Ramaphosa set to wield axe with cabinet reshuffle

Johannesburg – Former Gauteng premier David Makhura is tipped to become the new minister in the presidency when President Cyril Ramaphosa reshuffles his Cabinet after winning a second term during the ANC conference in December.

Ramaphosa is expected to announce his new Cabinet upon his return from the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Upon Ramaphosa’s return from Davos, the 80-strong newly elected National Executive Committee (NEC) will meet to discuss, among others, names of those who would be recommended for ministerial positions.

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An NEC member, who asked not to be named because he isn’t allowed to speak to the media, said: “Ramaphosa is expected to appoint committed men and women to be ministers and not his cronies and proxies from his funders if he wants to be taken seriously and finish his second term.

“Remember, the 2024 elections are around the corner and the people of South Africa are gatvol of potholes, load shedding and no service delivery.”

Three independent sources confirmed that Makhura has been tipped to become the new minister in the Presidency and the current minister, Mondi Gungubele, is likely not to get a Cabinet post “after a series of blunders that irritated the president and most members of the ANC”.

“For starters, Mondi orchestrated the downfall of Paul Mashatile before the elective conference in December and Paul was elected as the deputy president of the party and probably that of the country as well,” another NEC member, who asked to remain anonymous, said yesterday.

Ramaphosa’s allies said the president hoped Makhura would have been nominated from the floor at the conference for one of the top seven positions but it never happened. Makhura was forced to resign as Gauteng premier in October and was replaced by Panyaza Lesufi.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is being lobbied to accept not being in the new Cabinet but to stay at home because of his ill health. Most ANC members were angered when Gordhan arrived at the ANC conference in December and expected to be elected onto the NEC while he allegedly had not renewed his membership.

“Can you imagine Pravin failed to pay for his ANC membership for just R20 but still expect us to take him seriously as a member of the party?” the NEC member said.

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The NEC member said Gordhan had been “told to make life easier for Ramaphosa by declining any Cabinet nomination and resigning from Parliament to concentrate on his health”.

If Gordhan leaves the Cabinet, he will leave behind State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) like Eskom, SAA and Denel that are falling apart on his watch.

“If Pravin goes, it would be good riddance. The man has been so arrogant and pompous but very useless as a minister,” another NEC member, who also asked not to be named, said.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is expected to get the chop after she defied the party line and voted in favour of a Section 89 independent panel recommendation which would have paved the way for Ramaphosa to be impeached following the Phala Phala farm scandal. US dollars were stolen from the president’s farm and the matter wasn’t reported to the police.

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Dlamini Zuma also challenged Ramaphosa during the 2017 elective conference and she was labelled by his allies as one of the black sheep in his Cabinet.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who did not attend the parliamentary voting process, is also expected to be axed “for being a thorn in Ramaphosa’s flesh”.

Sisulu also tried to challenge Ramaphosa during the last elective conference but her campaign didn’t get far, and failed to meet the margin needed when she was nominated from the floor. Phumulo Masaulle, who is Gordhan’s deputy but supported Ramaphosa’s rival, Zweli Mkhize, at the conference in December, is also facing the chop.

Noticeable cabinet minister positions to be filled include Public Service and Administration which was left vacant when Ayanda Dlodlo joined the World Bank. And this post, according to the ANC policy, must be filled by a woman minister and former deputy minister of communications, Pinky Kekana is tipped for this position.

However, others are calling for Gungubele to be appointed here and Kekana to replace Sisulu at the Department of Tourism.

Another soon-to-be vacant position is that of transport minister after Fikile Mbalula was elected as secretary general of the ANC in December which is a full-time job. It isn’t yet clear who is likely to take over the troubled transport department as a minister.

But the elephant in the room would be the position of the deputy president of the country after David Mabuza declined any nomination in December and his former friend, Mashatile, was elected as the deputy president of the ANC.

“Paul can’t be appointed as the deputy president of the country during the reshuffle because he isn’t yet a member of Parliament because the law is clear that the president must select the deputy from members of Parliament. Paul has to wait a bit longer if any amicable solution is reached about DD’s future.

Remember, Cyril owes it to DD for being the president of the country right now because the ‘Cat’ surprised everyone in 2017 by going with Ramaphosa at the 11th hour while everyone expected him to be with Nkosazana.

Ramaphosa and DD had a serious fallout after Jackson Mthembu passed away but we now understand that they have kissed and made up over the festive season,” said an NEC member.

ANC SG, Fikile Mbalula, on Saturday refused to discuss issues surrounding the cabinet reshuffle which he admitted was imminent.

“The cabinet appointments are the prerogative of the president in consultation with NEC and it is strictly confidential.”

Mbalula, who is the outgoing transport minister, said the ANC lekgotla will start on Sunday to Monday and that “the cabinet reshuffle isn’t on the agenda for now.”

“If the matter arises, we will deal with it accordingly,” he added.

He said next Thursday would be the indictment of the new NEC.

“The new NEC will meet Friday and Saturday to elect the new NWC (National Working Committee) then we are in business to hit the ground running,” he said.

Ramaphosa is also facing a tough decision when it comes to one of his allies and deputy minister of state security, Zizi Kodwa, who was implicated in the Zondo Commission for allegedly receiving payments from IT company, EOH, which was implicated in the state capture corruption.

Kodwa, who is often called Ramaphosa’s ice boy, is expected not to be chopped but moved and become the new minister of sports, arts and culture, replacing Nathi Mthetwa, who is expected to get the boot.

Trade and Industry minister, Ebrahim Patel, is also expected to be chopped. Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s name is being proposed for the position.

Former Kwazulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, who received the highest number of votes to be a member of the NEC, is also tipped to be a new minister. Zikalala, who is now the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, was forced to resign as the premier in 2022 after losing the ANC provincial chairmanship during the conference.

He is a skilled and experienced public servant and it is believed that Ramaphosa wants to take him out of the province.

“KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo are expected to be big winners in the new cabinet and they might also be a minister or deputy minister from North West as well and surprisingly, the people in the province are pushing for Supra Mahumapelo’s name to be considered.”

Mahumapelo is the former premier for North West who also didn’t vote along the party line during the Section 89 voting in Parliament in December.

Ramaphosa is expected to announce his new cabinet within days of returning from Davos and before his state of the nation address on February 9.

Read More: Ramaphosa set to wield axe with cabinet reshuffle

2023-01-16 01:55:04

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