Ramaphosa’s new cabinet – not that great

Cyril Ramaphosa has announced his cabinet – and it isn’t great.

This is going to be all my take.

The Deputy President: David Mabuza

Mabuza makes nonsense of any claim that Ramaphosa is going to clean up the ANC government as he is subject to very serious allegations of corruption as published by the New York Times.

Part of Ramaphosa’s mandate was to get rid of people like this – and this signals that in real terms he won’t be doing that – sure some corrupt figures will fall but that will be because they’re from an opposing faction, not because they’re corrupt.

This is one of the problems with factionalism – honesty and integrity come second to which faction you support.

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development: Thoko Didiza

When the ANC announced Thoko Didiza would run as their candidate for mayor of Tshwane, the ANC’s supporters rioted. When the elections came – Tshwane ended up with a DA mayor. Just saying.

The Minister of Basic Education: Angie Motshekga

I’m going to quote Biznews’ Chris Bateman on this:

Reading this horrific account of mismanagement, lack of accountability and a blithe treading of water by the National Department of Basic Education, I’m reminded of what a frustrated National Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi once told me. Unlike the inept Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga who recently told her parliamentary watchdog committee that her department merely ‘allocates budgets to the provinces,’ Motsoaledi’s was tearing his hair out trying to hold his provincial counterparts accountable.

in 2017 South Africa spent more per capita on education than either the US and the UK, and we still have a failing education system. A lot of that has to do with corruption and inefficiency in the education system.

Mabuza remaining as deputy president demonstrates to the provinces that you can allegedly loot funds intended for education in order to buy support in the ANC, and that will help you get ahead.

Motshekga’s reign saw schools unable to use the sex offenders registry for years, with predatory teachers moving from school to school in a way that was starkly reminiscent of pedophile priests.

This is not somebody who should remain in her position.

The Minister of Communications: Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

At the end of April Icasa was threatening in legal action if Ndabeni-Abrahams didn’t release R450 million in funds – which it needed in order to pay its staff, according to Business LIVE.

The whole saga was over 5G and the licensing of the spectrum to achieve 5G data. The problem here is that Icasa’s supposed to be independent, so Ndabeni-Abrahams holding their funding ransom in order to try and force them to do something, is not something you want to see.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

This is the woman who Jacob Zuma wanted as president so that he could continue to avoid prosecution for corruption. Thankyou, next.

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

In 2016, TimesLIVE reported on how Mapisa-Nqakula used a state jet to help a Burundian woman get into South Africa with a false passport.

The jet apparently landed at Waterkloof Airforce Base, which if you remember from the Gupta wedding scandal, isn’t supposed to be a port of entry.

Mapisa-Nqakula didn’t deny it, and in fact quite proudly stated that she’d do it again. Our minister of defence, is someone who helped smuggle an illegal immigrant across our border using state resources.

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries: Barbara Creecy

Creecy was actually in the running for finance minister. So lets talk about Life Esidimeni.

That was a scandal where the Gauteng department of health outsourced the care of mental patients to NGOs who were not capable of actually doing the job, so a lot of people died or were abused.

In 2018 according to New24, Creecy told the Life Esidimeni arbitration hearing, “Treasury has never demanded that any department cut core services, The pressure to cut costs was not on core services.”

So there were cuts.

This sounds to me like Tiger Brands. They too engaged in cost cutting for years, and ended up causing the biggest listeria outbreak in history, killing over 100 people. I don’t doubt that there was no specific mandate to cut funding to hygiene and safety standards, but when the budget cuts came – well what was there to be cut?

When budget cuts were made to the Gauteng department of health, well what was there to be cut?

The Minister of Employment and Labour: Thulas Nxesi

Last month Nxesi was in charge of Public Works, and under fire for spending R733 million this financial year to spruce up ministerial houses and other government facilities according to IOL.

I am not going to say what the DA did and say that this is a slap in the face of taxpayers, to some extent spending on maintaining government buildings is necessary. The building that housed the ministry of health for example was a death trap.

The thing is Nxesi was in office from 2011, so the fact that things got that bad under his tenure doesn’t fill me with great hopes for workers now that they’re his portfolio,

The Minister of Finance: Tito Mboweni

Mboweni is one of those people I actually quite like. He’s completely nuts, and in favour of posting pictures of his supper, which is to say I see him as something of a kindred spirit.

He was appointed Finance Minister in October of 2018. He hasn’t had long in the job, so it is difficult to assess his performance, but we haven’t seen an economic turn-around yet, and honestly I’m not seeing signs of one.

