South Africa


A Presidency overhaul, some surprises and expected departures as ANC back benches deliver deputy ministers

A Presidency overhaul, some surprises and expected departures as ANC back benches deliver deputy ministers
President Cyril Ramaphosa announces the new members of the National Executive during an address held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, 6 March 2023. (Photo: GCIS)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has reconstituted his Presidency with a new minister in the Presidency and two new deputies, a new electricity minister in the Presidency and the return to a full minister in the Presidency for performance monitoring and evaluation.

The extent and scope of the changes in the Presidency are significant — even if expected were the appointments of Paul Mashatile, the ANC deputy president, as Deputy President of the country, and the Presidency infrastructure chief Kgosientsho Ramokgopa as electricity minister in the Presidency. 

A key surprise on Monday night was the re-establishment of a full ministry for performance monitoring and evaluation, since the March 2015 death of Collins Chabane in a car crash. Since then, that function fell under the minister in the Presidency, and at times had a deputy minister in place. 

Ramaphosa said such a minister would “focus greater attention on the performance of government”, a key theme in his administration. The incoming performance monitoring and evaluation minister in the Presidency is Maropene Ramokgopa, formerly the presidential international affairs adviser and, since the December ANC Nasrec conference, also the governing party’s second deputy secretary-general. 

In addition, a new minister in the Presidency was announced.  Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, whom the grapevine has long put close to Ramaphosa, replaces Mondli Gungubele, who had been closely linked to the President in government and party. 

And two new deputy ministers in the Presidency were named — Nomasonto Motaung and Kenny Morolong, both elevated from the ANC parliamentary back benches that supplied a total of seven new deputy ministers announced on Monday evening.  

In a surprise move, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma kept a spot in Cabinet — as minister for women, youth and people with disabilities in the Presidency. Her departure had been much speculated, given she was one of a handful of ANC MPs who voted for the Section 89 impeachment inquiry recommendation report to go ahead in December 2022.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Impeachment proceedings against Ramaphosa quashed as few rebels voted ‘yes’ and his loudest critics were nowhere to be seen” 

Her deputy will be MP Sisi Tolashe, one-time ANC Women’s League secretary-general; the post had been vacant since September 2021. 

That means Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is dropped, one of two ministers widely regarded as non-performing, alongside Nathi Mthethwa, as the sports, arts and culture ministry is now headed by Zizi Kodwa. Becoming a full minister is perhaps the sweetener for being moved out of the Presidency. 

Widely expected was the departure of Lindiwe Sisulu, who had called the President a “liar” and attacked his leadership. Also expected was the dropping of deputy minister Phumulo Masualle, who had contested in the anti-Ramaphosa camp at the December Nasrec elective ANC conference. He has been replaced in public enterprises by Obed Bapela, who must be among the longest-serving deputies. 

Tourism now will be headed by Good party leader Patricia de Lille, whose former deputy in Public Works, ex-Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet becomes public service and administration minister. 

The two other deputy ministers making it into Cabinet are long-time deputy at transport, Sindi Chikunga, who becomes transport minister — Fikile Mbalula is full-time at Luthuli House as ANC secretary-general — and Cooperative Governance Deputy Minister Thembi Nkadimeng takes over the portfolio as minister. 

Monday’s reshuffle shows Ramaphosa still has one Cabinet post handy for appointing a non-MP in terms of Section 91 (3)(c) of the Constitution that allows two such non-parliamentarians to serve in the Cabinet. 

But this raises questions over the need to swear in as an MP the trade, industry and competition minister, Ebrahim Patel, just hours before the presidential announcement. Or the need to swear in as an MP the other minister who was not, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana. 

Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations

A cynical move

For both to become legislators is a cynical move to give Ramaphosa scope to appoint two other non-MPs into this Cabinet. It bears remembering that Patel only got in as minister as a non-MP because he was so low on the 2019 ANC elected public representatives list he didn’t make it to the parliamentary benches. 

This time around, like never before, Parliament got pulled into the massaging and ANC prepping for a Cabinet reshuffle — the elected public representatives’ candidates’ lists of five provinces were changed, by “persuading” sitting MPs to resign, so those earmarked for Cabinet could become legislators. 

That meant Mashatile and Parks Tau — he returns to his previous posting of cooperative governance deputy minister — took the spots of Tshilidzi Munyai and Matshidiso Mfikoe, who resigned as ANC MPs so the Gauteng legislature lists could be amended. 

Ex-KwaZulu-Natal premier and MEC Sihle Zikalala, the incoming public works minister, took the spot on the parliamentary benches vacated by Mervyn Dirks. 

The Limpopo legislature’s elected public representatives list was amended after ANC MP Masefako Dikgale resigned, so the list could accommodate Maropene Ramokgopa as a legislator, and now incoming performance, monitoring and evaluation minister. 

For Godongwana to top the Eastern Cape legislature lists, Mike Basopu resigned as MP, and ANC MP Linda Moss did the same in the Western Cape so the lists could be amended to accommodate Patel. 

Ramaphosa, in Monday’s televised announcement of the reshuffled executive, said the amount of time it’s taken to finalise this, “is the result of a number of processes that needed to be followed, some of which relate to the requirements of the Constitution relating to the appointment of members of the national executive”. 

Section 91(2) of the Constitution on appointing a Cabinet is clear and simple: “The President appoints the deputy president and ministers, assigns them their powers and functions, and may dismiss them.” 

But ANC criteria and dynamics are something else — from consultations with Tripartite Alliance partners Cosatu and the South African Communist Party, the ANC leagues for women, veterans and youth, and others. Then the ticking-off of gender, youth and geographical requirements. And so it’s really more about the ANC factions and their appeasement and Byzantine manoeuvrings. 

The massaging, if not outright manipulation of the national legislature, and its processes, to pave the way for this 6 March reshuffle will come back to haunt Parliament and the provincial legislatures.  

Curiously, the line on Mbalula has been that he doesn’t have to resign, as his Cabinet term ends in the reshuffle. However, he still has to resign as MP — and now without a resignation from Cabinet, he’s effectively in the same position as ditched colleagues Sisulu, Mthethwa and Nkoana-Mashabane. 

But Parliament’s back benches have provided a pool of deputy ministers. They include not only the two new Presidency deputy ministers, but also ANC MP Judith Tshabalala as deputy in water and sanitation alongside David Mahlobo who remains in place, and Bernice Swarts as public works deputy, while Dipuo Peters, a one-time energy minister, returns to the executive as deputy in the small business development portfolio. 

On Monday evening, Ramaphosa said he was confident this was his team to resolve South Africa’s challenges: rotational power cuts, unemployment, poverty, high cost of living, crime and corruption. 

“I have instructed both new and existing members of Cabinet to act with speed and urgency to address the challenges that our country faces. I expect them to fulfil their tasks with rigour and dedication, to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to corruption wherever it exists, and to place the interests of the people of South Africa foremost,” said Ramaphosa. 

Initial political and business reactions to the announcement were tepid. How this new Cabinet fares, time will tell — at latest, the 2024 elections. DM


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