Cape Town - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership will be severely tested this week if he reshuffles his Cabinet, as he is expected to do, and several ministers lose their jobs.
On Monday, Ramaphosa was to meet the ANC’s national officials in Joburg, where he was expected to brief them about his plans for changing the administration.
Ramaphosa and the Top Six were also expected to consult ANC alliance partners, Cosatu and the SACP, about his planned changes to the Cabinet before announcing them.
The two organisations continually slammed former president Jacob Zuma for unilaterally changing his Cabinet and firing ministers without consulting other leaders.
Both the SACP and Cosatu had banned Zuma from their gatherings and called for his removal by the time he was succeeded by Ramaphosa as ANC president in December and recalled from the country’s presidency by the ANC’s national executive committee last week.
Ramaphosa is under pressure to fill the post of deputy president, which he left vacant after being elected as the country’s president on Thursday.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen are understood to be facing the chop when Ramaphosa carries out the clean-up he promised during his first State of the Nation Address.
Zwane is implicated in the Free State Vrede Dairy Farm corruption allegations, in terms of which the Gupta family and their allies allegedly illegally syphoned off about R220 million from the Agriculture Department, with R30m allegedly having been used to foot the bill for a Gupta family wedding in 2013.
This was before Zwane was controversially appointed to Parliament and then quickly appointed by Zuma to head Mineral Resources.
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan is now tipped to head the Public Enterprises Ministry, where he would be charged with ensuring the rescue of state-owned companies, which are in trouble due to mismanagement, bad governance and alleged looting.
A senior NEC leader said officials would have to deliberate on the changes and inform alliance partners early this week.
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“Some of these changes are obvious, but would have to be properly canvassed to ensure that, going forward, we are not distracted.
“There is already general consensus that there would not be a better pick than comrade Pravin if we want to effectively clean the rot that the president alluded to in the State of the Nation Address,” said the leader.
On Friday, Ramaphosa said he would make tough decisions to restore the health of state-owned enterprises, some of which have been a target for state capture.
“Many of our state-owned enterprises are experiencing severe financial, operation and governance challenges, which has impacted on the performance of the economy and placed pressure on the fiscus. We will intervene decisively to stabilise and revitalise state-owned enterprises,” he said.
In his speech, Ramaphosa said Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had suggested that a commission be appointed to help restore the credibility of the SA Revenue Service, a move that could see Sars commissioner and Zuma ally Tom Moyane booted out.
“At the request of the minister of finance, I will shortly appoint a commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance of Sars, to ensure that we restore the credibility of the service and strengthen its capacity to meet its revenue targets,” Ramaphosa told Parliament.
Political analyst Ralph Mathekga warned that Ramaphosa would be entrenching factionalism if he discarded ministers with potential such as Gigaba.
“He is between a rock and a hard place because you have important portfolios like finance and public enterprises where you really need these changes, but a lot of people who support Ramaphosa have unreasonable expectations.
“You can’t just wake up and clean up, if you remember the outcome of Nasrec (ANC elective conference). So you cannot get rid of people like Gigaba. You could move him to a less significant portfolio but not throw him out completely.”
Mathekga said that while some needed to get the chop from the Cabinet, Ramaphosa would have to strike a compromise to avoid any group mobilising against him.
Cosatu and the SACP declined to comment on the pending reshuffle, as they were still awaiting consultation by the ANC’s leadership.