Despite president Cyril Ramaphosa promising to address South Africa’s power crisis with urgency, he has delayed the announcement of a new minister of electricity and a shake-up of his cabinet by almost an entire month.
According to City Press, the president is now reportedly ready to finally announce his new cabinet, with Ramaphosa expected to address the nation tonight (Sunday, 5 March).
Sources speaking to the paper said the president would prioritise women in the coming reshuffle and that Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the president’s advisor on infrastructure, is said to be the favoured candidate for the position of the minister of electricity.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, told media this week that the cabinet reshuffle would happen in “a number of days”, saying that the process was layered and complex, necessitating wide consultation and for the president to “apply his mind”.
Many had expected the cabinet reshuffle before the State of the Nation Address on 9 February, but the president instead surprised the nation by announcing a new minister of electricity.
He said that the minister would be situated within the office of the presidency and would singularly focus on resolving load shedding and broader power crisis.
Given the deteriorating energy situation – and having declared a national state of disaster over the crisis – the expectation was then that immediate action would be taken and the relevant appointments made. However, it was then said that the president wanted to wait until the Budget Speech on 22 February to reshuffle.
When no announcement was made after the Budget Speech, the speculated deadline was then moved to “the end of the month (February)” – where, again, no announcements were made.
Amid growing frustration from politicians, businesses and the country at large, the president was widely expected to make an announcement this week – however, he fell ill, reportedly delaying things even further.
According to City Press, the reshuffle will finally happen today and could see many moving parts.
New ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile is widely expected to become the country’s new deputy president after David Mabuza resigned from the position this week. Mashatile was sworn in as an MP in February.
There are also three positions in the cabinet that need to be filled, including the Public Service and Administration and Transport portfolios, as well as the aforementioned Miniter of Electricity.
The president could also be moving ministers from underperforming portfolios like Police, or replacing older ministers who did not make it to the ANC’s National Executive Committee.
There has also been a push for Ramaphosa to remove ministers who have publicly moved against him, such as Lindiwe Sisulu and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, however, City Press reported that there had been no indication that these ministers’ positions are under threat.
Ramaphosa would also likely be making room for allies, such as former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala, ANC deputy secretary-general Maropene Ramokgopa and former Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau – all three of whom were sworn in as MPs in February.