When Zuma first fired Nhahla Nene, I felt the big mistake was doing that and saying that this didn’t represent a change in policy, because the policy up until then hadn’t been working.

Our financial policy at the moment is still not working, you can’t call our growth and unemployment figures right now a working economy. Mboweni has a heck of a task ahead of him, we need to start seeing some progress on it.

The Minister of Health: Dr Zwelini Mkhize

Motsoaledi was a good health minister. Most of his trouble came from having to work in a death trap and having inherited a ministry that was systemically broken by a drunken kleptomaniac.

Even so he still managed to oversee the successful rollout of ARVs, and was considered one of the few bright spots in Jacob Zuma’s presidency. Why the change?

And why Mkhize, who admitted that during his tenure as ANC treasurer general the party accepted money from Bosasa?

Then there is the PIC dealings, where he’s been accused of helping facilitate a R450 million loan from the PIC to Afric Oil, in exchange for a  R4.5 million kickback.

According to EWN he’s pledged to cooperate with the public protector’s investigation on that.

When police came to his home as part of an investigation into political killings in KwaZulu Natal, people assumed it was a raid according to News24.

You’ve got a department in dire need of tender loving care, that outright needs rebuilding, that has a perfectly good minister there already, why do this?

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology: Dr Blade Nzimande

Merging these departments was a bad idea because we need science to be well funded to rebuild our economy, and merging the two means merging the two’s budgets so one will suffer for the other. Not a good choice.

The last time Blade Nzimande was in charge of higher education, our university students rioted, and burned buses with other students onboard. His response to #Feesmustfall, was #studentsmustfall.

Now I’m not a fan of the fallists, but his utter and dramatic failure in that department should not invite his return.

The Minister of Home Affairs: Dr Aaron Motsoaledi

As you might have guessed, I like and respect Motsoaledi for his work in the health department, so why isn’t he still there? The thing is that none of the cabinet positions should be greater or lesser than the others, they should be positions where people who have specific knowledge are appointed to run specific things.

A cabinet position is a position for a specialist and so much of what has gone wrong in South Africa’s government has been treating specialists like generalists.

Moving someone from a position where they did very well, doesn’t mean they’re going to continue doing very well, so it is better when you’ve got someone who knows what they’re doing to keep them in place.

The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation: Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu should not be in government. I’ve gone on at length before about her various failures, including her tenure in military affairs which saw the military seize the Union buildings in Pretoria.

This is normally called a coup. She’s a even a failure on a petty personal level – having had to have been let off of over R500 thousand worth of unpaid rates in Johannesburg – while earning over R2 million a year.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation: Dr Naledi Pandor

Pandor I kind of like, and it is a relief to not have Sisulu stinking up that joint anymore, but it is the same issue with Motsoaledi. Pandor wasn’t a particularly good education minister, but she found her niche in science.

When you’ve got someone who is doing well in a position keep them there.

The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services: Ronald Lamola

Well the EFF don’t like him, which means in a few months they’ll declare their undying love for him.

Lamola’s ties to David Mabuza are troubling, but for the most part I’m willing to wait and see on this one. That department has never been particularly well run, so hopefully he can prove to be an improvement over the previous ministers.

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy: Gwede Mantashe

Mantashe a man so bought Bosasa installed his home security system.

The Minister of Police: General Bheki Cele

Cele had to resign as police commissioner after he was caught engaging in dodgy tenders. We’ve got a known crook in charge of the police.

The Minister in the Presidency: Jackson Mthembu

I like Mthembu. Sure as a spin doctor he’s had to say some ridiculous stuff, but I respect that when he got caught drunk driving, he owned up to it.

He’s another one I’m willing to give a shot in the new position.

The Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities – Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

This is one of the ministries I would actually get rid of – because what does it actually do? If you look at most of the other ministries they have a specific mandate to run departments of government, but what specifically would this be about that wouldn’t be covered by say, social development, health or social development?

Okay so why get reassigned to a nothing post? Well, previously she was in charge of human settlements.

News24 reported earlier this month that the high court slammed her on her failure to deal with restitution for the former residents of District 6.

I am going to quote the article here because I can’t top this:

Nkoana-Mashabane concedes the #DistrictSix plan doesn’t contain:
– details of how funding will be secured,
– estimated timeframes and milestones,
– methodology for assigning units.


