by Mbeki’s former adviser Mojanku Gumbi, and Silumko Sokupa, who is a former national coordinator of the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee. 

Executive gets bigger, not smaller

When he came to office in 2018, Ramaphosa promised a leaner, meaner Cabinet of greater effectiveness. But the realities of ANC factional and regional politics have meant that his executive has grown. By splitting off Water and Sanitation from Human Settlements, he has grown his Cabinet from 28 to 29 portfolios, while the Presidency is getting larger and more powerful. 

The deputy ministers’ layer of bureaucracy is growing too — it is now at 33 members, up from 32. Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe now has a deputy minister with the appointment of Dr Nobuhle Nkabane, who has been promoted from Parliament. DM


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All Comments 52

    • I agree it still leaves a lot to be desired. However it’s probably overall more positive than negative. Cyril’s not spoilt for choice, but he appears to have strengthened his hand & got rid of some of Ace’s cronies.

      As for the less desirables, Sisulu, Mahlobo et. al he’d probably rather have them on the inside where they can be managed & watched rather than on the outside stirring the pot….

      When all is said & done, for as long as SA is held hostage by ANC internal politics & strife, I can’t see things improving much.

      • Yes, it’s a bit like LBJ keeping Hoover on as director of the FBI. He said ‘I’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in’. Certainly Cele causes huge ructions in the ANC when he doesn’t get a big salary and have access to toys such as private jets.

        • Cele’s retention suggests that Sithole will soon get the chop. Then, the Augean Stables task of cleaning up SAPS upper echelons can get underway. Cele’s retention is the lesser of two evils.

    • The adage of keeps friends close and enemies closer comes to mind when considering the cabinet. Slowly, slowly does it. Glad to see Mr Ramaphosa has moved state security into the Presidency. About time. And though no one wants a bloated cabinet, I’m glad to see water and sanitation getting the attention it deserves. Love to see a Ministry of Renewable Energy Resources.

  • I am now even more nervous about SA….. Tito was the one stable minister that could be trusted to do his job without fear or favour. I suspect the recent good news regarding the tax income increase is merely a sop to lull us into a false sense of security before the announcement of increases to our tax rates….and, god help us….the nationalization of the South African Reserve Bank. Time will tell.

    • And so should we all.

      Enoch is a raging supporter of the school of thought that says taking from the rich and giving to the poor will stimulate your economy.

      There are some marvellous economic success stories to back this theory up – USSR for one. Then there was the UK leading up to just before Thatcher. Loads of examples, but the best is perhaps the “rich-to-poor” redistribution that occurred here during our KZN / Gauteng looting. That was surely an economic injection.

      The future is red and rosy.

  • Looks pretty clear that there is no reform agenda to restart the economy.

    Truly deck chairs on the Titanic when what we need is a new ship

  • Why has Cele survived? Does he have dirt on Cyril? There simply cannot be any other reasoning behind this. He continues to dismally fail to serve and protect the people of South Africa. Yet he survives. Something MUST be going on.

    • Cele has actually been the most competent of the security cluster ministers and is Cyril’s key ally in KZN. He’s the one who wanted the other ministers in the security cluster gone and also wants to get rid of Sitole as police general, who’s the real rotten egg.

      • Rudi, for the sake of good order please stop being so anal. You don’t have a monopoly on understanding SA politics – we all have a fair grasp of what is entailed with being a political leader. We’re just gatvol of this slowly, slowly move a pawn and the change your mind and move it back. No wonder this president needed to do BEE deals because he couldn’t run a spaza shop on his own. That’s my take and it will take something realistic to change my mind.

        • Yeah and you know what I’m gatvol of? People claiming to have an understanding of how to remove 10 years worth of state capture in the space of only 3 years. I’m also gatvol of people claiming that it’s just that , “move a pawn, then slowly move it back” when reality he’s been moving pawns slowly his whole bloody presidency. I beg you give me an example of where he’s actually regressed.

          For the sake of good order I’m doing this because otherwise people will fall into the trap of hopelessness that Bruce Whitfield talks about in his book “The Upside of Down”. And do you know what happens then? People decide that there’s no future here when it could go either way and they leave. And do you know what happens when everyone leaves? We’re effed, that’s what. No skills, no tax base, nada.

          And all because people refused to give Cyril longer than 5 mins to reform. If people would give the guy a full 2 terms (which if you understand the current political dynamic in the ANC, he should get), that’s all I’m asking for.

          • That’s exactly what I’m saying – our worst nightmare is already here with a huge flight of capital in progress and many highly skilled youngsters planning to go when world health conditions improve. And being realistic, no one expects immediate results but our human side makes us want to see progress, any progress. We’re all entitled to our opinions but maligning people the way you do makes me think thaty you lack any form of finesse.

          • @charles – while I hear your position, I think Laurence’s statement manifests exactly the lack of finesse you are refer to – and as such got the response it deserved.

    • Mboweni was reluctant to accept this poisoned chalice from the start, and he has long wanted to exit. He did an excellent job under the circumstances he found himself in. A number of candidates ahead of Enoch the mule turned it down Be suspicious of the one who eagerly embraces this portfolio.

  • Is it possible and/or a good idea to produce a table showing who is in and who is out? I think it would make the exercise easier to follow!

  • This move could give us the chance to sort out our intelligence agencies once and for all. Clever move to bring in Mufamadi as an”advisor” who will no doubt have significant power to implement the necessary reforms he has long advocated.

    • Agreed. He could also have asked Manuel, Motlanthe and even Mbeki, despite his apaling performance with regards to HIV, to come out of retirement and help get the country back on it’s feet.

