/ 1 March 2023

Ramaphosa to reshuffle his cabinet in ‘a matter of days’ says spokesperson

Ramaphosa Gcis Photo 2020 03 23 20 06 39
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (GCIS)

President Cyril Ramaphosa will finally reshuffle his cabinet and appoint a minister of electricity — and a new deputy president to replace David Mabuza — within a few days.

Ramaphosa announced the creation of the electricity ministry during his State of the Nation address last month as part of a series of measures aimed at addressing South Africa’s energy generation crisis and easing load-shedding.

Mabuza had informed Ramaphosa of his desire to resign last month, but was asked to stay in office while the process of appointing his replacement — ANC deputy president Paul Mashatile is the most likely candidate — was finalised.

Parliament received Mabuza’s resignation as an MP on Wednesday, leaving the country without a deputy president and increasing the pressure on the president to reshuffle and replace ministers who failed to make the ANC national executive committee at its conference in December.

Presidency spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said at a media briefing to announce Ramaphosa’s programme for the coming week that the process of filling both “vacancies” in his cabinet would be completed “in a matter of days.”

“There are vacancies in the cabinet. We also have a vacancy in the role of the deputy president. There is a sense of urgency that the president fills those vacancies as soon as possible,” Magwenya said. “In a matter of days that announcement will be made.”

On Tuesday, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana was sworn in as an MP, making space for Ramaphosa to appoint an electricity minister from outside parliament. Mashatile and several other ANC leaders, including former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala, have also been moved to the national assembly ahead of their appointment to cabinet.

Magwenya defended the president’s pace in making the appointments, in particular the electricity minister, saying that Ramaphosa had been “seized with the electricity crisis for quite some time”.

The reshuffle could not be carried out quickly because there was a “lot of complexity” that had to be looked at, including the stability of government and the implementation of existing state programmes.

“The management of the cabinet is not something that can be conducted in haste,” he said.

Mawenya said that the work of departments and of the administration in general  was continuing “so the fact that we have vacancies in cabinet has not hindered the work of the government”.

“The president is aware that he has to fill those vacancies. The vacancies will be filled. The amount of time it has taken for him to consult and to apply his mind has in no way been to the detriment of the work of the government,” Magwenya said.

Magwenya also defended the Ramaphosa administration’s level of seriousness in dealing with the electricity crisis and the corruption at Eskom, saying that the declaration of the state of disaster was an indication of this.

“The declaration of the state of disaster is another signal of the level of seriousness that the government has towards this crisis. On the one hand, responding to the impact of load-shedding and making sure that we can accelerate various programmes that will get us more megawatts into the grid,” he said. “A lot has been done over the past six to nine months.”

Magwenya said  former Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter — who was fired last week over a tell-all interview with eNCA in which he claimed cabinet-level involvement in looting the entity — should have taken the information at his disposal to law enforcement agencies so that it could be investigated.

De Ruyter said in the interview that he had been unable to “energise” top police and State Security Agency leadership to intervene at Eskom.

Magwenya said that the president did not have the names of the cabinet members allegedly involved in, and with knowledge of, the syndicate operations at Eskom and could not respond to or act on “generic suggestions about individuals”.

He said it was “public knowledge” that Eskom was in the grip of criminal syndicates and that the government had responded to this by deploying a variety of state agencies, including intelligence and the revenue service, who were “dealing with every aspect of wrongdoing taking place at Eskom.”

Magwenya said that because of the “level of criminality” at Eskom, it was “going to take time” for law enforcement to deal with the syndicates operating at the entity.