South Africans welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet shakeup this week and celebrated Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and Pravin Gordhan as public enterprises minister in the hopes of strengthening the economy.
But here are five glaring reasons why this Cabinet is socially still so wrong:
- Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini – in the face of the recent social grants debacle – retained a Cabinet position as minister of women.
It is most important to point out here that Dlamini, as ANC Women’s League president, defended former deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana’s actions when he assaulted two women in a nightclub last year. How does someone who makes such utterances in defence of abuse occupy such a position?
How can someone who has publicly been lambasted for not conducting her duties correctly ever be suitable for an integral role empowering women?
- Appointing former police commissioner Bheki Cele as minister of police. Cele was fired from his original position by then president Jacob Zuma for the dishonest role he played in awarding a R1.7 billion contract for police accommodation.
Most importantly Cele, during his tenure as police commissioner, became known for his maverick tactics and more infamously his 2009 call for police to “shoot to kill”. That resulted in the subsequent heavy-handed, trigger-happy behaviour adopted by police.
Lest we forget the death of Cope activist Andries Tatane, who died at the hands of police without provocation, and the Marikana massacre where 34 striking miners were shot dead by police.
I once quoted Cele saying “… If you take an eye from us, we will take an eye from you … If you take a tooth from us, we will take a tooth from you … There is no New Testament in South African policing”. Go figure.
- Former finance minister Malusi Gigaba back to his old portfolio as home affairs head. He is known for links to state capture and had, during his time at home affairs, overseen the citizenship of the now-on-the-run Guptas.
State capture and corruption, according to economists, largely resulted in a 1% VAT increase to 15% – to make up for a R50.8 billion shortfall. The increase will directly impact on the poor and marginalised, plunging them into even further dire straits.
- Former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who now heads up the vital communications ministry. Mokonyane was harshly criticised during service delivery protests for not properly handling her previous department.
During her time as Gauteng premier, Mokonyane, known for her sharp tongue, once told the protesting community of Bekkersdal that the ANC did not want their “dirty votes”. Having her as communications minister is going to be very interesting …
- Appointing Thulas “Nkandla” Nxesi back to public works. Remember, it was Nxesi who was at the helm when the Nkandla matter came to the fore. A court once ordered that he be among the ministers reprimanded for it.
This department, which is the custodian of the country’s assets, should ensure only a person adequate enough to manage state resources be appointed.