Sweeping cabinet changes expected
Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa’s next task is to shake up the flawed Cabinet he has inherited.
After he was elected unopposed by Parliament on Thursday, Ramaphosa said he would select a "team that works in the interests of the country".
In the aftermath of former president Jacob Zuma’s resignation on Wednesday, Ramaphosa now has to put together his own Cabinet, which he would rely on to help him lead the ANC into the 2019 national elections.
Speculation was rife on Thursday that a cabinet reshuffle would follow his swearing in. With the budget due to be delivered next week, the big question in political circles is who will deliver it.
Among changes that could happen are Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba being moved out of the Treasury, although he could remain in the Cabinet. Some would prefer the return of either Nhlanhla Nene or Pravin Gordhan, both former finance ministers. Others think the post needs a newcomer.
A key contender among ANC insiders is former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize.
Mkhize withdrew from the ANC’s presidential race on the floor of the party’s national elective conference in December. He played a key role in the aftermath of Zuma’s disastrous reshuffle in 2015 when Nene was replaced by Des van Rooyen. Mkhize was among the leaders who persuaded Zuma to return Gordhan to the post.
Another critical question is whether the new president will reconfigure the Cabinet.
Key leaders who were elected to serve on the ANC’s national executive committee in December may be handed ministerial posts. These include former ANC national spokesman Zizi Kodwa, former KwaZulu-Natal chairman Senzo Mchunu and David Masondo, CE of the Gauteng Automotive Industry Development Centre. Former finance minister Gordhan has also been mooted as a contender for the post of public enterprises minister.
Former tourism minister Derek Hanekom and former higher education minister Blade Nzimande, too, may be returned to the Cabinet after they were axed by Zuma in 2017.
Ministers said to be on their way out include Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Co-operative Governance Minister van Rooyen. Energy Minister David Mahlobo could be shifted from that key post. The president is also likely to shake up the security cluster by removing Zuma loyalist Bongani Bongo from the intelligence portfolio.