Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa hosts a meeting with leaders of the business sector at the Union Buildings, Pretoria to brief them about government interventions to turn-around Eskom. South Africa. 20/03/2015. Siyabulela Duda
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa hosts a meeting with leaders of the business sector at the Union Buildings, Pretoria to brief them about government interventions to turn-around Eskom. South Africa. 20/03/2015. Siyabulela Duda

Ramaphosa missed a chance to make real a difference with Cabinet reshuffle

By Opinion Time of article published Aug 10, 2021

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By Douglas Gibson

There was excited anticipation about the imminent Cabinet reshuffle. When it happened, The Star summed it up: “Ramaphosa recycles rot”.

While that may have been unkind, it summed up the feeling the president missed a golden opportunity to make a real difference.

The paucity of talent in the ANC and the faction fights that rage limited the scope of what he could do. He should have shown some courage and included a few non-ANC people.

South Africa needs a government of national unity (GNU) to resolve the multiple crises and problems instead of kicking the can down the road because ANC policies prevent the necessary root and branch reforms.

While some of the appointments are disappointing, the greater problem is the retention of non-performers in their current posts or recycling them to other posts where they will not do any better than they have in the past.

Additionally, instead of slimming down the Cabinet as promised after the last election, the president split Lindiwe Sisulu’s Human Settlements and Water Affairs portfolio and appointed two ministers while shifting her to Tourism.

The bloated deputy minister corps remains, all with VIP security, official cars in Cape Town and Tshwane, two official homes, staff in their offices and their homes and mostly little discernible work to do.

Speaker Thandi Modise’s appointment as minister of defence may prove a good one. I know her and she is a kind and clever person, with an excellent war record, a sad history of experiences while imprisoned, a great sense of humour and the firmness and determination needed to make a success of Defence. I wish I could say the same about many others.

The new minister of Finance is well qualified for the position and he may well surprise us but it is of extreme concern that he has a bad blot on his record relating to the “disappearance” of R120 million belonging to members of a trade union. He acknowledged before a commission of inquiry he had failed in his fiduciary duties.

Other ministers vary in competence but few will turn out to be star performers, some because they do not have the skills or breadth of vision required; others because ANC policies are outdated and inappropriate for a modern country wanting exceptional growth to provide millions of jobs.

Scarcely any area of our national life works even reasonably adequately.

A quarter of a century ago, president Mandela invited Tony Leon to join his Cabinet. After careful consideration, Tony declined the offer. He said South Africa did not need a larger government with the three biggest parties already in the GNU; it needed a larger and more effective opposition to properly establish democracy.

Today, the situation is different. SA needs a competent, calm, and honest government that is not in love with the failed ideas of Marx fondly followed in Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Cuba.

The Cabinet should be remade as a GNU, including significant figures, some from the other parties and some from outside politics. We owe it to our people to try.

*Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand. His website is douglasgibsonsouthafrica. com

**Views expressed here are not of The Star or IOL.

The Star

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