    • Good to see some of the Mbeki old guard shuffling in. The sane segment of the South African society will welcome Mbeki back with open arms.

  • cr has now confirmed that we and the rest of the world have to accept that SA is no longer a Western/First World country with a Third World element. SA is just another African country waiting for the final fall. Re-appointing deadwood and persons who have been fingered for corruption and being just plain useless. How do you explain that as being progressive? Seems to me more like a puppet than an ‘in control’ president. In that sense, of taking control, I have more respect for jz than I have for cr.

  • Those ins favour – deployment. Those out favour – redeployment. Why can’t this lame president throw out the rotten eggs. The will continue t9 foul the entire basket from behind the scenes.

  • Pray tell, how many of the 63 are Zulus? And the others – Ndebele, Pedi, Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venḓa, Xhosa, English, and Afrikaans? It is important to know; especially after the Zulu Uprising ( “… the assault on the state, likely to have been orchestrated by a faction of the governing party in July.” DM).

    • It helps to know that most Africans are multi-lingual and multi-ethnic. Attributing a single ethnicity to those in position of power is archaic and actually an insult to us.

  • Talk about the deck chairs on the Titanic . Am I correct in saying that only one minister has been given the boot? Apart from Tito that is …who has wanted to resign for a while. My pet hate is paying for Deputy Ministers…what do they do each day?

  • Lest we forget Enoch’s shameful involvement in the pension fund scandal less than a decade ago:
    On a personal note, the shyster still owes me a bottle of single malt he appropriate one evening whilst dining at my restaurant. How can anyone take this bunch of self-serving, mendacious, Janus-faced turds seriously.

  • At last! Congratulations ‘Mr President’ – our prayers and support are with you. God bless you and may your reshuffle enable you to fulfill your promise of ‘a New Dawn’.

  • A tactical, public political power-play designed to renew cohesion between the tripartite alliance’s parliamentary and extra parliamentary control of SA: ANC-Cosatu-SACP “uber alles”, corruption including.

    Global investors and rating agencies cannot fail to note with concern:

    (1) acceleration away from discipline towards socialism and over spending – architect Pravin Gordhan remains in charge of Trade, Industry and Mines and is enjoined in concert by champagne socialist Enoch Godongwana as Minister of Finance

    Tito, perhaps the last vestige of restraint, gracefully retires as the largest commercial dagga farmer in SA, how lucky he was to get this license. Must be coincidence

    Government’s gambit, having failed to create jobs, is to tax and spend more with Basic Income Grants: this neatly steps ahead of challengers within the ANC, EFF, SACP and Cosatu; but can the extension of Zumanomics defy the inflationary spiral of debt gravity?

    (2) Tripartite alliance pay-offs remain in place, shoring up the Cosatu-ANC-SACP alliance “uber alles” – the SACP’s Blade Nzimande, and countless Cosatu aficiandos (such as Cyril, Enoch) are pushed up to the front of the table.

    Cadre deployment in the name of BBBEE remains central – and, inevitably, corrupt.

    It brings back in disgruntled (and arguably more competent) ANC old guard from the Mbeki era, albeit with a limited shelf life.

    Having recreated the ANC grand church, the question for non believers is – can the DA step up their game?

  • Shuffling, but no real discards from the rotten deck.
    So Cele hangs – in hopefully only for for now. Is this most obvious omission because of fears that Cele will continue or increase his pitiful performance during the open trial for Zuma? We can certainly look forward to massive RET demonstrations and ructions outside the courthouse and already trashed PMB in general
    Can we expect decent preparation and policing this time round?

    • Demonstrations will now be outside hospital…

      Court has ruled in-person for Thales armsdeal case giving zuma easy excuse for another delay.

  • I take offence to the statement that the tourism portfolio is a demotion for Sisulu. On the contrary, this sector (and massive economic driver and employer) needs all the help it can get in the time to come, and we welcome a strong voice in Cabinet to ensure this is achieved with great urgency and priority. Tourism is not a frilly side-hustle, but a very important contributor to the export economy of South Africa!

  • Pity about Mboweni

    Pity CR did not take this opportunity to slash number of ministries in half.

    Pity Kopdoek and Cele and a few more survived the purge. I cringe on behalf of the nation whenever they appear on TV.

  • I am shattered that Cele survived this “reshuffle”. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that he is an incompetent idiot and the SAPS is in an absolute mess.

  • For pete’s Cyril you don’t need more than 10 in the cabinet. It’s almost if not impossible to control a bunch of corruptibles like you’ve got.

  • Is it not just a reshuffle of mostly the same cards? And this would imply that as usual, capacity and qualification for cabinet( and other governmental positions) are not a prerequisite for the job,as all the occupiers of the posts appear to be interchangeable, so that the cadres( only the cadres) can be mixed and matched to any portfolio!

  • Hi Cyril,

    I am truly hopeful that you are a man of vision, and against this backdrop I have 2 desperate requests (which I likewise hope are already encompassed by your vision):

    1. Cabinet member selection: I understand completely the desire for an African cabinet so make the membership requirements simply African, honest, ethical and a normal IQ / EQ. Forget skill completely.

    2. Cabinet member team selection: Make the requirement skill skill and skill in each specialist area. A great leader surrounds themselves with great people.

    I can absolutely guarantee that ethical honest leaders supported by expert skilled teams will change the game in this country to the benefit of everyone.

  • How on earth did DM allow this totally misleading headline get through? When I saw it, I said WOW this is a step forward. On reading the article it appeared that it realyy was a case of shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. ONLY ONE MINISTER BOOTED OUT – A more truthful headline