‘Bloated cabinet reflects voters’ will’

Published Jul 5, 2024


Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has defended the bloated executive announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, saying the electorate chose the election outcome that resulted in the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Addressing the media on Thursday, Ntshavheni said it was no longer possible for Ramaphosa to fulfil the undertaking he previously made to reduce the number of portfolios in the Cabinet.

“In simple terms, the size of the national executive is a result of our electoral outcome, with the need to be inclusive. In addition, the constitution of the national executive had to be cognisant of other national interests such as demographics, geographic spread, youth and gender representation,” she said.

Ntshavheni would not be drawn into commenting on the estimated cost of the Cabinet. She, however, stated that it cost R1 billion a year to move ministers and directors-general to attend portfolio committees in Cape Town.

“The electorate chose an outcome that landed us in a GNU and there is a need for inclusivity, so the electorate will also have to accept the responsibility that it is what they gave us.”

Ntshavheni also said they were given lemons to make lemonade with a cost that must be carried.

“It’s a new normal,” she said.

“South Africans will have to decide again in 2026 with local government elections and also in 2029 with national and provincial elections whether they want an outcome that does not have an outright winner or whether they are happy with this outcome of collective leadership, with its advantages and disadvantages,” she added.

Explaining how the GNU will operate, Ntshavheni said Ramaphosa as the head of the national executive exercised the executive authority “together with” the other members of the Cabinet.

“The president determines the way and procedures by which they work together, including leaving certain matters or kinds of matters to be dealt with by a single member of the Cabinet. Therefore, if a matter is not a routine, departmentally specific matter or function it must first be referred to the Cabinet, as must all matters that the Cabinet itself has decided should come to it.”

Ntshavheni said the government’s priorities and programme of action were articulated in the medium-term strategic framework, which was guided by the election manifesto of the parties in the GNU.

“The Forum of South Africa Directors-General (Fosad), which is chaired by the director-general in the Presidency, has undertaken the work of analysing the manifestos of parties to the GNU and will submit a proposal for consideration and adoption at the Cabinet lekgotla scheduled for Thursday and Friday, July 11 and 12.

“The adopted programme of action will be announced by the President at the Opening of Parliament on Thursday, July 18.”

Ntshavheni said the priorities of the seventh administration would be adopted at the scheduled lekgotla.

“Ministers will be using this period now and the lekgotla to receive briefings from the departments and consult on how to shape the direction of the discussions at the lekgotla,” she said.

She also said if ministers felt they have to drive a particular priority from their party’s manifesto, they must do so through their DGs and review what was proposed in the documents.

“The DGs are already preparing. They have done analysis. They will present at lekgotla.”

Ntshavheni also said Ramaphosa would make a proclamation regarding the state owned entities that were moved to the Presidency after he closed down the Public Enterprises Department.

“I don’t want to speculate how things will run. He made an announcement that the DPE is to close down.

That function will go to the Presidency. Allow that that process to be clarified and at lekgotla it will be articulated and we will brief in detail,” she said.

Cape Times