Ramaphosa holds future of ANC in his hands

The question to ask is whether the cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa will resolve any of our crises. While the country expected extensive changes this has turned out to be a minor reshuffle with little significant changes.

The long-awaited cabinet reshuffle came when South Africa was facing a grim moment with several socio-economic challenges and political instability – the biggest one being the rolling blackouts affecting our economy negatively.

While many of us may argue about how fit for purpose the new ministers are, and their ability to deliver and stick to the commitments outlined in the state of the nation address and the budget speech, South Africans will be closely monitoring the new Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s performance. This is likely to have major implications on ANC’s victory or decline in 2024.

The energy crisis affects economic growth and investment prospects. Rolling blackouts destroy businesses and compromise the production of food and provision of social services. It has been reported that the electricity crisis costs the economy about R899-million a day. Surely this is the most worrying factor for citizens.

In his opening remarks during his announcement, Ramaphosa said: “The purpose of the changes is to ensure the government is properly capacitated and directed to give effect to the commitments made in the state of the nation address and budget speech. We have said that the people of South Africa want
action, they want solutions, and they want government to work for them.”

Following this, what Ramaphosa and his administration do from now till 2024 national elections will certainly make or break the ruling party. The quality of the cabinet Ramaphosa has will certainly change the direction and outlook of our country socially and economically for the next few years.

In his January 8 statement, Ramaphosa said 2023 was the year for decisive action to advance the people’s interests and renew the movement. I am of the view the success of this statement solely lies on Ramaphosa’s ability to appoint cabinet ministers who are capable and committed to solving South Africa’s mounting crises.

Looking at the changes to this national executive, one is left with an impression that this is perhaps another one of Ramaphosa’s theatrics. When he commenced his presidency in 2018, Ramaphosa promised to reduce the size of the national executive and re-align government departments. He reiterated the same in his 2023 address. However, all he has done is simply widen and expand his cabinet. Even with this increase in ministries, there has not been significant change translating to concrete changes to the lives of South Africans. Instead, the greater the cabinet size, the more financial implications this has on the already suffering taxpayers. Will we ever see a less bloated cabinet in the “new dawn” promised to South Africans?

The build up to this reshuffle presented an opportunity for Ramaphosa to redeem the confidence many citizens have lost in his ability to act on his promises. South Africans were still hopeful that Ramaphosa would show his strength and boldness and announce sweeping changes. But they were left disappointed. I was particularly disappointed that some departments were left as they were.

One concerning factor is the shift of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to the Presidency to assume responsibility for women, youth, and persons with disability.

Youth unemployment is persistent with at least 8.9-million young people not in employment, education, or training. South Africa’s unemployment is a ticking time bomb. In many instances, young people have said that those in power are disconnected from the realities of what it is like to be a young person in this country. I do not think 74-year-old Dlamini-Zuma will understand these realities.

I think about how the state, justice system and the police have failed women in this country considering the scourge of gender-based violence. Will the minister manage this crisis? She could redeem herself if she makes a success out of this.

I do, however, need to commend Ramaphosa for the appointment of the new Cooperative Governance Traditional Affairs Minister, Thembi Nkadimeng. Her wealth of experience, having been a councillor, Polokwane mayor, and later the president of the South African
Local Government Association, placed her in serious contention for the portfolio.

The ANC is facing the reality of a coalition government in 2024. One would have hoped that following the election of the new national executive committee crucial matters of socio-economic development would have been treated with urgency.

We need a new way of thinking to create solutions that South Africans will resonate with.Follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook Page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa. To Subscribe to Sunday World, click here.

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