Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended his bloated Cabinet, which recently saw the addition of a new Minister of Electricity under his office.
Opposition political parties such as the Democratic Alliance and civil society organisations recently slammed Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle for failing to tackle some of the country's most pressing challenges, including unemployment, the alarming crime rate, and declining healthcare.
On Monday, the DA’s shadow minister of public service and administration, Leon Schreiber, said Ramaphosa’s Cabinet is not justifiable as it continues to be a haven for individuals accused of corruption.
"It is yet another indictment on Ramaphosa that he has not only appointed one of the biggest, most bloated, and most expensive Cabinets on earth, but that he has packed his executive with incompetents and malcontents. Ministers like Gwede Mantashe and Zizi Kodwa face serious allegations of corruption emanating from the Zondo Commission, and now, Kiviet has been exposed as an alleged fraudster," Schreiber said.
Reacting to Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle, OUTA CEO Wayne Duvenage said Ramaphosa should have trimmed his Cabinet to a manageable size instead of adding more ministries.
"This was a shuffle that extended a Cabinet that should have been trimmed but left little change in crucial departments with big problems. Adding ministers to the presidency consolidates power without improving public accountability. All eyes will be on these appointees to deliver," Duvenage said.
On Monday, Ramaphosa said since his announcement of his new Cabinet, there had been dissatisfaction about the size of his Cabinet.
"The discussion has, unfortunately, been reduced to a head-counting exercise. It is argued by some that any decrease in the number of ministers is good, and any increase is bad.
At the start of this administration in 2019, we reduced the number of ministries from 34 to 28. There was, therefore, much criticism when, last week, we increased the number of ministries for the remainder of this administration to 30. Yet, there has been little analysis of why we made these changes and whether they were necessary."
"The new ministries I announced last week respond to our current specific needs. As I explained in the State of the Nation Address, we need a minister to coordinate and drive our response to the electricity crisis. This is a temporary position, and the Minister will remain in office only for as long as it is necessary to resolve the crisis. The second new ministry, for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, arises from an appreciation that we need a dedicated focus on ensuring that government effectively implements the programmes that underpin our priorities and is able to fix problems as they arise," the President said.
Ramaphosa added that his objective has been to respond to the country’s needs, which has required him to increase the size of his Cabinet.
"In considering the size of the executive, the question we should be asking is how best should government be organised to meet the country’s needs?"
"At this moment in our country’s history, when we have vast, urgent, and pressing developmental needs, when we have to undo the devastating and enduring legacy of apartheid, we need an active and capable developmental state. It needs to have the resources and ability to tackle challenges like poverty, joblessness, homelessness, illiteracy, a lack of social infrastructure, and a significant burden of disease," he said.