/ 10 March 2023

More is less, except when it comes to electricity, as Ramaphosa culls his cabinet

Nathi Mthethwa
Out: Former ministers Nathi Mthethwa (above) and Lindiwe Sisulu did not keep their jobs this week. Photo: Siyabulela Duda


The cabinet reshuffle by President Cyri Ramaphosa has come and gone.

The head of state has finally finished dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s — and applying his mind, mullingly — and has named the team that will allegedly help him run the country, between now and next year’s elections.

The president has appointed and disappointed — more of the latter, unfortunately — adding two new bodies to his cabinet in a bid to keep the lights on and his party in power after May 2024.

How appointing more ministers will help Ramaphosa to achieve his stated aim of reducing the size of his government is a bit beyond me.

According to Cyril, the whole more-is-less thing will only be temporary — along with the electricity ministry, occupied since Monday night by the president’s former head of infrastructure, Kgosientsho “Sputla” Ramokgopa.

Ramaphosa reckons that the presidency and treasury will come up with a plan to cull the size of cabinet, which will be done after the national and provincial elections.

My money’s on it never happening, whether it’s the ANC governing solo or through a coalition after the elections. 

It’s hard to picture the comrades — and whoever they do business with to stay in power nationally and in the provinces — voluntarily cutting themselves free of the public purse.

Ramokgopa’s job vibes similarly.

The minister of electricity is a temporary gig — a transitional ministry, to quote the boss — and one which will come to an end if, and when, Eskom is fixed and the lights are back on.

Ramokgopa’s ultimate objective is, therefore, to get himself fired — to render himself superfluous to needs, obsolete, redundant, no longer necessary — by doing his job and fixing the electricity supply.

The day our man gets it right, he’s out the door.


It’s a bit of a daunting task — not just philosophically — but judging from the videos of Ramokgopa electrifying the dance floor that have surfaced on social media since his appointment, he at least comes with some serious energy.

And some moves.

Given the state of Eskom’s power stations — we were back on stages four and five of load-shedding before Ramokgopa got to the office on Tuesday morning — there’s little chance that our brand-new minister will be working his last shift any time in the foreseeable future.

Like many of my fellow South Africans, I’m wondering how those who got the chop from the head of state on Monday night got home from work.

Were the former ministers of condolences and tourism, Nathi Mthethwa and Lindiwe Sisulu, allowed to use their official ministerial vehicle and those lovely blue lights for a last time?

Or were they forced to make their own way to their ministerial residences, assuming that they were allowed to sleep there on Monday, given that their ministerial status and the privileges — well, some of them — were out the window?

Was Mthethwa allowed to take his glow-in-the-dark R22 million flagpole — or his R30 million orchestra — home to the Kingdom with him?

Nyambose must have battled to fit those into the Uber — along with God knows how many funeral programmes and a celebrity spokesperson or two — when he cleaned out his office on Wednesday night.

The struggle continues.

I’m particularly worried about Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the former minister of women, children and people with disabilities, who was reportedly in New York City, when Ramaphosa dropped the hammer.

Was the former minister allowed to catch the return business class flight from the Big Apple booked for her before she was fired?

Was she downgraded and flown home with the punters in economy as a common-or-garden MP, or did Nkoana-Mashabane have to cough up for the flight herself and make her own way back to Mzansi on Tuesday morning?

Awkward, but nowhere near as awkward as Chief Justice Raymond Zondo — and Zizi Kodwa — must have felt during the latter’s swearing in as Mthethwa’s replacement.

Not that long ago Zondo recommended that Ramaphosa consider firing Kodwa as state security minister over his relationship with former EOH boss Jehan Mackay.

Awkward, indeed.

I blame Tottenham Hotspur and not political factors —or a lack of talent — for Sisulu being canned and replaced with Patricia de Lille, an opposition leader, the symbolism of which must have stung somewhat.

Spurs have been ending careers — footballers and coaches alike — since the middle of the last century, so Sisulu losing her job after getting involved with the Lilywhites was pretty much inevitable.

Written in the stars.