/ 6 March 2023

Ramaphosa names his electricity minister, Paul Mashatile becomes new deputy president

Ramaphosa Mashatile
Preisdent Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Paul Mashatile is the new deputy president of the country. (Leon Sadiki/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the appointment of his infrastructure czar  Kgosientsho Ramokgopa as the new minister of electricity. 

In a much anticipated cabinet reshuffle, Ramaphosa focused most of his speech on the current energy crisis, along with the role that Ramokgopa will play in his cabinet in coordinating the country’s response.

Ramaphosa, who came to office with a promise to trim his cabinet, has instead added two new ministries to his team, namely the electricity minister and as well as a minister with specific responsibility for planning, monitoring and evaluation. 

He however said this would be rationalised going into the next administration.

Ramaphosa said the purpose of the changes announced on Monday were to ensure that the government was properly capacitated and directed to give effect to the commitments made in his state of the nation address last month and the budget speech.

He said all members of the cabinet had been directed to focus on “agreed actions” to make a “meaningful difference” and “real progress” within the next 12 months and lay a foundation for sustained recovery into the future.

Ramaphosa also appointed Paul Mashatile as his deputy, attributing the delay in reshuffling his cabinet — which many had expected much sooner after the ANC’s December elective conference — to “a number of processes that needed to be followed” around appointments to the executive.

The president said the government’s focus was on the full and urgent implementation of the Energy Action Plan, adding that the ruling party remained committed to that programme.

He said the primary task of the new electricity minister would be to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of load-shedding as a matter of urgency.

Ramokgopa will also oversee the electricity crisis response, with the political responsibility, authority and control over all critical aspects of the Energy Action Plan.

“This will help to deal with the challenge of fragmentation of responsibility across various departments and ministers which, while appropriate under normal circumstances, is not conducive to a crisis response,” Ramaphosa said.

“The minister will be expected to facilitate the coordination of the numerous departments and entities involved in the crisis response, work with the Eskom leadership to turn around the performance of existing power stations, and accelerate the procurement of new generation capacity.”

(Compiled by Lineo Letaba)

The president said the recently published regulations for the country’s energy state of disaster declared last month, empowered the electricity minister to issue directions such as excluding critical facilities from load-shedding where technically feasible; expedite various regulatory processes for energy projects; and enable Eskom to undertake critical maintenance more quickly and efficiently.

Ramokgopa will liaise with other relevant ministers to ensure “coherence” in the issuing of other directions during the national state of disaster, Ramaphosa said, adding: “The minister in the presidency for electricity will remain in office only for as long as it is necessary to resolve the electricity crisis.”

In other hanges announced on Monday, Maropene Ramokgopa, the ANC second deputy secretary general, takes on the post of minister in the presidency responsible for monitoring and evaluation, a role which will be critical in ensuring that the cabinet, departments and entities deliver on their mandates.

Current minister in the presidency Mondli Gungbele, has been moved to communications and digital technologies, replacing Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, who is now minister for state security in the presidency.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is completely out of cabinet, having served in every government since 1994, and will be replaced by Patricia De Lille. Former KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala takes over from De Lille in the public works portfolio, while Thembi Nkadimeng comes in as minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, replacing Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who is now minister in the presidency responsible for women, children and people with disabilities. 

The crucial position of public service and administration, which has been vacant since the departure of Ayanda Dlodlo to the World Bank in April 2022, will now be occupied by former Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiewet, while deputy transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga has been promoted to transport minister, a post made vacant by the election of Fikile Mbalula as ANC secretary general in December.
Zizi Kodwa moves from minister in the presidency for state security to sports and arts and culture, replacing Nathi Mthethwa, who has also been dropped from the cabinet.