/ 28 February 2023

Chris Hani cabal comes to Ramaphosa’s rescue in cabinet reshuffle

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President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has again turned to his allies from the Eastern Cape to solve his cabinet reshuffle dilemma

The Mail & Guardian has reliably learnt that Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has been placed first on the Eastern Cape’s province-to-national list and is destined to be sworn in as an MP in the coming days. 

Well-placed sources said Ramaphosa turned to his loyal ally, Eastern Cape ANC chairperson Oscar Mabuyane, regarding changes to the cabinet. 

Ramaphosa is planning to appoint a non-parliamentary member as his minister of electricity but has played his cards close to his chest about who this will be. Insiders have speculated that his infrastructure czar, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, is destined for the position. 

There has also been debate among ANC insiders that the electricity minister should come from outside of the ANC to mitigate the tension between Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.

This means Godongwana, who is one of two ANC leaders that are not MPs, should be added to the party’s parliamentary list. 

ANC parliamentary chief whip Pemmy Majodina confirmed that Godongwana was first on the Eastern Cape’s list of ANC members destined for parliament. She emphasised that the ANC had every legal right to reorder its parliamentary list. 

Insiders close to the talks said that Ramaphosa last week turned to the Chris Hani cabal for help in ensuring that Godongwana makes it as an MP. 

The cabal consists of party chair Mantashe, Mabuyane, Godongwana, as well as Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele. Hailing from the Eastern Cape, the four ANC leaders are believed to be a core constituent of the Ramaphosa faction. They have been adept at fending off the president’s detractors. 

The president relied on the Eastern Cape to assure his reelection as party president. He turned to the Chris Hani cabal on several occasions last year to outwit some of his detractors in the ANC.

The Eastern Cape is planning to finalise who will make way for Godongwana on Tuesday afternoon, they said. 

ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula was heading the process from the national office, with Eastern Cape secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi heading the process from the provinces. 

A high-ranking Eastern Cape leader said: “The president spoke to the chair [Mabuyane] and requested that we place Godongwana in our list. He told him [Mabuyane] that he needed to bring in another person outside of parliament to his cabinet and that we had to make way for comrade Enoch. 

“We had to ask someone from the Chris Hani region to resign and that process will be concluded very soon. We can’t just redeploy a person, we first need to consult with them and that process is well into its final stages.” 

Another Eastern Cape insider said two names have been proposed for redeployment. 

Mabuyane was not available for comment. 

The law provides that only two cabinet ministers are appointed outside of parliament. Ramaphosa appointed Godongwana and Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel as his non-parliamentary ministers. 

On Monday, Ramaphosa held an urgent cabinet meeting to finalise regulations for the energy state of disaster. This is yet another signal that the president will soon reshuffle his cabinet. 

Ramaphosa has already met ANC alliance leaders from the South African Communist Party and union federation Cosatu. 

The meetings took place on 24 and 25 February. Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said she and Ramaphosa discussed the announcement of an electricity minister. 

The weekend meetings could mean that Ramaphosa will make his cabinet move this week. Cabinet reshuffles have usually been announced after these marathon meetings.  

The M&G previously reported that Ramaphosa had assured the ANC’s national working committee that he would reconfigure his cabinet after Godongwana delivered the budget speech, which occurred on 22 February.