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Ramaphosa to go for Cabinet reshuffle lite — the power lies in his super Presidency

Ramaphosa to go for Cabinet reshuffle lite — the power lies in his super Presidency
From left: ANC second Deputy Secretary-General Maropene Ramokgopa. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | ANC MP Parks Tau. (Photo: Supplied) | Former KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart) | ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images) | Minister of Cooperative Governance Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. (Photo: Leila Dougan) | Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu. (Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lerato Maduna)

President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to make only minor changes to his Cabinet despite a groundswell calling for better political leadership.

ramaphosa reshuffle

This graphic shows the Cabinet has two vacancies — the Departments of Transport and Public Service and Administration. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula will soon vacate Cabinet as his position as Secretary-General in ANC is a fulltime post.

Four new ANC MPs have been sworn in, suggesting there will be no fresh blood, and he is unlikely to use his authority to draft in two Cabinet ministers from outside Parliament.

The President could make the Cabinet changes at the weekend.

Follow our live Sona updates and commentary from the Cape Town City Hall 

This is how the four new MPs can be used in a lightly reshaped Cabinet:

  • Paul Mashatile is waiting for Deputy President David Mabuza to resign so he can get into the Union Buildings formally.
  • Maropene Ramokgopa is an ANC deputy secretary-general and Ramaphosa’s international adviser. She could be a deputy minister of international relations or a tourism minister closely linked to international relations and home affairs. Most bets are that Ramaphosa will fire Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
  • Parks Tau can be used in either of the vacancies as he is a seasoned politician who has served in national, provincial and local government, where he was one of the better mayors of Johannesburg.

Tau is a specialist in local government, which is falling apart despite Co-operative Government Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s district development model. This model, which has been painted as the panacea for the sphere, is costing the ANC support because it is where state failure is first made manifest.

ramaphosa reshuffle

Dlamini Zuma is likely to stay in Cabinet despite facing disciplinary action from the ANC for voting against the party line about the Phala Phala report commissioned by Parliament in October 2022. This is the ongoing investigation into monies stolen from Ramaphosa’s game farm and kept secret from the public until exposed by former spymaster Arthur Fraser.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “To complete SA Cabinet reshuffle, multiple political machineries must work nationwide – here’s how”

  • Former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala was demoted after his faction of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal was trounced by the Taliban faction of the party. So Ramaphosa owes him. Business Day has reported he could attend the public service and administration vacancy.

In December, at the Nasrec conference, a senior Ramaphosa ally said his win had emboldened him and that he would be “reviewing the strength and relevance of his Cabinet”.

This week, the same person told Daily Maverick, “Government performance is not only about Ministers.” He said programmes in the Presidency were still the key to solving the polycrises facing South Africa. “You have to take a holistic look rather than pinning everything on the Cabinet. People are hugely excited, but you have to ensure the stability of government.”

This means you shouldn’t hold your breath for sweeping changes to the Cabinet, although Ramaphosa could use the 36 deputy minister positions to make further changes to the executive.

The super Presidency

If you want to know where power lies and see the Cabinet Ramaphosa would choose to be free of the shackles of a party-led political system, then look at this super Presidency.

Since 2017, Ramaphosa has built a “Cabinet within a Cabinet” system. This “kitchen cabinet” is younger, technocratic and savvy, more global and pragmatic than the Cabinet that runs the country.

ANC politics determines who is in the formal structure, and its composition must pay homage to all the power blocs in the ANC: provinces, factions, leagues and various histories of the governing party.

The super Presidency runs vital arteries of government. The State Security Agency (the entire intelligence system) operates out of the Presidency under the authority of Mondli Gungubele, the Minister in the Presidency. Ramaphosa’s eight advisers served the roles of ministers in a high-functioning Cabinet. (Political adviser Bejani Chauke is out in the cold because of his proximity to the Phala Phala scandal, but the other advisers are still crucial.)

All essential government programmes and crisis responses are run out of the Presidency. The Energy Action Plan, a response to the current and worsening power crisis, is run by Rudi Dicks. In a briefing last week, Dicks said he called Cabinet ministers and other officials every day to check where processes to unblock new power projects were. The Vulindlela programme is a heralded team that frees growth hurdles that stand in the way of the Economic Recovery Action Plan.

The Presidential Youth Employment Stimulus plan is also in  Ramaphosa’s wing in the Union Buildings. At 2.9 million funded work opportunities, it is one of the world’s biggest public works schemes.

