Ramaphosa faces a delicate balancing act in drawing up his new GNU Cabinet

All eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa when he makes imminent Cabinet appointments. Picture: GCIS

All eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa when he makes imminent Cabinet appointments. Picture: GCIS

Published Jun 21, 2024


All eyes will be on President Cyril Ramaphosa when he makes imminent Cabinet appointments following consultation with political parties that form part of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Ramaphosa will have a few considerations to make, noting that, unlike in the past, he would not only have to consult the ANC alliance partners, the SACP and Cosatu.

Among his considerations will be the size of the incoming Cabinet, key ministerial positions to reserve for the ANC and a number of posts to assign to each of the parties, and the possible inclusion of non-MPs in his new executive.

Some parties and interest groups are lobbying him to trim the Cabinet.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula told the SABC that Ramaphosa would constitute a Cabinet that would be reflective of the GNU’s principles.

“There is a principle of prerogative that must not be diluted or undermined,” Mbalula said.

While Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie showed interest in the ministries of police and home affairs, threatening to walk out if he gets no ministry, DA leader John Steenhuisen said they would like positions where they would best serve in key areas such as infrastructure and economy.

However, Mbalula said one of the sticking points was whether they would reconfigure the government.

“Our plan as the ANC was that we are (going to) shrink government, we (are going to) reorganise the government as per the conference mandate and then align certain ministries and strengthen them,” he said in reference to the Nasrec conference resolution to disband the Public Enterprises Department and shift its state-owned entities to respective departments.

In 2023, Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation Address that he had instructed the Presidency and National Treasury to work together to rationalise government departments, entities and programmes over the next three years.

“With the arrival of the GNU, we have to strategically look at: do we stay with what we have, do we expand, do we have a leaner government, how are we going to constitute the government that is reflective of principles that have been embraced so much by political parties in the GNU,” said Mbalula.

“Over and above that our emphasis is on national interest rather than looking inward,” he said.

Unisa political studies professor Dirk Kotze said the ANC would regard certain ministerial positions as non-negotiable, such as finance, international relations and co-operation, public enterprises, and mineral resources and energy.

He said Ramaphosa may have to consider the DA’s preferences and then move to the smaller parties.

The smaller parties may be assigned deputy ministerial posts if they don’t get full ministerial positions.

“Whenever the presidents consider a Cabinet over the past 30 years, there are no specific guidelines and rules. It very much depends on the president.

“In the past he would consult the SACP and Cosatu. This time they don’t have a final say but they will be involved,” he said.

However, Kotze did not think there would be a reduction in the number of departments in line with ministries, saying it was a massive process that took a long time.

“The ministries will not be reduced nor increased. Increasing them will prove to be unpopular, but he can’t reduce them because it will be difficult to accommodate all the parties in the GNU,” he said.

Crime expert Calvin Rafadi said his suggestion to the president was to appoint a police minister who is not from a political party, and he has the power to do that.

“The reason is to avoid a ‘toe-the-line’ of political party in this big portfolio that must ensure the safety of our citizens, more especially that crime is too high and we cannot afford political interference in this space.

“He can even choose from university researchers, who have already done qualitative research studies on crime in our country,” Rafadi said.

Cape Times