Thu. Oct 17th, 2019

Cabinet announcement: Four things to expect from Cyril’s new “inner circle”

Cabinet announcement President Cyril Ramaphosa InaugurationWondering what exactly is happening with this cabinet announcement? Cyril may be playing the long game, but he hasn’t been able to keep everything secret.

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Cyril Ramaphosa is taking his time over the new cabinet announcement. He’s postponed the official reveal until “later in the week” after MPs were officially elected to office last Wednesday. If this was a Jacob Zuma government, we could have even had a reshuffle by now.

But the president seems to be waiting for the clearest of mandates before committing to the future. The ANC isn’t as united as they’d like us all to believe, and Ramaphosa has a minefield to negotiate when it comes to keeping everyone happy. Party factions could play a huge part in some decisions.

After a stop-start weekend of pseudo-developments and delays, we’re looking ahead to things that you can expect to happen. There are no guarantees, but these scenarios are likely to be the most talked about:

Cabinet announcement latest news: What we can expect this week

Number of officials will be reduced

Reports over the weekend suggest one common theme: The number of people who serve in the cabinet will be reduced dramatically. In the fifth term of Parliament, 72 officials and their deputies made up a bustling inner circle for both Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa.

However, some sources suggest that as many as 40 serving politicians could be relegated out of the cabinet. That would include the merger of several ministries, and a widespread cull of well-paid deputies. South Africa’s cabinet has been described as “one of the most bloated in the world“, but Cyril looks keen to fix that.

David Mabuza “likely” to retain deputy presidency – but if he doesn’t…

DD Mabuza is currently on a rollercoaster ride over his future. Last week, it looked as if the previous deputy president would not return to his post, with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma allegedly the front-runner to replace him.

But, as he has done throughout his career, the former Mpumalanga premier is fighting back. Sources close to Mabuza say they expect him to have his swearing-in ceremony in the coming days, allowing him to resume his duties as Cyril’s right-hand man.

The controversial figure has apparently argued his case to the ANC’s Integrity Commission and remains confident that he can clear name after it was flagged by internal party structures ahead of the 2019 Elections.

If Mabuza doesn’t make the grade for the official cabinet announcement, it won’t just be NDZ looking to fill his shoes. Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor is being touted as an able deputy, and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is an outside shout, too.

Cabinet announcement: Pravin Gordhan could be Cyril’s next headache

Ever-dependable and always reliable, it’s not like Pravin Gordhan to find himself in the party’s bad books. But current Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane dropped the hammer on the public enterprises minister this week, declaring his decision to give ex-SARS chief Ivan Pillay an early retirement package as “illegal”.

Gordhan has denied any wrongdoing and will be taking Mkhwebane’s ruling to a judicial review. But it leaves President Ramaphosa with a headache where he’d have least expected one. Cyril risks undermining his PP by allowing Gordhan to continue in the role, but he also wouldn’t want to compromise his relationship with a trusted ally.

Bathabile Dlamini, Zizi Kodwa “in the relegation zone”

As we mentioned with Mr Mabuza, both Dlamini and Kodwa have also been “red-flagged” by the Integrity Commission ahead of this cabinet announcement. They have previously identified 22 nominated MPs and ANC Parliamentarians for “concerning behaviour”.

As we reported last week, Dlamini is under serious pressure to remain as the minister for women – her department could be subjected to a merger. But the Head of the Presidency, Zizi Kodwa, is also looking over his shoulder. Following the rape allegations levelled against him earlier this year, his stock has also taken a beating.

Ramaphosa may want to consider restructuring the way things are run in his office, putting Kodwa’s future in more jeopardy. No official word has been given on when the president will make his final decision. Here’s hoping it’s at a civilised hour, rather than the midnight reshuffles we became accustomed to under Jacob Zuma.

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