President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the eulogy at the funeral of former deputy minister of mineral resources and energy, Bavelile Hlongwa. Picture: Jairus Mmutle GCIS

Durban - Almost four months after the passing away of Bavelile Hlongwa, President Cyril Ramaphosa is yet to appoint a replacement and one political analyst believes the president is hamstrung by internal fights within the ruling ANC. 

Hlongwa died in a car accident in September last year along the N1 highway near Polokwane when her security team stopped to help a motorist who was involved in an accident and minutes later a truck ran over them.

She was appointed in June of the same year to hold the position of deputy minister in the department of minerals which was merged with the then department of energy, creating one of the super departments in the 2019-2024 government term of office. She deputised Gwede Mantashe who is currently the solo pilot of the department while waiting for his deputy to be appointed. 

Amid swirling talks in the corridors of power that Ramaphosa may not fill the position in order to trim his cabinet, his spokesperson, Khusela Diko, told Independent Media on Sunday that “the president will announce any appointment of members of the national executive when such appointment is made.”

Diko clarified that talk that Ramaphosa would leave the position vacant was a mere “presumption”. 

“The President has not made any pronouncements on this matter yet so any view on this made by anyone would be a presumption at this point,” Diko said. 

Political analyst Xolani Dube from Xubera Institute, said the failure by Ramaphosa to timely fill up such a crucial position was a sign that the President was not willing to give it to anyone but to a loyalist he can trust. 

He said the department is not one of the low key departments where anyone can be appointed but a critical one which at the present moment it's in the centre of political wrestling between ANC factions, with some of them saying it should take over Eskom. 

“So it won’t be easy for Cyril just to deploy anyone in that department… Cyril cannot just send anyone without DD’s (deputy president David Mabuza) approval or Gwede Mantashe’s approval and also the secretary's (general, Ace Magashule of the ANC) approval,” Dube said. 

He added that his analysis of the situation is that even Mantashe does not want a new deputy minister who “is going to rock the boat or someone who is not going to question him a lot.”

“It’s a very strategic department and it is not easy to fill out of this political contestation that is happening… It’s a clear indication that Cyril s highly compromised now because he is failing to fill that position… He is no longer commanding the respect and all the powers that comes with his office.” 

Political Bureau