40 cabinet members could get the chop: report

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to cut his cabinet from 72 ministers and deputy ministers to just 32, according to the City Press.

The president is expected to first announce and explain the new structure of cabinet, before announcing his new team.

The size of South Africa’s cabinet has ballooned over the years, from 50 members under former president Thabo Mbeki, to 72 members under Jacob Zuma.

It is an outlier among other countries with the same population, as well as internationally, where the average cabinet is around 28 members.

According to the City Press, there is resistance from within the ANC to such a deep cut, as it had been expected that the president would keep 25 full ministries (50 members), and only get rid of superfluous deputy minister roles.

There has reportedly been lobbying within the party to not make as big a cut.

Deputy dilemma

On top of push-back from within the ANC on cutting his cabinet, there are also reports that the president is struggling to pin down a deputy president, after David Mabuza’s reappointment to the post was cast into doubt on Wednesday (22 May), when he asked to delay his swearing-in as a lawmaker.

Mabuza asked to delay the process “in light of a report by the ANC Integrity Commission in which he is alleged to have prejudiced the integrity of the ANC and brought the organisation into disrepute,” Ramaphosa said in a statement.

The Sunday Times reports that Mabuza appeared before the party’s integrity commission on Friday in an effort to clear his name ahead of Ramaphosa’s cabinet announcement.

A source told the paper that one of the biggest strikes against Mabuza is an allegation that he has been linked to dozens of political killings whilst serving as the ANC’s strongman leader in Mpumalanga.

Party insiders also told the paper that Mabuza is reluctant to return to the role as he holds no real power as deputy-president, and may instead use his position in the union buildings to mount a presidential bid against Ramaphosa.

The City Press, meanwhile, reported that Mabuza was told by the Integrity Committee that it could not help him, because the list was doctored, and his name was added by Luthuli House after it was delivered by the committee.

The matter is expected to head to a special meeting within the ANC’s top six.

Possible candidates

Under the constitution, the deputy president must be selected from among the ranks of the 400 lawmakers, meaning Mabuza could be disqualified if he doesn’t clear his name.

Should Mabuza not be elected as deputy-president, Ramaphosa is likely to appoint a female as his deputy, according to ANC sources.

Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Dlamini-Zuma stood as a main opponent in the most recent ANC presidential election, only narrowly missing out on victory by a slim margin.

Her election to deputy-president may be seen as a move by Ramaphosa to appease some ANC factions, including the Women’s League.

Pandor has held a number of cabinet positions including roles as minister of Home Affairs and minister of Science and Technology.

She served as Ramaphosa’s original choice for deputy president at Nasrec, but lost out to Mabuza during the last ANC meeting.

Read: Ramaphosa’s cabinet wishlist

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40 cabinet members could get the chop: report