SA eagerly awaits new cabinet announcement


South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – DAYS after President Cyril Ramaphosa ought to have announced his cabinet, South Africa still has no such cabinet structure in place.

Uncertainty rules supreme.

This is the outcome of a haggle over cabinet portfolios by partners in the awaited coalition government.

Ramaphosa was supposed to announce his cabinet on Sunday, but it never happened.

The re-elected Ramaphosa was sworn in last Wednesday.

As has the norm, Ramaphosa is supposed to have named his cabinet, but he cannot as his party did not attain a clear majority.

South Africans are still scratching their heads as to who will be the ministers. This is arguably the most anticipated cabinet announcement since the first one at the dawn of democracy in 1994.

As things stand, the partnership between Ramaphosa’s African National Congress (ANC) and the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) was in its honeymoon phase.

The phase seems to have ended now following the haggling for cabinet posts and the public fallout that has trailed it.

Earlier, reports emerged the DA was eyeing the position of deputy president, for its leader, John Steenhuisen, to deputise Ramaphosa.

This has ruffled the ANC as per tradition, the party’s deputy is the vice president in the cabinet. If ANC falls into such a demand, it risks suffering further factionalism, while it is arguably at its lowest point ever that has seen it lose its majority.

Paul Mashatile is party and country deputy president.

The latest setback to the announcement of the cabinet is the demand by the DA to be handed some 11 portfolios.

These are Mineral Resources and Energy; Transport; Trade, Industry and Competition.

DA also wants Public Works and Infrastructure; Higher Education, Science and Innovation.

The main opposition also wants Public Service and Administration as well as Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Justice and Home Affairs are also in the DA sights plus International Relations and Cooperation and Communications and Digital Technologies.

The fact that the letter making this request was leaked to the media before it reached the ANC has on its own peeved the ANC.

The letter is attributed to Hellen Zille, the federal chairperson of the DA.

ANC is of the view that this is negotiating in bad faith.

“The ANC notes with concern that some parties have been making outlandish and outrageous demands for specific Cabinet positions in the media,” Fikile Mbalula, ANC Secretary-General, lambasted.

He added, “Negotiating through leaking demands to the media is an act of bad faith and this practice will not help the cause of any party.”

Mbalula reminded it is only the president who has the final say on the appointment of his cabinet.

“The GNU cannot be held to ransom by any single party. The people need a government to be established sooner, rather than later.”

GNU is an acronym for government of national unity.

Ten parties have signed the so-called statement of intent, to pave the way for a coalition government and there are worries the DA is using its biggest opposition to flex its muscles.

Smaller parties are not impressed.

“The delay and fight is now about positions in (the) GNU. The delay is about who occupies which positions now,” said Gayton Mackenzie, leader of the smaller party Patriotic Alliance (PA).

PA wants the Home Affairs and Police portfolios.

Mackenzie has been launching attacks against Zille, highlighting how these parties in the proposed coalition government are strange bedfellows.

Cabinet appointments are crucial in a president’s reign. Ramaphosa first came to power in 2018 after the resignation of Jacob Zuma.

Zuma now heads the uMkhonto weSizwe party (MK), which boasts 58 members of parliament (MPs) that were sworn in on Tuesday, after boycotting the recent official ceremony citing vote rigging.

Ramaphosa’s first official term began in 2019. This is his last.

Ramaphosa’s first cabinet that year saw the number of ministers reduced from 36 to 28.

The administration concluded with 30 ministers after he appointed in his Presidency a new Electricity minister and made Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation a full ministry.

There is a possibility of the upcoming cabinet having more members, to accommodate officials from the various parties in what will be the coalition government.

This week, ANC officials have been quoted as saying Ramaphosa would announce the new cabinet “soon”.

Amid the situation without a cabinet, portfolios are run by Director Generals.

– CAJ News

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