Markets react as Mboweni steps down in Ramaphosa cabinet reshuffle

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s long-awaited cabinet reshuffle has seen Finance Minister Tito Mboweni replaced with ANC economic policy head Enoch Godongwana.

The unexpected move, announced on Thursday evening, came as a result of Mboweni’s request to stand down from the post, which he has occupied since 2018, the president said in a live television address.

Markets responded to the move immediately, with the rand shedding about 25 cents of its value against the US dollar before later recouping some of the losses.

Confirming what sources had told the Mail & Guardian earlier, Ramaphosa also announced the resignation of Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who he had placed on special leave over his alleged involvement in the R150-million Digital Vibes scandal. Mkhize stepped down on Thursday afternoon, following a meeting with the president earlier in the day.

Mkhize will be replaced by his deputy, Dr Joe Phaahla, who has served several terms in the portfolio. Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, currently chair of parliament’s health portfolio committee, will take over the deputy minister’s role from Phaahla.

Ramaphosa said that the reshuffle came at a time when South Africa was facing challenges around its Covid-19 vaccination programme and economic reconstruction, and needed to build capacity to deliver in these key areas.

In a major shake up of the security cluster – whose weaknesses were exposed by the slow response to last month’s unrest – Ramaphosa axed defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her state security counterpart Ayanda Dlodlo.

“While calm has been restored to the affected areas and our law enforcement agencies are working hard to bring those responsible to justice, we have acknowledged that our security services were found wanting in several respects,” he said.

Dlodlo moves to the public service and administration portfolio, while National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise replaces Mapisa-Nqakula, who Ramaphosa said would be deployed to another posting.

The president scrapped the state security ministry, moving the function to the presidency. Dlodlo’s deputy, Zizi Kodwa, is now deputy minister in the presidency responsible for state security.

Ramaphosa said the consolidation of the security cluster in the presidency would improve its strategic management and its effectiveness.

“This is to ensure that the country’s domestic and foreign intelligence services more effectively enable the president to exercise his responsibility to safeguard the security and integrity of the nation,” he said of the move.

Police Minister Bheki Cele survived the reshuffle.

Asserting further control over the intelligence sector, Ramaphosa appointed Sydney Mufamadi, who led his high-level review of intelligence, as national security adviser, replacing Charles Nqakula, who had occupied the post until earlier this year.

Ramaphosa said the security shake-up would also include the appointment of an expert three-person panel, headed by Professor Sandy Africa, with advocate Mojanku Gumbi and Silumko Sokupa assisting. The panel would conduct a thorough analysis of the state’s “level of preparedness and shortcomings in our response.”

Other changes included the splitting of the human settlements department from water and sanitation, which would now become a standalone ministry under Senzo Mchunu

Tourism and acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi will take over the human settlements portfolio and Sisulu moves to tourism.

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Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa
Lizeka Tandwa is a political journalist with a keen interest in local government.
Paddy Harper
Paddy Harper
Storyteller.

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