Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUNDAYTIMES
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: SUNDAYTIMES

Opposition parties have dismissed President Cyril Ramaphosa's new, reconfigured cabinet as an insult to SA and far from his promised new dawn for SA. 

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the inclusion of Deputy President David Mabuza was the first real test for Ramaphosa's clean-up campaign.

He criticised the president for appointing what he claimed were “compromised” ANC leaders such as Mabuza, Gwede Mantashe and Fikile Mbalula, saying that at a time of great expectation of renewal and change, Ramaphosa chose the survival of the ANC over SA's future.

“SA at this point deserves a diverse, competent cabinet that is not a negotiated settlement between factions, but instead a team of committed individuals who are ready to take SA forward,” Maimane said.

Those appointed to the economics cluster include Tito Mboweni, who retained his position as finance minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni as small business development minister and Ebrahim Patel as trade and industry minister.

“His appointments to the economics cluster show that he will continue down the same tried and tested path that has led us to having the highest youth unemployment rate in the world,” Maimane said. 

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party rejected the new cabinet, and branded Ramaphosa a “dishonest, manipulative person”.

He said his cabinet decisions were “an absolute insult to the intelligence of the country”.

“The first sign of absolute dishonesty is the idea that he has reduced the cabinet by reducing the number of ministers, yet he increases deputy ministers,” Ndlozi said.

The EFF accused Ramaphosa of failing to save the public purse from what it described as the “the factional and careerist gluttony of the ANC”.

Ndlozi said they also rejected the retention of Pravin Gordhan as public enterprises minister, noting that there was an adverse finding against him by embattled public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Mkhwebane came under heavy criticism when she released a report saying Gordhan acted improperly when he approved early retirement for former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay. Gordhan, who was finance minister at the time, further approved a request to then keep Pillay on at Sars on a fixed-term contract.

Mkhwebane released the report on Friday ahead of Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration as president.

Gordhan has approached the Pretoria high court to review and set aside the report, and has indicated that the timing of its release is politically motivated.

The EFF has instructed its lawyers to join in the legal defence of Mkhwebane's report, saying they will fight any attempts to remove her from the Chapter 9 institution.

“Ramaphosa will be treated the same way as Zuma. Whoever ignores the findings of the public protector is an enemy of the EFF and a constitutional delinquent,” it said.

IFP spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said they welcomed the reduction of the cabinet, but were mindful that Ramaphosa had chosen to put the ANC before SA.

“We certainly hope that the cabinet will act in the best interests of our country and not in the interests of the elite and select few which have benefited over the past few decades from state control,” said Hlengwa.

However, UDM president Gen Bantu Holomisa said the reconfigured cabinet made sense and was balanced.

“It must have been difficult for him to screen and get people who are not tainted,” Holomisa said.

COPE spokesperson Dennis Bloem said that Mantashe and deputy defence minister Thabang Makwetla should have been left out of the cabinet as they were implicated in the Bosasa scandal.

The ANC's alliance partners, Cosatu and the SACP, welcomed the cabinet, saying it presented a balanced administration that needed to hit the ground running.

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za