  • Kgosientsho Ramokgopa is the head of Infrastructure SA, and he is an influential figure;
  • Trudi Makhaya (economics adviser and head of Invest SA);
  • The outgoing Daniel Mminele and Crispian Olver (The Just Energy Transition Investment Programme and the Presidential Climate Change Commission). Mminele’s one-year contract recently came to an end.
  • Sipho Nkosi is the red-tape cutter in chief;
  • A State-Owned Enterprise Council in the Presidency is managing a study to assess the viability of putting all state shares and companies into a single sovereign vehicle built on an East Asian development model.

The Presidency is a government within a government. While its intentions may be good, and the people who run it are young and talented with stripes in business, trade unions and government, it has become too big with too many structures and meetings to be effective.

Take Nkosi’s job. When he started, his brief was simple: identifying where  bureaucratic red tape was holding up growth. Then a Red Tape Reduction Council cropped up, the opposite of the intuitive step to cut bureaucracy.

Ramaphosa’s style is throwing structures at problems to negotiate solutions painstakingly, instead of simply executing.

It’s a method trusted by the President, and even with a power crisis now four times worse than it was in 2021 and growth estimates revised down to 0.1% by the SA Reserve Bank, the love affair with structures to tackle our problems will continue. Expect a slight reshuffle and a more significant Presidency. DM



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Justin Vickers says:

    Sounds great, can’t wait! His inability to lead and make decisions isn’t going to change.

    • William Kelly says:

      What a debacle. Utter and complete. Not a single name there that is worthy of a vote, let alone bring given any space to do anything… from a do nothing president to his do nothing appointees to the do nothing cabinet overseen by a do nothing but invent blame parliament, we are on our own. But do follow Kieswetter and pay up for this, because you know, it’s the right thing to do – to feed the looters. As for the poor being screwed in a tax revolt, do please tell me how they could possibly be more screwed than they already are in our failed state?

    • Marius McMichael says:

      Yup, where even Dunning Kruger couldn’t have come up with such epic levels of total incompetence and gridlock. Seems that the “New Dawn”, “tuma mina” and Ramaphoria all disappeared into distant galaxies many years ago, as “poly-crises” emerge wherever the ANC is involved in “delivery”.

  • Peter Doble says:

    If you start with low expectations, they will always be exceeded. That is the mainstay of this ponderous government which speaks volumes and delivers little. We also don’t need those grinding sonorous tones to remind the people of the state of the nation. It is omnipresent.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    The Super Presidency is simply another layer of bureaucracy that hasn’t made a blind bit of difference to the lack of service delivery and policy reform in South Africa. Not one. What has Trudi Makhaya achieved in terms of economic policy? Our mining and energy regulations are so bad that the DR-Congo gets more mining investment than we do and Namibia more energy investment. Our industrial policies have become mired in the bog of Patel’s statist (and unworkable) ‘Masterplans’. Has our infrastructure rollout programme that Ramaphosa has talked about for the last three years (US$100bn of ‘shovel ready’ projects) actually materialised (no), so what is Kgosientsho Ramokgopa doing? Has Rudi Dicks ensured one megawatt of additional power into the public grid? has Kate Philip created a single job? Sipho Nkosi’s brief comes straight out of Catch-22! You want to reduce red tape? I know! Let’s have both a Red Tape Reduction Team and then a Red Tape Reduction Council to oversee it (and they have to work with all the other silos above as well; you can see how quickly that’ll change things).

    Bottom line is that Ramaphosa’s only calling card is that isn’t Jacob Zuma. Nothing else: he’s been exposed as an utterly useless leader, deluded, sloth-like and without any vision, any backbone or any ability.

  • Patrick Devine says:

    Cadres just cannot do …..

    Except steal and mismanage – there they do ok

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Beatles: “The Nowhere-Man making his Nowhere-Plans for Nobody.”

    • Davis Kate says:

      The fact that the position for Minister of Public Service and Administration is vacant speaks volumes. I cannot fathom what CR is thinking, truly.

  • Gerrie Pretorius says:

    cr doesn’t have the b@11s to get rid if the other useless zuma in his cabinet? She is the epitome of uselessness and yet he has to tolerate her – for the sake of anc ‘unity’. To hell with SA an its people, the anc is above all! The trough needs to be available for the cadres to feed. (And the same goes for 99% of the rest of his cabinet)

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    The cabinet is so bloated, it is no wonder there is no service delivery! Get rid of Deputy Ministers, and cut the Depattments in half. Put small business back under trade, industry and competition, merge tourism and sports arts culture and communications, women children and people with disabilities should be within social development, merge basic and higher education, merge environment, forestry and fisheries with agriculture, rural development and land reform. Merge transport with infrastructure, get rid of almost all SOEs and dissolve that department, merge public service with employment and labour. Merge cooperative governance and home affairs. Put young vibrant , capable people in Cabinet, a super-presidency just adds more complications.

