What the cabinet may look like
Well, the election’s over. Thank goodness for that. Now we wait for the results and the inevitable duplicitous horse-trading that might go on if coalitions need to be formed anywhere, whether in national or provincial government.
No party will tell you what they’re thinking or doing.
And they’ll always have perfectly reasonable-sounding explanations for getting into bed with people they were denouncing as the devils incarnate just last week. They’re done with you. They can do what they like now for another five years.
But don’t worry, I have news.
There is a list floating around, (of course there’s a list floating around), of what Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet might look like, assuming the Institute of Race Relations polling has been a bit off and the ANC gets a solid mandate in the days ahead.
It’s quite exciting, which is probably a good reason for not believing it.
But it is only 25 members strong and contains neither Bathabile Dlamini nor Nomvula Mokonyane.
I can’t go through the whole list, but here are a few other missing names:
● D D Mabuza, currently deputy president and deputy ANC president, is not on the list – either because he is genuinely ill and not simply being poisoned, as the explanation for his curious trips to Russia goes, or because he is a liability and one of the names mentioned as dodgy by the ANC’s integrity commission;
● Pravin Gordhan is not on the list.
Here I would suspect simple exhaustion.
That man has been to hell and back, thanks to his integrity, in a corrupted ANC over the past five years.
It is hard to imagine Ramaphosa expecting more;
● Tito Mboweni is not on the list.
Equally, that would not be surprising seeing as he has told the whole human race he would not be back after the election.
Pity though, it was amusing while it lasted;
● Blade Nzimande is not on the list, though he is a close ally of Ramaphosa.
If this is true I can only assume it would have been at his request.
Exhaustion, too, is writ large all over Nzimande’s face.
To save you worrying, I can’t find Derek Hanekom or Rob Davies on the list.
But who is on it is really interesting.
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma becomes deputy president of the country.
I think this is a terrific idea. Since losing the party election in December 2017 she has put her nose to the grindstone and done her job.
She hasn’t played politics, and I keep coming across people who have dealt with her and who have nothing but praise for her work ethic and attention to detail.
Both the departments of trade and industry, and of economic development disappear.
Ebrahim Patel, in this list, becomes minister of economic sustainability – by my guess a sort of economic super minister of the kind who, hopefully, can cut through the current policy confusion and create some degree of certainty for potential investors.
Of course, not all investors approve of Patel, but it isn’t his job to be nice to them.
It is his job to attract them and make sure they earn a competitive return.
Broadly, the cabinet this list purports to reveal is shot through with much more pragmatism than we have become used to in SA under the ANC.
Dear old Jeff Radebe breaks the world record by remaining minister not only of energy but with mining attached to it.
Gwede Mantashe is nowhere to be seen.
Senzo Mchunu, who has helped Ramaphosa through many battles in KwaZulu-Natal, becomes minister of public enterprises.
The extremely sane Jackson Mthembu becomes minister of communications services (presumably combining the post office, the digital transition and the SABC).
Barbara Creecy becomes minister of finance.
I wish I had written this when I first thought she would, when she was placed on the ANC’s parliamentary list. She’ll be absolutely fine. But even if the list is someone’s fancy and is not real, it misses an obvious win that Ramaphosa should think about carefully.
An extremely bright young man, Ronald Lamola, is down as minister of justice and rehabilitation.
I’ve met Lamola and he is impressive and without question presidential material if brought along properly.
But Ramaphosa’s opportunity now is to give Lamola a real test by following the British example and creating, under a powerful home affairs minister (Lamola), a department controlling immigration, justice, correctional services, intelligence and police.
That not only gets the cabinet below 25 but gets both Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma two competent super ministers in Patel and Lamola to leave most of the day-to-day running of the state to a relatively small group of strong ministers and officials loyal to them.
A coherent home affairs department is critical to the success of Ramaphosa’s term, if he gets one.
It will decide whether we continue to try to scrape growth out of the dwindling skills set we have, or have the courage and ambition to import a million skilled people into the country in the next five years with one simple proviso – that they each create at least four jobs.