On Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the new Cabinet. Apart from the shocking revelation that Patricia de Lille was appointed as minister of public works and infrastructure, the Cabinet consists of 50% women.
Ramaphosa explained it was a first in the history of our country that “half of all ministers are women. The president added that he has taken a number of considerations into account.
These include experience, continuity, competence, generational mix and demographic and regional diversity. Of the new national executive, he added:
“The people who I am appointing today must realize that the expectations of the South African people have never been greater and that they will shoulder a great responsibility.”
Rwanda and Ethiopia took the first steps
President Ramaphosa followed the example set by Ethiopia and Rwanda in 2018. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made headlines when his transformative agenda in a time when public discourse about gender equality was non-existent.
In addition, almost two-thirds of Rwanda’s Cabinet consists of women. In October 2018, Rwanda became the second African nation to include more women in lean 26-seat Cabinet. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said:
“A higher number of women in decision-making roles have led to a decrease in gender discrimination and gender-based crimes.”
Younger members in cabinet
Ramaphosa also included younger leaders. Most notably former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola and youth leader, Njabulo Nzuza as minister of justice and correctional services, and deputy minister of home affairs respectively.
The president also set out the reduce his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s bloated cabinet. He cut it down from 36 ministers to 28 and joining several portfolios. In addition, Deputy President David Mabuza retained his position.
Furthermore, the Democratic Alliance was not happy with Mabuza retaining his role as Deputy President. And neither with the appointment of De Lille, the only member from an opposition party to secure a seat.
A notable exclusion from the new Cabinet was former minister Bathabile Dlamini, seen as a strong ally of former president Zuma, as well as the former minister of environmental affairs, Nomvula Mokonyane.