It’s probably unfair to say the ANC was cleaning house given that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s shake-up started on May 29 with the announcement of his new Cabinet.
However, a pending near 50% cut in salary for former ministers – reduced to backbenchers – may have a lot to do with it.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said: “This really is all about the mechanics of the pension benefits from parliament.”
Silke noted that many people were critical of the pension benefits accrued to ex-ministers who were now quitting.
In terms of a Government Gazette, issued in December, ministers would pocket more than R2.4 million per year, while ordinary members of parliament earn less than a chief magistrate at a little over R1.1 million a year.
“The system of benefits within the parliamentary rulebook makes provision for those who were former Cabinet minsters to claim pensions on the basis of the more elevated position, and as I understand it they have a cut-off date by which they have to make a choice in the matter,” Silke said. “There’s no political motivation behind this except certainly in the case of Bathabile Dlamini, she didn’t leave quietly.”
- Ex-tourism minister Derek Hanekom’s surprise resignation on Monday joined that of Dlamini, former minister of women, who exited with less grace in a barely coherent five-page statement defending her legacy. Hanekom, a staunch Ramaphosa supporter, announced on Twitter that he was ready to begin his “next chapter quite soon”. “But tourism will remain a passion and I’ll support it wherever I find myself in the next couple of weeks”;
- As human settlements minister, Nomaindia Mfeketo appeared to do her job with little fuss, her greatest “scandal” being placing the Housing Development Agency under administration for failing to do its work;
- Former sport and recreation minister Tokozile Xasa appeared to be a victim of circumstance in Ramaphosa’s downsizing of parliament, her greatest achievement being the all-out support for the Olympics 400m gold medallist Caster Semenya in her fight against the dehumanising IAAF test ruling;
- In the executive since 1994 Jeff Radebe, at his most powerful position as energy minister, failed to release an updated Integrated Resource Plan which details South Africa’s energy plan;
- Former state security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba joined the list of ex-Cabinet ministers, leaving in her wake a spy agency more focused on political machinations than on crime threats;
- Ministers Susan “Kill the Bastards” Shabangu and Siyabonga “I didn’t know my wife was a drug dealer” Cwele (also a former state security minister) are unlikely to be missed; and
- Nomvula Mokonyane, who almost collapsed the department of water affairs, has also left parliament before her R2.4 million salary was reduced to just more than R1.8 million.
With only 12 people making it from 2018 into Ramaphosa’s Cabinet, South Africans can expect more resignations as the State of the Nation address on June 20 looms.