Ramaphosa’s big plans to shake up government

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a special national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the ANC’s top members. The meeting, which is scheduled for Monday (13 May), will likely focus on Ramaphosa’s new cabinet for his upcoming presidential term.

“Cabinet will be cut to below 30 positions,” said Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s head of elections and a former police minister, said in an interview on Thursday. “A study and a report has been done by the ANC and so it will be a reality,” he said.

According to the City Press, Ramaphosa’s cabinet is set to be cut down to 25 positions, from 35 now. The president is also said to be getting rid of most deputy minister positions, with only a few remaining in key portfolios.

The president will face a tough time balancing the needs of the country, while also juggling the factions within the ANC, analysts said.

This includes removing those implicated in wrongdoing, but not appear to be targeting former president Jacob Zuma’s allies only. There will also be a challenge introducing new blood, keeping veterans, and keeping gender diversity.

The Sunday Times reports that the party’s integrity commission has identified 22 candidates not suitable to represent the ANC in parliament, as they are implicated in corruption and state capture.

The red-flagged candidates could be asked to step aside or ordered off the list.

While it is not known how many people the integrity commission recommended be removed, candidates who have previously been red-flagged include:

  • Nomvula Mokonyane – minister of environmental affairs;
  • Bathabile Dlamini – minister of women in the presidency;
  • Malusi Gigaba – former minister of finance.

Ramaphosa is also expected to confront secretary-general Ace Magashule for the perceived damage he caused the party in the run-up to the elections.

Who is likely staying?

The Sunday Times reports that Ramaphosa is set to introduce a number of fresh faces to his executive.

These include the head of the ANC’s political school, David Masondo, and former ANC Youth League leader Ronald Lamola.

Other younger faces expected to form the core of the new cabinet include:

  • Zizi Kodwa – spokesperson and head of presidency;
  • Stella Ndabeni Abrahams – minister of communications;
  • Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane – minister of science and technology.

Finance minister, Tito Mboweni, has indicated that he plans to remain in his post for at least another year and it is also expected that Ramaphosa will for now retain Pravin Gordhan as minister of public enterprises.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, ANC insiders said Ebrahim Patel and Derek Hanekom are also expected to be kept on as part of Ramaphosa’s investment team.

Ramaphosa’s mandate

The ANC managed to secure a solid majority in the national election, receiving 57.5% of the vote.

While the party’s majority is secure, it does represent the worst performance for the ANC since the dawn of democracy, and follows a trend of declining support over the past 25 years.

Ahead of the elections, economists and analysts pegged 60% of the vote as being the level where Ramaphosa would secure a mandate to change things within government as he sees fit.

This was level, they said, that the ANC would be unable to use declining support as an excuse to oppose the president’s decisions.

At a more middling results (55%), analysts predicted a rockier time for the president, with this being the level where divisions within the party – the factions of various interests – would likely butt heads over policies, and the party would “bumble along” as it had been doing for a number of years.

However, and Intellidex poll of analysts showed there was some scepticism around the 60% level quoted, with many doubting that a ‘mandate-level’ of support even exists.

Speaking in a post-election interview, the ANC’s head of elections Fikile Mbalula said that the party was very happy with the outcome of the elections, adding that it could have been very worse had it not been for president Ramaphosa as the face of the party.

Mbalula said that the party fully supports Ramaphosa, and the result has given him the mandate to make the changes he needs to push the party forward.

Read: Ramaphosa to cut cabinet to fewer than 30 ministers: ANC official

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Ramaphosa’s big plans to shake up government