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President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to reshuffle his cabinet in October, a move that could put members of his team named in the state-capture report in his crosshairs and place him in an awkward position ahead of the ANC elective conference.

The timing of the cabinet shake-up, according to three sources with direct knowledge of Ramaphosa’s thinking and two of whom are members of the ANC’s national executive committee, would coincide with the deadline for the president to present the government’s plan to implement recommendations from the state-capture report.

The report, the contents of which have been released piecemeal since January and the final instalment of which was expected to be submitted last night, paints a picture of incompetence on the one hand and possible corruption by ANC officials on the other.

So far, the most high-profile cabinet member implicated in state capture is mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe, who has been referred to law enforcement agencies for further investigation to uncover a prima facie corruption case against him

Mantashe — who is alleged to have benefited financially from now defunct security company Bosasa, which bribed its way to lucrative government tenders — has denied any wrongdoing. He says the commission made findings against him based on assumptions, which he intends to challenge.

While a reshuffle has been in the offing for some time, the date has been pushed back as chief justice Raymond Zondo, who chaired the state-capture hearings, failed to meet deadlines and tied Ramaphosa’s hands in redesigning his executive team, the sources said.

Ramaphosa has undertaken to present an action plan for the implementation of the recommendations of the state-capture report to parliament within four months of the final report being submitted to him.

The reshuffle, if it happens in October, would come just months before the ANC heads into an internal leadership contest in December, when Ramaphosa is expected to seek re-election for a second term as party president.

Analysts have said he may be reluctant to fire senior ANC leaders such as Mantashe. The minister’s prominence in the governing party could turn him into a powerful opponent ahead of the elective conference.

Reassigned

Ramaphosa’s track record also suggests he may wait until the outcome of Mantashe’s legal challenge against the commission’s report, as he did with former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba.

The reshuffle could be another test of determination for Ramaphosa — who is himself fending off allegations of money laundering, corruption and kidnapping following the theft of millions of dollars at his farm — to build what he calls a capable, ethical state.

Ramaphosa last reshuffled his cabinet in August 2021, opting for a soft-touch approach that saw several ministers, including Ayanda Dlodlo, who was state security minister at the time, reassigned. The then defence minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, was promoted to speaker of the National Assembly. Zweli Mkhize, who was implicated by the Special Investigating Unit in a tender scandal, was the only minister to lose his job.

Before that, Ramaphosa redesigned the executive shortly after the 2019 national elections and a year earlier after taking over from Jacob Zuma.

omarjeeh@businesslive.co.za

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