Do we even need the Cabinet ministers? Prof Molepo says State running well with president supported by directors general

Associate Professor at the North West University, John Molepo. File Picture

Associate Professor at the North West University, John Molepo. File Picture

Published Jun 27, 2024


As South Africans eagerly await the announcement of Cabinet members to lead the seventh administration, the work of the government continues, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa and supported by directors-general across government departments.

In the general elections held on May 29, the ANC received its worst election result since the end of apartheid 30 years ago in South Africa. The party garnered 40% of the vote, resulting in the loss of its absolute majority in Parliament

IOL last week reported that Ramaphosa had officially begun his second term after his party formed a Government of National Unity (GNU), which includes its long-standing rival, the Democratic Alliance (DA), along with other smaller parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA).

In an interview with IOL on Thursday, Associate Professor John Molepo from North West University stated that the government machinery continues to operate smoothly ahead of the appointment of Cabinet ministers.

“The directors general are actually the ones who do everything in government. It is just that the ministers provide political direction but the DGs (directors general) are the ones doing everything. Even when ministers are going to Cabinet meetings, they normally go with the DGs to assist them there,” said Molepo.

“The relationship between the DG and the president is important particularly at this juncture.

“Maybe we should have a debate in South Africa regarding the bloated ministers that we have. The president can work with the directors general and that can make us save on costs. But this is something we are not ready for in South Africa because we still need political accountability,” he said.

Molepo commented on the delays in appointing the Cabinet following Ramaphosa's recent swearing-in, noting that coalition negotiations or forming a government of national unity in other democracies often require a longer period.

Earlier on Thursday, IOL reported that the SA Communist Party (SACP) has condemned the Democratic Alliance’s initial list of desired posts in the government of national unity.

The SACP urged President Cyril Ramaphosa must go ahead and appoint his executive, with or without the blue party.

On Monday, IOL reported that as parties invited by the ANC into the GNU put forward their demands in the power-sharing arrangement, the DA demanded 12 Cabinet posts in the government of national unity.

On Thursday, IOL reported that in a recent communication to Ramaphosa, Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen has outlined the party's revised stance on Cabinet positions in the GNU government.

According to Steenhuisen, the DA has been offered six Cabinet portfolios: Home Affairs; Basic Education; Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC); Public Works and Infrastructure; Communications and Digital Technologies; and Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

Additionally, the party has been offered deputy ministerial positions in Finance (with full cabinet committee rights), Energy and Electricity, Small Business Development, and one other to be determined.

DA’s Richard Newton and several other sources confirmed to IOL that the letter to Ramaphosa was authentic.