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Daily Maverick Readers Speak – Gift of the Givers’ Imtiaz Sooliman for President

Daily Maverick Readers Speak – Gift of the Givers’ Imtiaz Sooliman for President
Gift of the Givers CEO Imtiaz Sooliman distributes toiletry packs at Kwa Nonzondelelo Methodist Church in Masiphumelele on Tuesday, 1 November 2022. (Photo: Joyrene Kramer)

We asked Daily Maverick readers to help us pick a Cabinet with new blood to steer South Africa forward. This is what you came up with.

Thank you for thinking through with us what a Dream Daily Maverick Cabinet would look like. What’s striking is how few Cabinet ministers made your cut – perhaps an indication of how disappointed we are with the political elite. You gave President Cyril Ramaphosa the boot and replaced him with Gift of the Givers’ Imtiaz Sooliman.

Readers gave President Cyril Ramaphosa the boot and replaced him with Gift of the Givers Imtiaz Sooliman. For deputy president, they voted for Mcebisi Jonas, the former deputy finance minister who was the most high-profile State Capture whistle-blower. 

Remember that the Guptas offered him foreign bank accounts loaded with dollars if he would do their bidding. He said no. The former Public Protector and now social justice activist Thuli Madonsela also became a popular candidate for Citizen 2.

Both Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola got stay-in-place votes from you, as did Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza; Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana; and Energy, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy.

Only five of more than 700 voters in our reader poll thought Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga should stay. Former vice-chancellor and adjunct professor at Stellenbosch Jonathan Jansen got the most thumbs-up to fill her shoes.

The former Post Office CEO Mark Barnes (now a Daily Maverick podcaster) got the vote for communications and digital technologies minister. If readers had it their way, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma would be on her way to retirement – only three of 701  thought she should stay.

Readers would also eject Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and replace him with banker and venture capitalist Michael Jordaan. Jordaan is an expert at queue management and how to use technology to streamline systems. At FNB, he shifted the banks from bricks to clicks, a journey Home Affairs must desperately undertake. 

Read in Daily Maverick:Kneecapped – How power cuts shed jobs, life, your mental health

And readers would replace International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor with global comedian Trevor Noah, who was photographed shopping in a Checkers store last week. Noah is famous in the US, while Pandor is rapidly becoming persona non grata. The US House of Representatives is investigating the war games South Africa hosted with Russia and China last week as the world commemorated the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine.

Reader votes mimic broader unhappiness with the political class. The latest Ipsos survey of political attitudes, in November 2022, shows that though Ramaphosa is still SA’s most well-­regarded political leader, his approval ratings are sliding faster than an Eskom power grid in the grip of coal cartels. 

Increasingly, South Africans choose attributes of leaders outside politics, such as Sooliman and Jansen. This is bad news for incumbent politicians (the DA leader John Steen­huisen and the EFF’s Julius Malema also don’t get great numbers) and the voter turnout in the national and provincial elections in 2024. 

Ramaphosa will likely announce the reshuffle of his Cabinet this weekend, but all indications are that he will choose candidates from the governing ANC. It is a safe bet that ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile will replace Deputy President David Mabuza, who resigned this week.

Dlamini Zuma is likely to stay because of her strong support base in the ANC and regardless of her lack of popularity in the country. The ANC veterans Parks Tau who has had experience as Johannesburg mayor, a Gauteng provincial MEC and a deputy minister, is likely to make a Cabinet debut along with the former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala. 

The only fresh blood the President is likely to introduce is the head of Infrastructure SA, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, who has a reporting line to Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille and the Presidency. He is a former Tshwane mayor and ANC insider.

These choices are very different from those readers made. Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi received just 31 votes out of the 670 cast, while our suggested alternative candidate Maryana Iskander received the majority of votes. 

Iskander was the first CEO of the Harambee Employment Accelerator, a very successful youth jobs portal. Nxesi has presided over a static labour market; this week, Stats SA said most jobs created in the last quarter (170,000) were in the Western Cape. 

