There is much speculation that President Cyril Ramaphosa is poised to reshuffle his cabinet. The African National Congress national executive committee met at the weekend and the Working Committee is meeting on Monday – but Ace Magashule, the ANC secretary general, says the reshuffle is not, and has not been, on the agenda.
So the speculation continues about who would be in a new trimmed-down national executive. The executive is over 70 members at present, and Ramaphosa has not removed any of the ministers (or their deputies) appointed by former President Jacob Zuma – yet. But he has promised to re-engineer the number of government departments and, as a consequence, the number of ministries.
Ranjeni Munusamy, a Sunday Times columnist has suggested that Ramaphosa may well bring in opposition MPs into his cabinet. But there have been no names mentioned in the media speculation. One proposal has been made publicly by Helen Zille’s former speechwriter, Jon Cayzer. He believes it would be a coup for Ramaphosa to appoint Zille.
Indeed, Ramaphosa can appoint two cabinet ministers from outside – so Zille would not need to ‘cross the floor’ so to speak. She could sit as an independent MP and take up the position of Minister of Basic Education – or indeed, Higher Education. That would take her out of the awkward fix she finds herself in her own party. She is restricted from willy-nilly tweeting – as a consequence of the dispute over a ‘colonialism’ tweet last year – and all her speeches are checked by party head office – in case they contravene party protocol.
Such an appointment would take her out of the Premiership of the Western Cape, allowing for new blood to be appointed by the Democratic Alliance there – at a time when Zille is treading on political hot water. Indeed, Ramaphosa would be dealing the DA a body blow – as it is well known that Zille is a huge vote – and funds – driver for the national official opposition. What a coup it would be for the President to gain a former DA leader into his cabinet ranks, especially as she has distanced herself from the DA in recent tweets.
As Cayzer puts it: Educators are ‘nation builders’, to use the South Korean term, and education transcends party politics. My fear is that when Helen’s term (as Premier) expires soon (at the elections in 2019) her institutional knowledge in driving up education standards and matric results will be lost, because she has been sidelined by her party. The President, in my view, has an obligation to put together a cabinet of the best and brightest given the parlous state of the economy – especially on the supply side. Equally, if Cyril Ramaphosa invites her, Helen would have an obligation – indeed a duty – to accept the offer for the sake of South Africa’s children.
Another woman over whom Ramaphosa must be musing, deciding whether or not to appoint to the cabinet, is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. He is clearly doing so as the ANC official spokeswoman, Pule Mabe, has made a song and dance about media speculation in this direction. She told eNCA: “Along the way the name of (Nkosazana) Dlamini-Zuma has been raised in a manner that begins to undermine her own integrity and standing in the movement. So I don’t think we should continue to do that. The unity of the ANC is also going to require the media to work closely with us to make sure we achieve this.”
Mabe told the television channel that the cadres of the ANC could “never be against each other” because the selection procedures were based on supported approvals. One would take it as read that Dlamini-Zuma is, indeed, headed for the cabinet. For what position, only Ramaphosa knows?
And will Ramaphosa carry out the reshuffle this week? Only he knows the answer to that.