‘Trust deficit among new ANC top brass holds SA at ransom’

South Africans are falling through the cracks of a divided ruling party with ostentatious resolutions while President Cyril Ramaphosa dilly-dallies over the much-awaited cabinet reshuffle.

As the country remains in limbo over the anticipated cabinet shake-up that is expected to include the appointment of a deputy president and electricity minister, the Presidency has confirmed that Ramaphosa will ring the changes “in a matter of days”.

However, that does not clear uncertainties as the date is undetermined following endless speculation since the ANC national conference in December 2022.

Ramaphosa may be caught between a rock and a hard place, according to political analyst Ralph Mathekga, who said the president is probably still mulling over who to appoint to his cabinet, who to keep, and who to axe.

“It appears to me that perhaps Ramaphosa generally is reluctant to reshuffle,” Mathekga said.

“But the question remains, is the president reluctant to reshuffle his cabinet because he believes that the leaders that will be coming from his own party will be able to serve him?

“How is he expecting to function within the party if that is the case? Is he going to deliver the mandate without cabinet?”

According to Matshekga, the delays in Ramaphosa to reshuffle his cabinet and appoint Paul Mashatile as his second in command indicate that there is a trust deficit within the newly elected ANC top seven.

“It is very strange in a sense that when they came out of the ANC national conference, they were talking unity.

“They were all focused on taking the party forward, and now we hear of a perceived reluctance on the side of the president regarding Paul Mashatile.

“That paints a different picture of the leadership that came out of Nasrec [national conference] without unity.”

Mathekga explained further: “It seems like we have arrived at the point where the ascension of one leader is delaying cabinet reshuffle.”

According to Mathekga, the appointment of a deputy president is a stand-alone issue that can be handled with or without the cabinet being reshuffled.

He said the president’s reluctance to replace former deputy president David Mabuza has created an unnecessary stand-off between the two bigwigs, noting that Ramaphosa should have by now appointed a new deputy, if he was serious about his job.

During his brother’s funeral in Mpumalanga earlier in February, Mabuza announced that he had tendered his resignation to pave the way for Mashatile, who was given the nod as ANC deputy president in December.

At the time, Mabuza told the mourners that Mashatile seemed restless, which is why he had chosen to step down to pave the way for him.

“I am making space for the one who was elected at the conference, because I can see [that] he is also making a few moves,” Mabuza told the mourners.

“So, now I am also in a rush to give them space. I spoke to the president and told him [that] I would step down.”

However, the president turned down his resignation, asking him to stay a bit longer until the details of his departure had been finalised.

On Wednesday the Presidency confirmed that the details of Mabuza’s resignation have been finalised and that his resignation has been accepted by Ramaphosa.

Despite this, the country is still without a deputy president.

Asked about who would take up the country’s second-in-command hot seat, ANC leaders including Mashatile affirm that “it is the prerogative of the president”.

Early in February, Mashatile was sworn in as an MP, warming his way up to the Union Buildings.

Despite word on the street that Ramaphosa is being pressured by some in his inner circle not to appoint Mashatile as his second in command, the former ANC treasurer-general has been treading carefully not to rock the boat and dig his own grave.

His rise to power has rattled some of his colleagues in the ruling party, especially allies of Ramaphosa, who did not prefer him as his deputy.

These include the so-called “Chris Hani cabal”, a group of ANC heavyweights from Eastern Cape’s Chris Hani district municipality, who fielded Oscar Mabuyane as their preferred deputy president candidate in Nasrec.

Mathekga said the ANC leaders saw this coming and pushed through the conference and now they are acting astounded by expectations that they need to uphold their mandate.

“The leaders should have anticipated that this was going to be the case given how things played out at the conference,” Mathekga said.

“It is quite interesting that now members of the party want to act surprised about what is expected of them. I do not understand what the basis of the delay is or the reluctance.

“Mashatile went to the NUM [National Union of Mineworkers] special congress [this week] talking about unity and the whole party keeps on talking about this unity, but it appears the ANC is even more fragile.

“How long will this stand-off take, if there is even such a stand-off? I find it strange that leaders of the party who preach about unity are now saying the cabinet reshuffle is compact. It shows there is no trust among the top seven.”

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