Wednesday, 28 February 2018 00:00

President’s balancing act

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PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle is a careful balance between inspiring public confidence and managing the ANC’s internal unity accord, following its December elective conference, analysts said yesterday.


The composition of Ramaphosa’s national executive has seen several changes – with several supporters of former ANC president Jacob Zuma getting the chop, others being retained and, at the same time, staunch Zuma detractors who were removed during his tenure making Cabinet comebacks.

In addition, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who contested Ramaphosa for the ANC presidency at the party’s December elective conference, and David Mabuza, who was instrumental in Ramaphosa edging out Dlamini Zuma for the ANC throne, were appointed as Minister in the Presidency, and deputy president of the country, respectively. Political analyst Levy Ndou said Ramaphosa had to be sensitive to the existing balance of forces in the ANC following its elective conference that saw a mixed bag of leaders being elected into positions of leadership within the party.

“He consulted ANC leaders, the ANC leagues and the alliance partners. What he did was in line with what happened in Nasrec, by ensuring the two factions that went into Nasrec are included in Cabinet and given strategic positions. “And some people who were associated with poor performance and corruption were not included and given the cut,” Ndou said. Prof Sipho Seepe said yesterday that Ramaphosa had to be careful not to isolate powerful constituencies in the ANC by axing the likes of Bathabile Dlamini and Nomvula Mokonyane.


“Bathabile claims a strong constituency in the ANC Women’s League and if outside Cabinet, you would not want to have people who can do a lot of harm to you in terms of mobilisation to be against you. He had to manage that.” Regarding the ANC’s unity accord – as well as its campaign towards next year’s general elections – Seepe said Ramaphosa had to consider elements of continuity, unity and the economy, which informed the composition of his national executive.

“Most of the members there reflected an element of continuity as they were there in the previous administration. “He also focused on the economy by bringing back Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene,” Seepe said. “Others were rewarded for their loyalty in being at the forefront of his campaign. “Every president would like to have his own team and people that he is comfortable with but he also has to manage his own interests.

“Bongani Bongo, Nathi Nhleko and others were removed on the basis of  their allegiance to former president Jacob Zuma and others were rewarded for their allegiance to Ramaphosa. “There is no way the president was not going to reward them,” Seepe said. Ramaphosa said during his reply to the state of the nation address of those who wanted him to orchestrate a clean sweep in his Cabinet reshuffle: “Whatever views one might hold about members of Cabinet, this does not justify in any way the kind of character assassination and insults we have heard.”

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