/ 15 June 2024

Ramaphosa to appoint ‘inclusive’ cabinet after inauguration, says  Mbalula

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ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula. (Photo by Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)

Ministers from the parties involved in the government of national unity (GNU) will be appointed to president Cyril Ramaphosa’s new “inclusive” cabinet after his inauguration on Wednesday.

In terms of the framework agreement signed among the parties, the appointments will be made in accordance with the size of the vote share each of them secured, with Ramaphosa consulting his fellow leaders as to who to appoint.

ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula told a media briefing on the sidelines of the election of National Council of the Provinces chairperson Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane on Saturday that the party would continue talks with its coalition partners over the next few days.

The breakthrough agreement with the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was signed on Friday morning and resulted in the three parties – and others supportive of the GNU – voting as a bloc to elect a speaker, deputy speaker and the president that day.

The GNU parties also drew in the National Freedom Party (NFP) in KwaZulu-Natal, where they defeated the Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) party and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) by a margin of 41-39 to take control of the province.

The support of the other parties meant that Mtsweni-Tsipane and chief whip Kenny Mmolemang were elected unopposed by the NCOP on Saturday – and ensured the re-election of Panyaza Lesufi as the premier of Gauteng the day before.

The talks around the national cabinet – and those of  Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – would continue with “all parties” over coming days as “we move towards the steps to form the government of national unity,” Mbalula said.

Mbalula said the election of the president and parliament presiding officers with the assistance of its partners “affirms the ANC’s initiative to advocate for the coming together in a government of national unity in the interests of all South Africa”. 

The partners had embraced the “Statement of Intent of the 2024 Government of National Unity”,  which outlines foundational principles, a basic minimum programme of priorities and created mechanisms through which it would work.

It also creates conflict resolution mechanisms to deal with disputes among the parties and a framework through which additional parties may join the coalition after the original parties signed.

Mbalula said the minimum programme would focus on economic inclusion, industrialisation, transformation and job creation, protection of workers’ and women’s rights, improving and extending basic services.

Other areas of focus were tackling the high cost of living; improving education, skills and health; the fight against corruption and crime, and progressive foreign policy that “reflects our national values and interests,” Mbalula said.

The parties have also committed to an all inclusive national dialogue with civil society, labour, business and other sectors to “discuss critical challenges facing the nation,” while the ANC would be engaging its members and its alliance partners.

Mbalula said the positive developments of the past two days had “brough relief and a renewed sense of hope”. 

“We have demonstrated that we are ready to set aside our political differences, find innovative ways to work together in the interest of our nation and our people as a whole,” Mbalula said.

In response to questions about a potential backlash from its members and alliance partners over working with the DA, first deputy secretary general Nomvula Mokonyane said they had interacted with their alliance partners over concerns that worker rights would not be impacted by the GNU agreement.

The alliance political council would meet, while there would be an interaction with ANC structures.

“Where we stand now, the alliance is on board,” Mokonyane said.

Mbalula said that the ANC had reached out to other parties who had refused to work with them – or had imposed conditions around who else could participate – but that the bulk of parties were in agreement with the GNU.

He said the discussions with the DA and other “strategic opponents”  had been “difficult” but “very interesting” and had been “infested with compromises” but that they had “worked together to advance the interest of the people of South Africa”. 

Mbalula said the disciplinary action by the ANC would continue against Jacob Zuma, who now leads the Umkhonto weSizwe party.

Zuma, whose party boycotted the National Assembly and is disputing the outcome of the elections, is due to address the media in Johannesburg on Sunday for the first time since he threatened “trouble” if the election result was declared.