President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle has been widely greeted as “balanced”. The relatively sanguine assessment from analysts, however, may underestimate the possibility of a leftward shift in policy over the medium term.

Several factors have distorted analysts’ perceptions. Disproportionate attention has been focused on the fate of a small number of Zuma-era malfeasants. Many observers believed Ramaphosa would be forced to reappoint ministers such as Malusi Gigaba, Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane to the cabinet because they featured high on ANC candidate lists. The fact that Ramaphosa swept them aside was a step forward, but only starting from a position of low expectations.

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