🔒 How world sees SA: Ramaphosa set to replace his deputy in SA cabinet

By S’thembile Cele and Paul Vecchiatto of Bloomberg

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is contemplating changes to his cabinet as public anger mounts over record power outages, shoddy government services, rampant poverty and high unemployment, with his deputy David Mabuza among those in danger of losing their jobs. 

The president needs to replace Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who is taking up a full-time post as secretary-general of the governing African National Congress, and Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who joined the World Bank last year. He is contemplating whether to just fill those posts and two deputy minister positions that are vacant, or substantively overhaul his executive.

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Mbalula said he will resign before the end of next month, with the ANC guiding him on the exact timing. How the changes to the executive will be made public “depends on whether it will be a full reshuffle of cabinet or just patching up, done through a statement,” he told reporters at a meeting of an ANC National Executive Committee last week. 

Ramaphosa, 70, comfortably won a second term as leader of the ANC late last year and his allies have since secured most posts in the NEC and other top party leadership structures. That gives him more scope to remove under-performing or incompetent ministers from his executive and ensure it unites behind his plans to tackle the nation’s energy crisis and turn the struggling economy around ahead of elections scheduled for next year.   

“With a cabinet reshuffle being imminent, Business Leadership South Africa hopes leaders are appointed who are fully committed, without ideological constraints, to resolving the problems that are holding up progress,” Busi Mavuso, the lobby group’s chief executive officer, said in a statement on Monday. 

While it has been widely speculated that Ramaphosa could announce a cabinet reshuffle before his Feb. 9 annual state-of-the-nation address, the president appears in no hurry, according to two senior party members, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to comment. The government’s financial year ends March 31, and Ramaphosa may retain his current executive until then to allow them to complete and sign off on programs they initiated, one of the people said. 

Mabuza, who was replaced as the ANC’s deputy leader by Paul Mashatile in December, has offered to resign as deputy president, according to his office. Ramaphosa could appoint any member of the National Assembly to the post, although Mashatile is the clear frontrunner.

The president has also faced calls to fire Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for failing to address the rolling blackouts that can last for as long as 10 hours a day. He may also consider replacing Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who publicly criticized the president last year, and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who called for his resignation over a scandal surrounding the theft of cash from his game farm.  

Newcomers to the cabinet could include Parks Tau, a former mayor of Johannesburg, and Sihle Zikalala, an ex-premier of the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province, who are set to be appointed to parliament. Nonceba Mhlauli, a leader of the ANC’s youth league, may also make the cut. 

Ramaphosa has declined to comment on any changes prior to an official announcement. 

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