South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced his new Cabinet, slashing from 36 to 28 the number of ministers, including two Indian-origins, days after he was sworn in at a stadium in the capital Pretoria. In the new Cabinet announced late Wednesday, half the new ministers are women, making South Africa one of the world’s few gender-balanced governments.
Ramaphosa, 66, led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to victory in elections earlier this month with a majority of 57.5 per cent, the smallest since the party came to power 25 years ago.
“In the election of the 8th of May, South Africans provided this administration with a clear mandate to accelerate inclusive economic growth, act with greater urgency to tackle poverty, improve government services, fight corruption and end state capture,” Ramaphosa said in a nationally-televised broadcast to announce the appointments.
“If we are to give effect to this mandate, we need a capable, efficient and ethical government,” he said on Wednesday.
Two Indian-origin ministers have been retained from the previous administration.
Pravin Gordhan, who received the Padma Bhushan for distinguished service in January this year, was reappointed as Minister of Public Enterprises to continue the challenge of rescuing embattled state-owned enterprises such as national electricity supplier Eskom.
Ebrahim Patel, who has achieved success as Minster of Economic Affairs, has been retained in that portfolio, with the former Ministry of Trade and Industries now combined into his Department.
More than 30,000 people gathered to witness the swearing in ceremony of Ramaphosa at a stadium in the capital Pretoria.
Ramaphosa has vowed to tackle corruption and rejuvenate the country’s struggling economy.
“In undertaking this review, we have been guided by the need to build a modern developmental state that has the means to drive economic and social transformation, to embrace innovation and to direct effort and resources towards where they will have the greatest impact,” Ramaphosa said.
Keeping his promise of reducing the number of ministries from 36 in the administration of former President Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa appointed only 28 ministers, combining the rest into other portfolios.
Amid widespread concern over a number of ministers from the previous administration who have been accused of involvement in state capture or corruption, Ramaphosa reaffirmed his position by not appointing those who appeared the most tainted, but retained a few.
“If we are to make effective progress in building the South Africa that we all want, it is important that we deploy into positions of responsibility people who are committed, capable and hard-working, and who have integrity,” the President said.
“The people who I am appointing today must realise that the expectations of the South African people have never been greater and that they will shoulder a great responsibility,” he said.
“Their performance ? individually and collectively ? will be closely monitored against specific outcomes. Where implementation is unsatisfactory, action will be taken,” he said.
The business leaders welcomed the president’s announcement.
“I like the idea that there will be deliverables and people will be held accountable,” said Lloyd Theunissen of the Congress of Business and Economics, a subsidiary of the erstwhile Transvaal Indian Congress.
“Let’s hope and trust that the new cabinet will do just that and make a difference in our lives,” Theunissen added.