The Minister of Public Enterprises: Pravin Gordhan

That should annoy the EFF. My feelings here are mixed – in that I don’t think Gordhan did anything wrong, but he is subject to a hostile Public Protector report. The current Public Protector is pretty useless, but we can’t start ignoring her reports because that sets a precedent for further on down the line when we get a good one.

In other words, the report needed to go before a court before Gordhan could be appointed here.

The Minister of Public Service and Administration: Senzo Mchunu

He’s got a record on fighting corruption, so actually not a bad pick for the position. I hope he does very well.

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure: Patricia De Lille

De Lille ran the best run metro in South Africa, and she’s not an ANC cadre, she leads an opposition party – there is a lot to like here.

Her power base is in the Western Cape so its a bit of win for that province in that this gives her a good incentive to actually deliver there – breaking the ANC’s habit of trying to sabotage opposition led areas.

The allegations of corruption against her by factions of the DA were never all that convincing. The ANC is probably aiming at using her to break up the DA’s support a bit, but honestly a good appointment is a good appointment.

The Minister of Small Business Development: Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

I don’t know much about Ntshavheni to be honest so I’m going to take a mulligan on this one. Judgement reserved.

The Minister of Social Development: Lindiwe Zulu

Even a child knows the price of her Lexus.

She’s also not entirely savoury when it comes to foreigners, demanding they share trade secrets with local businesses back in 2015.

She also recently told illegal immigrants to keep out of South Africa. One can’t really object, because “illegal” but there is something kind of creepy going on there.

The Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture: Nathi Mthethwa

Mthethwa used to be minister of police, before that he was the minister of safety and security, now he is minister of sports, arts and culture – which sounds an awful lot like Ramaphosa had to have him on there or the party would have his head, and Mthethwa is a guy so he couldn’t be minister of women, children and people with disabilities.

He is subject to corruption allegations of his own. The silly thing is this is a real department with a real job, sports arts and culture are revenue streams that should be treated with respect, but the department can be a bit of a dumping ground.

The Minister of State Security: Ayanda Dlodlo

In March she was found in breech of Parliament’s ethics code – fter she failed to disclose a 2015 trip to Dubai where she stayed in the luxurious Oberoi Hotel according to News24.

And this was paid for by the Gupta family’s Sahara Computers. You know, the family whose corrupt dealings with the previous government kicked off the whole state capture inquiry.

Yeah, I’m not feeling the state is in secure hands, aren’t you?

The Minister of Tourism: Nkhensani Kubayi-Ngubane

Another one where I just don’t really know her. That’s a pretty good sign actually, normally if you know who somebody is it means they’re in the news, and the news generally doesn’t say nice things about people.

The Minister of Trade and Industry: Ebrahim Patel

In February of 2018 KFM reported him telling Parliament that there were signs of new investor confidence in the economy.

In September Stats SA announced that we were officially in a recession according to Tech Central.

The Minister of Transport: Fikile Mbalula

I don’t give Julius Malema much credit for revealing that the Guptas were recruiting Jacob Zuma’s cabinet for him. Malema – when this actually happened kept his mouth shut and only told us about it years later, after he was no longer on the ANC gravy train.

That said, Mbalula shouldn’t be in government after what Malema revealed about him and the circumstances of his appointment to Zuma’s cabinet.

And yet here he is, still in cabinet.


This isn’t a great cabinet. There are a few good ministers here and there, a few unknown quantities, but far too many cases where there is serious reason to believe that they may be corrupt or incompetent.

The trouble with the ANC is they represent two contradictory things – to the socialist side they represent South Africa’s attempt at free market capitalism. They’re neoliberal globalists who opened up our market to foreign business like the free marketers said we should and where are the jobs and wealth that this was supposed to bring?

To the libertarian side of our market, they represent the failings of socialism. They pushed higher salaries, strong worker protections and social welfare. We now have unemployment of over 27% and government bragging about its ever expanding distribution of state welfare – which wouldn’t be necessary if the economy worked.

So they manage to somehow represent the failings of both libertarian and socialist approaches to the market depending on who you talk to, because who gets onto the cabinet is not about capability.

It is about playing politics – it is about appeasing the party elites not actually doing the business of government.

So long as that is the focus it doesn’t really matter what overarching ideology is in charge because the appointments aren’t based on who can actually do the job.

Ramaphosa is supposed to be there to clean things up, hopefully my cynicism will be something I’m embarrassed about in five years, but this doesn’t look like a good cabinet to me.

  • Picture courtesy of GCIS via Flickr.

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