President Cyril Ramaphosa Picture Cindy Waxa/ANA

Cape Town - Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa is under enormous pressure to appoint a Cabinet that will signal his seriousness about rooting out corruption and fighting state capture.

On Friday night, all eyes will be on Ramaphosa, who was sworn in on Thursday afternoon after he was unanimously elected in Parliament, when he delivers his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Ramaphosa was elected the fifth democratic president of  South Africa, just hours after the dramatic resignation of former president Jacob Zuma.

ANC insiders said the new president was expected to appoint a new cabinet soon, with speculation rife that he will get rid of the ministers and deputy ministers implicated in state capture.

Some of the ministers linked to the Guptas looked despondent after Ramaphosa was sworn in.

Ramaphosa has not indicated when he will announce his new cabinet, but is expected do so before the end of the weekend and in time for the Budget speech on Wednesday. 

ANC leaders would also not be drawn on when the new Cabinet will be announced.

But in a list that was circulating on social media, with official parliamentary letterheads, it seems that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was likely to be fired, with a new minister set to deliver the Budget.

There is speculation that former finance minister Pravin Gordhan might return to the National Treasury.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini are also in the cross-hairs to be axed in the Cabinet reshuffle.

The list showed that former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize, ex-ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa, Ronald Lamola, Senzo Mchunu, David Masondo and Cosatu’s second vice-president Zingiswa Losi could be sworn in as ANC MPs. 

Mkhize had attended the ANC caucus meeting in the House.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said Mkhize was a member of the national executive committee (NEC) and was allowed to attend any ANC meeting, including its caucus meeting.

“We are happy to have a senior leader of the ANC, who is not a member of caucus, here. It’s the chief whip who knows which vacancies (are available),” said Mthembu when asked if Mkhize would become an MP. 

ANC NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu has been tipped as the favourite to be appointed by Ramaphosa as his deputy president.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh urged Ramaphosa to get rid of the ministers mired in graft. 

“You will get rid of the scourge of corruption if you will remove all those individuals from Cabinet allegedly involved in state capture, as well as the incompetent ministers,” said Singh.

Ramaphosa pledged to work for the interests of South Africa in cleaning up state-owned enterprises and cracking down on state capture.

“The issues you have raised, issues of corruption, SOEs and state capture, are issues on our radar screen. We will address them tomorrow (in the SONA) and the steps that we are taking,” he said.

He agreed with the opposition parties on the choosing of a good executive team.

“Reverend (Kenneth) Meshoe, we will pay heed to the advice you are giving that we should choose a great team. All of us should lead our people with great courage. I will try to work very hard and not disappoint the people of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.

Cosatu said Ramaphosa had to cut the country’s bloated Cabinet by half. The trade union federation expected the SONA to include detailed time frames and targets on a jobs plan, including the long-promised presidential jobs summit under discussion in Parliament to come into law by May.

”Ramaphosa needs to be engaging but decisive, not handle the crooks with kid gloves, because there is no time for laziness when addressing the jobs bloodbath and unemployment,” Cosatu said in a statement.

The country’s biggest union federation is also demanding a clear commitment to end looting and state capture, and for National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams to be axed.

The SACP has called on Ramaphosa to focus on reduction of inequalities by rooting out patronage networks in the state.

“These measures will require dismantling the parasitic networks surrounding our state, and decisively bringing an end to corporate capture of the state and all other forms of corruption and wrongdoing,” it said.

Mandla Nkomfe, the convener of Future SA, a nonpartisan coalition of civil-society organisations, demanded that the commission of inquiry into state capture be given the resources to complete its work on time. “The ANC must ensure that none of its members impede its work. No minister should be allowed to use state funds to bring frivolous legal actions against it,” he said.

Political Bureau