  • shannon Maxwell says:

    Do you ever read DM Cyril? Ministers to go; Lindiwe Sisulu (top of the list) Blade and Angie (antiquated dinosaurs), Joe Phaahla (and the 100% guaranteed unsuccessful National Health vision) Mrs. Zuma (obviously), Comrade Naledi Pandor (there’s a job waiting for you with Vlad)

    • Ellis Mortimer says:

      Sadly he reads nothing, and his advisors tell him what he wants to hear so he is totally out of touch with reality and with the voters. And even more sadly, he and the so called cabinet couldn’t care less.

  • Graham Yutar says:

    I would love to see the list of degrees and credentials our esteemed ministers have that qualify them for these high powered positions.

  • Davis Kate says:

    The fact that the position for Minister of Public Service and Administration is vacant speaks volumes. I cannot fathom what CR is thinking, truly.

  • lilley.roger says:

    So we’re stuck with Gwede Mantashe as Minister of Energy? Mark my words, that is a terrible mistake.
    This man has shown nothing but contempt for the industry. He has made some very irresponsible decisions, said some very foolish things, and generally acted like a schoolboy bully. More and more voices from industry and the public are calling for him to be replaced. Ramaphosa’s error of judgment will cost the party dearly and the economy will continue to suffer the effects of Mantashe’s unacceptably poor “leadership”. One must wonder if (a) does Ramaphosa know how much harm Mantashew has caused? and (b) does Mantashe has some ‘power’ over Ramaphosa? and (c) does Ramaphosa understand that without reliable, affordable electricity supporting economic growth, the ANC’s National Development Plan (i.e., eradicating inequality, unemployment and poverty) is impossible to implement? and (d) does he care, or is he just marking time, waiting for the next general election?

  • Denzil Williams says:

    Is it possible that someone could post the qualifications of these ministers

  • Chris 123 says:

    A rogue’s gallery of the incompetent and corrupted. Cadres before South Africa under Ramaphosa, another 5 years lost.

  • Jeff Bolus says:

    36 Deputy Cabinet Ministers ….. does this qualify for the Guiness Book of Records ? 😳

  • Grant Turnbull says:

    They have a big mouth about representation – what about the taxpayers representation, genuine businessmen with a real track record of management success, not political, spaza and civics representatives. No track record of any success – that goes for the whole group. They came in as unemployed political operatives with no real service record and have continued to deliver nothing. No exceptions.

  • Philip van Ryneveld says:

    The setting out of the super-Presidency in this article is very interesting – a really important perspective on how the country is run. And there clearly are some successes. The power crisis is dominating everything, with the result that every comment on this article is overwhelmingly negative, but google this article that came out yesterday on the Youth Employment Stimulus Program, for example. It’s actually pretty impressive.


    The problem for any political party having power in SA right now is the poor state of the public service. The decline has been years in the making and will take years to fix. There is so much focus on the politicians – but its really the public service that runs the country. Ferial, can we have an article or two from you and your team on that subject…

  • Derrick Kourie says:

    The USA cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments
    The UK cabinet has 20 ministers plus prime minister
    The SA cabinet consists of 27 ministers, deputy president and president. There used to be 36 ministries under Zuma.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    This is not a Cyril diseases of setting up task teams when there is a problem it is an ANC malaise. There was one fellow called Eugene Nyathi before the 1994 elections who was an “analyst” who once said that the ANC incompetence is such that when a snake is found in the ANC President’s office, the ANC will set up a task team to deal with the snake rather than to call competent people to capture the snake. A super Presidency is an admission of inability to lead Cabinet in terms of the Constitution. It is the inability to crack the whip on his Ministers responsible with certain line functions and a feeling of insecurity on his part so that he does not have to deal with these Ministers as a CEO of SA Inc. including firing them. As abused citizens by these departments, we have learnt to accept this mediocrity and incompetence and we even have some defending it. It is up to citizens to actually stand up and refuse to be treated as if those in office are doing us a favour. There are many instruments in the hands of citizens and they need to use them to get proper service not committees.

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