Is the South African Cabinet too large? Yes. Would we benefit from serious rationalisation of departments that will contribute to greater efficiencies and save money? Without a doubt.
However, is the Cabinet bigger than that of Britain’s, as alleged by David Wolpert in his letter on Tuesday (Start acting, Mr President, June 12)? Definitely not, unless you do not understand either our local or the UK’s systems of government.
The fact is there are 21 members of the UK cabinet, plus 100 junior ministers of state and parliamentary undersecretaries — thus some 120 politicians running the government. SA, with its 68 ministers and deputies, does not compare too badly. One can make similar calculations for the US, where there are, in addition to the cabinet, a large number of undersecretaries and deputy secretaries who are in charge of sections that would in our system be regarded as departments.
It is time that we have an informed debate about the size of the government.
It is good news that President Cyril Ramaphosa initiated this debate in his state of the nation address. But any such debate should be based on facts rather than vague generalisations.