On Thursday afternoon, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced changes to his cabinet, but they were far from sweeping ones.
Siyabonga Cwele, from telecommunications, moved to home affairs to replace Malusi Gigaba, who resigned under a cloud of controversy this month. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, Cwele’s deputy, was named the new minister of communications, while former Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane moved to environmental affairs, replacing Edna Molewa, who passed away in September. The ministries of communications and of telecommunications and postal services merged into one.
It was certainly not the changes many had anticipated. How on earth underperforming ministers Mokonyane and Minister of Women in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini, kept their jobs is beyond us.
Dlamini is under fire for her role in the Social Security Agency of SA debacle where they almost failed to pay out pensions. She was also found to have possibly lied under oath when dealing with that fiasco in 2017 as social development minister. Mokonyane has an awful record at the department of water and sanitation.
Opposition parties and critics were quick to pounce on the president, saying he once again put the ANC first, and the country last.
Cosatu got it spot on in their criticism of Ramaphosa. “A reshuffle that leaves people like Dlamini and Mokonyane inside his own executive is not really going to solve much if you consider the fact that these people are still surrounded by scandals, they will remain an albatross around his neck,” said Cosatu’s Sizwe Pamla.
Ramaphosa finds himself in a catch-22 situation. Had he acted on Mokonyane and Dlamini, he no doubt would have faced a backlash from the ANC Women’s League, as both have powerful links with the organisation. He would also have to deal with angering the Jacob Zuma camp, and deal with that fall-out with the 2019 elections around the corner.
Ramaphosa’s juggling act is of no concern to many South Africans. Over to you, Mr President.