/ 30 June 2024

Ramaphosa to announce cabinet at 9pm on Sunday

Serious Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Dwayne Senior/Getty Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa will late on Sunday announce his cabinet, his office said, after the ANC and the Democratic Alliance tied up the loose ends to their coalition pact.

The DA on Sunday concluded its internal decision-making as to whom it will field for six ministerial posts, and as many deputy ministries, and submitted the names to the president, paving the way for the much-awaited announcement.

The party agreed to a revised offer from the president which will see it fill the agriculture, home affairs, basic education, public works, communications and digital technologies and forestry, fisheries and the environment.

The communications portfolio committee is a compromise after Ramaphosa initially offered the trade and industry portfolio but supplanted this with tourism after senior figures in the ANC baulked at the prospect given the DA’s ambivalence, at best, on affirmative action and fears that it would not stick to the script on competition regulations.

Ramaphosa offered tourism instead, which the DA deemed a lesser portfolio.

After a meeting with DA leader John Steenhuisen on Friday to resolve the impasse, he also upped his offer by adding two deputy ministries, including one in the finance portfolio.

The offer also included the deputy ministry of the departments of trade and industry and that of energy and electricity.

This was on the DA’s wishlist and helped to bring an end to two weeks of mutual brinkmanship in which the ANC held the upper hand, but still could not afford to walk away.

That would have translated into a tie-up with the Economic Freedom Fighters and Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe which would have been a suicide pact for Ramaphosa’s renewal drive and risked his early recall, with the Phala Phala saga as pretext. 

Ramaphosa has made plain his impatience to lock down a deal and name his new executive, and there is also some time pressure on the president in the form of the parliamentary schedule.

The National Council of Provinces is set to convene a plenary sitting of the legislature on Tuesday where members would elect the permanent deputy chair of the NCOP, the programming whip of the chamber and house chairpersons.

Members will also elect representatives to the Pan African Parliament, the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum, as well as, importantly, representatives to the Judicial Services Commission and the Magistrate’s Commission. 

All of the above demand members’ presence.

Late last week,  Ramaphosa announced 18 July as the opening date for parliament, in another sign of his exasperation with what he termed “paralysis” due to the to and fro with the DA.

On Sunday afternoon, the president met with the leadership of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, an indication that he was preparing to push ahead with an announcement.

He would, before he made a public announcement, as per custom, first call each minister to inform them personally of their appointment.

“Nobody is leaving their phones,” a source said.

Senior Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa, the former chairperson of parliament’s watchdog Standing Committee on Public Accounts, said the party had concluded its own process of giving names for ministerial appointments to the president “days ago”.

Sources within the IFP would not be drawn on how many portfolios the party had been given, saying talks centred on political principles and the numbers had deliberately been left to Ramaphosa and IFP president Velinkosini Hlabisa to agree on in one on one discussions.

Ramaphosa was also expected to give a cabinet post to the GOOD Party, and is likely to do the same with the Patriotic Alliance and the United Democratic Movement.