More vital cabinet changes than Zuptoid compromises

CAPE TOWN — The DA has predictably put the worst possible spin on the ruling party’s cabinet reshuffle, but a characterisation of David Mabuza’s appointment as Deputy President as ‘a fatal compromise,’ seems a bit emotive. Shades of Ramaphobia, methinks, especially when you look at all six new cabinet appointments and collectively weigh their impact on President Ramaphosa’s new dispensation and avowed reformation. Yes, the bristles have missed a few cabinet Zuptoids, but that’s realpolitik at work. We surely didn’t think Cyril’s narrow Nasrec victory in December signalled lasting truth and reconciliation in the ANC. Like apartheid, the divisions are deep and will heal slowly. Cyril, the arch negotiator, has to avoid deepening party ructions which would otherwise result in exactly what the DA is predicting. Mabuza, no matter how shaky his record, described by the DA as involving ‘corruption and blatant thuggery,” cannot on his own restore the Zuptoid fortunes, nor bring about the collapse of the ANC. Pravin Gordhan, Nhanhla Nene, Lindiwe Sisulu and Gwede Mantashe will collectively see to that. To check where they’ve ended up and to judge for yourself how our new, albeit still-oversized cabinet stacks up, read on. The trimming will surely come, probably by legal hook of disposable Zuptoid crooks.

By Mike Cohen, Sam Mkokeli and Paul Vecchiatto

(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s newly elected president, Cyril Ramaphosa, named a new cabinet on Monday, replacing some of his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s most ineffectual ministers and ardent supporters with his own loyalists from the ruling African National Congress.

These are some of his key appointments:

Deputy President: David Mabuza
Cyril Ramaphosa embraces David Mabuza during the 54th national conference of the ANC in Johannesburg on December 18, 2017. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

A former schoolteacher, Mabuza has served as premier of the eastern Mpumalanga province since 2009. He was elected as the ANC’s deputy president at a party conference in December after helping Ramaphosa win the top party post. Widely known by his initials DD, Mabuza has been accused of helping to rig state tenders and having his opponents in Mpumalanga silenced — accusations he has denied. He fills a post previously occupied by Ramaphosa.

Finance Minister: Nhlanhla Nene
Nhlanhla Nene, South Africa’s newly-elected finance minister, poses for a photograph.

Nene served as deputy finance minister before taking over from Pravin Gordhan as finance chief in 2014. He won the respect of investors before Zuma fired him in December 2015 and appointed little-known lawmaker Des van Rooyen to the post — a move that sparked a sell-off in the rand and nation’s bonds. Nene then quit as a lawmaker and took up a position on the board of fund manager Allan Gray, became an adviser to Thebe Investment and served as temporary head of the University of Witwatersrand’s Business School. He takes over the portfolio from Malusi Gigaba, who was reappointed to his previous post as home affairs minister.

Minister of International Relations: Lindiwe Sisulu
Lindiwe Sisulu delivers an address during the Special Official Memorial Service for Mr Hermanus Gabriel Loots in Johannesburg. (Photo: GCIS)

A former housing minister, Sisulu takes over a post previously occupied by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who was named minister of rural development and land reform. Sisulu was Ramaphosa’s running mate in the ANC’s internal elections in December but lost the contest for the No. 2 party post to Mabuza. The daughter of the late ANC luminary Walter Sisulu, who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela, she trained as a teacher and previously served as minister of defense and military veterans, intelligence and public service and administration.

Public Enterprises Minister: Pravin Gordhan
Pravin Gordhan looks on during a news conference in Pretoria on March 31, 2017.  Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Gordhan will oversee six of the largest state companies, including power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. and port and freight rail operator Transnet SOC Ltd. Some of the entities have been at the center of a graft scandal implicating members of the Gupta family who are in business with one of Zuma’s sons, and Gordhan will need to ensure they overhaul their management and financial controls. Gordhan, who trained as a pharmacist, headed the national tax agency before serving as finance minister from 2009 to 2014. He was reappointed to the post in 2015, four days after Zuma’s decision to replace Nene sparked market upheaval, but was fired and succeeded by Gigaba in March after feuding with his boss. Gordhan continued to serve as a lawmaker and became one of Zuma’s most outspoken critics. He takes over his current post from Lynne Brown, who was dropped from the cabinet.

Mineral Resources Minister: Gwede Mantashe
Gwede Mantashe speaks during the 54th national conference of the ANC in Johannesburg on December 17, 2017. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Mantashe served for a decade as the ANC’s secretary-general before being elected as party chairman in December. He started his career as a miner, joined the National Union of Mineworkers and rose through its ranks to become its secretary-general. He also became a member of the South African Communist Party, which is in an alliance with the ANC, and served as its chairman until 2012. He’s seen as a close ally of Ramaphosa. He succeeds Mosebenzi Zwane, who was omitted from the cabinet.

Energy Minister: Jeff Radebe
Minister Jeff Radebe hosts breakfast meeting with business leaders on September 1, 2017.

Radebe studied law and is South Africa’s longest-serving cabinet minister. He’s held five portfolios since apartheid ended in 1994: public works, public enterprises, transport, justice and minister in the presidency. He entered the race to become ANC leader in December but failed to secure nomination. He takes over from David Mahlobo, who also lost his ministerial post.