CAPE TOWN — Call them the not-so-Secret Seven. Collectively they may also be guilty of many of the seven deadly sins – and if they remain in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet it will be instructive. That would signal that he’s not quite as politically strong as we’d like him to be. So far, everything he’s done suggests the opposite. The sharks who once fed on rich sardine shoals in turbid, shallow moral waters, are now in deep, clear open water. For now, this particular lot is still top of the food chain, with teeth rendered ragged by tearing and ripping their portfolios apart. Their complacency will have turned to nervous, ingratiating smiles whenever Cyril swims anywhere near. So, enough teasing; here they are – the likely losers in SA’s imminent cabinet shake-up. – Chris Bateman
(Bloomberg) — Cyril Ramaphosa was appointed South Africa’s president on Thursday, just hours after Jacob Zuma resigned from the post under pressure from the ruling African National Congress. The power shift will be the precursor to a cabinet shakeup, with several Zuma appointees who’ve proved ineffectual or been implicated in graft likely to lose their jobs.
Those most at risk of being fired include:
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane
Appointed to his post in 2015, Zwane has been at loggerheads with the mining industry over planned changes to black ownership laws that have caused investment to slow to a trickle. He’s also been linked to members of the Gupta family, who are in business with Zuma’s son and been accused of looting billions of rand by the state. The nation’s graft ombudsman said in a report that Zwane helped a company the Guptas controlled buy a coal mine from Glencore Plc, and he has been linked to a dairy project that allegedly directed more than 200 million rand ($17 million) in state funds to their accounts. Zwane, Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.
Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi
In her previous post as communications minister, Muthambi was accused by lawmakers of interfering in appointments at the state broadcaster and angered the ANC by setting policies for the pay-television industry that contradicted those agreed upon by the ruling party. In her current job, she’s been responsible for overseeing wage talks with civil servants, but a pay deal has remained elusive thus far.
Cooperative Governance Minister David van Rooyen
Van Rooyen was appointed finance minister in late 2015, after Zuma fired the respected Nhlanhla Nene from the post, but was replaced four days later after the rand and nation’s bond’s nosedived. The graft ombudsman alleged that he’d had questionable dealings with members of the Gupta family, an allegation he denied, and the he lied to parliament about his dealings with the family.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini
Dlamini failed to comply with a 2014 court order to find a distributor to pay out welfare grants to replace Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc., whose contract was ruled invalid. It took an application to the Constitutional Court by a human rights organization to ensure that more than 17 million people continued to get their monthly pension, disability and child-grant payments, and the intervention of the National Treasury and Presidency to ensure the South African Post Office will take over the payments. While Dlamini’s position as head of the ANC’s women’s league and membership of the party’s powerful National Working Committee may make it difficult for Ramaphosa to fire her from the cabinet, she may be demoted to a lesser position.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown
Brown is responsible for overseeing South Africa’s biggest state-owned companies that have been at the center of the alleged looting spree by the Guptas and their allies. While she insists she wasn’t involved in operational matters and had no knowledge of wrongdoing, her critics accuse her of facilitating and overlooking inappropriate board appointments and failing to take appropriate action against implicated company officials.
State Security Minister Bongani Bongo
Prior to being appointed to his post in October last year, Bongo was a little-known lawmaker with no experience of state intelligence. He’s been one of Zuma’s staunchest defenders through a series of scandals.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane
Another close Zuma ally, Mokonyane has been accused by opposition parties of mismanaging her department’s budget to the point of bankruptcy. She’s also been criticized for failing to ensure an adequate supply of water to Cape Town, the second-largest city, where there’s a risk of the taps running dry in May.