Pressure on Cyril Ramaphosa to axe some Cabinet members in looming reshuffle

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 21, 2023


Pretoria - Pressure is mounting on President Cyril Ramaphosa to wield the axe on some of his Cabinet members during the looming reshuffle.

A political analyst said Ramaphosa was still consulting, while insiders said it would happen any time after the Budget speech, scheduled for tomorrow.

The imminent reshuffle is expected after most of his Cabinet members were booted out of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) at the party’s elective conference in December.

Most glaring among those left out of the NEC were Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Nathi Mthethwa (Minister of Sports Arts and Culture).

A party insider close to the party’s National Working Committee, who did not want to be named for fear of repercussions, said Ramaphosa told the structure last week that he would announce the reshuffle after the Budget speech, to be tabled by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana tomorrow.

However, political analyst and public administration lecturer at the University of Mpumalanga, Dr John Molepo, said the president was taking his time because he was still consulting and managing the “balance of forces”.

“What is important before a reshuffle like this is consultation. The president is that kind of person who always consults despite the decision being his prerogative, he still consults the party and its stakeholders,” Molepo said.

He added that Ramaphosa was also managing what he called the “balance of forces” among the party’s factions.

“He is still weighing his options as to who to replace with who.

“For instance, if he were to measure what would happen if he were to remove Gwede Mantashe as Minerals and Energy Minister?

“He would have to consider that Mantashe was his ally at the conference at Nasrec.”

Molepo predicted that Mthethwa would be dropped as minister because he was out of the NEC and was 100% behind Ramaphosa’s challenger, Dr Zweli Mkhize, at the conference.

Also on the chopping bloc, Molepo reckons, is Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, who also openly challenged and criticised the president ahead of Nasrec.

To ascend, Molepo said, the party’s second deputy secretary, Maropene Ramokgopa, was “definitely going to be appointed” a minister, while Ramaphosa’s party deputy, Paul Mashatile, will also be appointed deputy president of the country after incumbent, David Mabuza, resigned.

Asked if the delay of the reshuffle was showing signs of being indecisive from the side of the president, Molepo said it could be over-consulting.

“The president over-consults. If you somehow compare him with former president Jacob Zuma, he was decisive, whereas Ramaphosa takes his time to make a decision.

“He is indecisive in a sense that when we need his leadership, he consults first. By the time he has taken the decision, things would have got worse.”

Ramaphosa is expected to replace Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, because he has been elected ANC secretary-general, a full-time position.

He has to appoint a deputy president after Mabuza resigned, and the public services and administration position has been vacant for a while now after Ayanda Dlodlo was deployed elsewhere.

During his State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa announce a new Ministry of Electricity that would have a role to be filled as well.

Other positions that may be reconfigured are the Tourism portfolio, Sports Arts and Culture.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, of the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, may also be given the chop after she defied the party norms, voting with opposition parties to have an impeachment process launched against Ramaphosa in Parliament last year.

Pretoria News