Cyril Ramaphosa announced his new cabinet on Monday night, firing a total of 10 minister and shuffling others around to different portfolios. Ramaphosa was stuck in a balancing act of ridding the government of corruption, strengthening his team and meeting the expectations of his supporters. He also had the task of reinforcing unity within the ANC, eliminating those who negotiated with the Guptas.
He said that ministry numbers and sizes would remain the same until a review has taken place. The most controversial appointment of all is that of Deputy president, David Mabuza, who was fired as Education MEC by Mathews Phosa in the 1990s for inflating matric results in Mpumalanga. His name has also been brought up and allegedly link to a few political assassinations in Mpumalanga but was never officially charged with the crime. This has the public questioning his credibility and the reason behind his appointment as deputy.
The EFF openly expressed their discord with the decisions made by Ramaphosa, with EFF spokesperson, Mbuiseni Ndlozi, saying: "No one, with the best interests of South Africa today, could have Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane [and] Bathabile Dlamini as Cabinet members and ministers." Dlamini was condemned last year for her errors with regards to the social grants system but, instead of being punished, she had been promoted – which raises concerns among EFF members. Gigaba is also a well-known culprit of handing over state institutions to the Guptas. The EFF are under the impression that Ramaphosa has submitted to pressure within the ANC.
The civil society and the ANC’s alliance partners also expressed their disappointment in the decision to retain certain ministers who underperformed in their relevant profiles in 2017, Cosatu spokesperson commented on the shuffle saying: “We remain very uncomfortable with the recycling of Cabinet ministers though; it does not make sense for those ministers accused of corruption to be shifted around the Cabinet, instead of being fired.”
The DA also disapproved of Mabuza's appointment of Deputy, saying that it contradicts Ramaphosa's promise to fight corruption. Maimane went as far as to say: "Ramaphosa’s new cabinet illustrated that the problem in South Africa lay with the ANC itself and the ministers who make up Ramaphosa’s "compromised and partially captured cabinet" show that "it’s about the ANC and connected cadres first, and the interests of South Africa second".
On the other hand, the ANC was delighted with the changes that Ramaphosa made, viewing it as a strong foundation for building unity between the ANC and parliament. Spokesperson Pule Mabe said: “We’re quite happy that there is a mix of skills being brought up to be able to reinforce the work of the national executive and allow the ANC to ready itself going into 2019 elections.”
Business Leadership South Africa commented, saying that it was a step in the right direction towards boosting the economy and creating new jobs to alleviate the problem of youth unemployment.
Many political analysts have speculated, resulting in a mixed bag of reactions.