President Cyril Ramaphosa could not remove Minister for Women in the Presidency Bathabile Dlamini because he still fears infuriating the strong hand of Jacob Zuma, KwaZulu-Natal and the entire Zuma camp, an expert has said.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga said there was no substantial reason for Ramaphosa to keep Dlamini in his Cabinet, except that he was “worried because the balance of forces were still heavily against him in the ANC”.
He said Ramaphosa’s reason for opposing the DA’s high court application to have Dlamini axed made no sense because he should have dismissed her himself if he was to still defend the principle of his presidential prerogative to appoint and fire ministers.
In a mini Cabinet reshuffle yesterday, Ramaphosa announced Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams as minister of telecommunications and moved Siyabonga Cwele to home affairs, while Nomvula Mokonyane was appointed as minister of environmental affairs.
Cwele’s former telecommunications and Mokonyane’s former communications departments were merged under Ndabeni-Abrahams.
The president shocked almost everyone when he failed to remove Dlamini, who was highly anticipated to be axed.
Social media was abuzz with reports that Ramaphosa was warned by the Zuma camp that, should he dismiss Dlamini, he “would see flames”.
The DA has applied to the high court, seeking that the appointments of both Dlamini and former home affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba be declared unconstitutional and invalid because they had lied under oath.
The ruling ANC welcomed the Cabinet reshuffle, saying it showed Ramaphosa’s determination to continue on the path of hope and renewal.
“The appointment of the three ministers demonstrates commitment both in deeds and in action to intergenerational mix and experience,” the ANC said.
In his reaction to the Cabinet announcement, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said while his party welcomed Ramaphosa’s commitment to making the Cabinet more capable, he missed a second opportunity to fire “delinquent ministers” such as Dlamini and Mokonyane and to cut down the size of his bloated executive.
Last night, the Presidency confirmed that Ramaphosa had decided to oppose the DA high court application for Dlamini’s axing on the basis that her appointment was unconstitutional and invalid.
He would do so to defend the principle of his power to appoint and dismiss ministers but not on the merits of the matter before the court.