In the season of your big boot, even a stabilising health minister like Joe Phaahla would be out. Instead, the epidemiologist and award-winning scientist Quarraisha Abdool-Karrim, who was part of the team that led South Africa’s response to Covid-19, won the majority of votes. The capable Western Cape head of health Keith Cloete came second. 

If you had the President’s power, you would also remove Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Former University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Tshilidzi Marwala and Witwatersrand University boss and rocket scientist Zeblon Vilakazi would replace him. Sadly, Marwala jetted off this week to run the United Nations University in Tokyo, while Vilakazi has his hands full with student fee protests. 

Another civil society leader who got your vote is S’bu Zikode, the Abahlali base­Mjondolo shack-dwellers movement leader, for human settlements minister. The incumbent, Mmamoloko Kubayi, received just over 20 votes in our reader poll. 

With load shedding at a 15-year high, it should be no surprise that Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is not popular. The former trade unionist Frans Baleni would be a better leader, according to our reader poll and maybe even Ramaphosa if he decided he wanted a somewhat less trying job. DM168

Eskom Intelligence Files – your questions

Can you leak the information to the Presidency ahead of a Cabinet reshuffle?

No, we can’t. There is an ethical obligation to verify and back up the information. We also believe that the Presidency is well apprised of the information. Here is Kevin Bloom’s guide to the four cartels that have brought us to this point. 

Was De Ruyter the victim of a political conspiracy or the worst CEO in Eskom’s history?

Neither. Former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter accepted the role as an act of public service, he said when appointed. He was invigorated and challenged by the need to reform Eskom and took a big pay cut to do the job (still earning a whopping R7-million in his final year, though). He worked hard and focused as much on generation as he did on new renewable energy. But from the get-go, the reform team at Eskom faced blowback and sabotage at power stations as they cracked down on procurement fraud, coal-swapping and other methods of theft at the utility. He was in many ways set up to fail. 

It is my (Ferial) view that by the end of his tenure and ahead of the ANC conference in December 2022, the sabotage was organised and planned by the cartels identified here.  

I (Ferial) thought that De Ruyter focused a lot on tariff cost recovery without taking sufficient account of the circumstances of people or businesses. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said he was too often swanning around overseas finding support for the transition to green energy, but De Ruyter’s diary will not bear this out. As someone who covers Eskom, he often led briefings and attended to the nuts and bolts of power station management. Here’s what happened in this last year in office.

Read in Daily Maverick:Ramaphosa routed the RET faction – but rolling blackouts could floor him

We expect the Eskom Intelligence Files investigations to last all year as we get to the bottom of the electricity crisis. We will answer your questions regularly, so keep them coming.

Wishing you all a week of reasonable light during the daily rolling blackouts. 

Ferial, Sahra and Janet 

For a little break and some uplifting news, here’s our monthly round-up:

This month, we took inspiration from an art exhibition that captures young South Africans’ hopes, ‘fears, aspirations and disappointments’.

We loved this escape to the remarkable Gariep Dam, right in the middle of the country.

We felt energised by the hike-cycle-love trio who breathed life back into Ida’s Valley.

We were fascinated by the remains of prehistoric 3m fish discovered in the Eastern Cape.

Finally, we’re making plans to try the “The Super De Ruyter Burger”, deliciously crafted by Daily Maverick Food Editor Tony Jackman. It’s a no-nonsense burger made of fortitude, resilience and an unwavering conscience. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Louise De Wet says:

    Where can I go to vote for this?

  • Please some one, we need a “Save South Africa” movement/political party. DM has identified the new leaders. Not sure Imtiaz would want the job though. But Thuli would do nicely thank you, seeing the deputy position is taken.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Whilst I admire ( and support) Gift of the Givers, one has to wonder if the ultimate aim for this organisation is to become a political party? With the Imam Thapelo Amad, recently sworn in as Mayor of Johannesburg under dubious circumstances, it could seem like a step in this direction. Nothing in South African politics surprises us any longer, so am I just being paranoid?

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