President Cyril Ramaphosa announces Cabinet reshuffle. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/ANA

Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa should have fired Minister of Women Bathabile Dlamini and the new Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said on Thursday.

"The DA notes President Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle. While we welcome his commitment to making the Cabinet more capable, his announcement is the second missed opportunity in nine months to fire delinquent ministers such as Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane," said Maimane shortly after Ramaphosa's press briefing.

"It was also a missed opportunity to cut down the size of this bloated executive, as we have called on him to do, and we contend that it is entirely possible for a more effective Executive to operate with around 15 ministries."

Maimane said merging the telecommunications and postal services department with the communications department "and recycling Siyabonga Cwele onto Home Affairs [Ministry] does nothing to achieve this and is little more than a reshuffling of dead wood".

He said the DA’s court action to have Dlamini fired was ongoing. 

The DA is seeking a court order declaring Dlamini’s appointment as Minister of Women in the Presidency unlawful. 

It emerged on Thursday that the Presidency will be opposing the DA's court action.

"Today [Thursday] is the extended deadline for the President [Ramaphosa] to file his motion to oppose this application and his failure to fire Dlamini is all the answer that we need," said Maimane.

"Bathabile Dlamini brought the country’s social grants system to the brink of collapse and played Russian roulette with the welfare of 17 million South Africans. She is a Zupta deployee who the Constitutional Court said ‘was reckless and grossly negligent’ in her handling of the SASSA grants crisis, and ordered her to pay costs."

He said the apex court also found “very strong” evidence that Dlamini gave false testimony, and recommended that the National Prosecuting Authority investigate charges of perjury against her.

"It is inconceivable that such a person could hold executive office in any constitutional democracy. Bathabile Dlamini deserves to be fired, and President Ramaphosa’s failure to do so suggests he endorses her conduct," said Maimane.

"Dlamini’s delinquency is followed closely by former Minister of Water and Sanitation and Communications, now Environmental Affairs Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, who destroyed the Water and Sanitation Department. That department remains effectively paralysed by corruption, incompetence and maladministration."

The leader of the official opposition said Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle "represents no real change as the decks have simply been reshuffled to please [African National Congress] ANC insiders".

The United Democratic Movement called the Cabinet appointments, which had been preceded by speculation of an incisive reshuffle, a "damp squib".

The Economic Freedom Fighters welcomed the decision to combine the communications and telecommunications portfolios as long overdue but deplored the retention as a minister of Mokonyane.

"We reject the recycling of disreputable characters like Nomvula Mokonyane. There is no value that she can add expect to constantly show incompetence and total disregard to public resources and the rule of law," the party said.

It added that Dlamini should have been axed and, continuing its virulent campaign against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, said he should have lost his post too. The EFF claims Gordhan lied about meeting with the Gupta family at the centre of the state capture scandal. The minister denies misleading anyone Parliament on the matter and has told the Zondo commission on state capture that he did not meet with the family directly.

African News Agency (ANA)