Why are we not calling the DA flip-floppers?

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Henk Kruger / Independent Newspapers

DA leader John Steenhuisen. Picture: Henk Kruger / Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 2, 2024



The recent announcement of the Cabinet of the current administration by the President has sparked significant debate, especially given the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) apparent contradiction of their long-standing stance on reducing government expenditure.

Despite their previous vocal opposition to a bloated cabinet, the DA has now accepted the increase in deputy minister positions and the splitting of a ministry into two, which runs counter to their previous rhetoric.

The President’s announcement came after a prolonged period of speculation, with many wondering how the Cabinet would be adjusted to accommodate coalition partners, as the ruling party did not achieve an outright majority.

Instead of relinquishing control, the President opted to split ministries and increase the number of deputies, ensuring his party’s influence remained intact. This move resulted in a Cabinet that has many ministers.

This decision stands in stark contrast to the DA’s earlier stance.

In 2018, the DA was at the forefront of advocating for a leaner government, arguing that the then  many ministers and deputy ministers, each earning over R2 million annually, were an unnecessary burden on the state. They suggested that reducing the cabinet could save R13.8 billion over the medium term. Their call for austerity and efficiency was clear and well-documented.

However, the recent developments tell a different story. Despite their previous assertions, the DA accepted the creation of six extra deputy minister positions.

This acceptance raises questions about their commitment to reducing the size of the cabinet and government expenditure. The additional 15 positions, each with an average annual salary of approximately R2.4 million, further exacerbate the situation.

The DA’s decision to accept these positions instead of rejecting them outright suggests a significant shift in priorities. It appears that the opportunity to gain political influence outweighed their previous commitments to fiscal prudence.

This inconsistency undermines their credibility and raises valid concerns about their genuine commitment to reform.

The reality of the situation is stark. The expansion of the cabinet, with its associated costs, comes at a time when the country is grappling with economic challenges. The additional burden on taxpayers is difficult to justify, especially when set against the DA’s previous promises to reduce government expenditure.

This apparent contradiction raises important questions about their commitment to their stated principles. It seems that the allure of political power has, at least in this instance, taken precedence over the promise of reform and fiscal responsibility.

The question remains: why aren’t we calling the DA flip-floppers?

* Hlamulo Khorommbi is the president of the UCT SRC.

** The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.