While President Cyril Ramaphosa is officially the man in charge at the Union Buildings, ascending to power 20 years after he was last touted for the Presidency, there won’t be any time for him to bask in any glory.
His first major task is the announcement of his deputy president and the rest of his Cabinet.
Ramaphosa is walking a tightrope as he balances the need to appease supporters, quell the so-called “fight back” faction in the ANC, calm investors and instil confidence in South Africans when he names his Cabinet this week.
The Constitution states that the president must assume office within five days of being elected.
However, the Constitution is less clear about the appointment of the president’s executive, only saying that the deputy president must be a member of the National Assembly and that the head of state may not appoint more than two Cabinet ministers who are not parliamentarians.
It was widely speculated that Ramaphosa would appoint his Cabinet soon after being inaugurated as president. But that plan was seemingly halted with David Mabuza’s call to have has swearing-in as an MP postponed until he meets the ANC’s integrity commission about political clouds hanging over his head.
With South Africans eagerly awaiting Ramaphosa’s announcement of what is expected to be a leaner and reconfigured Cabinet, the Presidency released a statement on Sunday confirming that he would make his list of ministers public later in the week, without giving a specific day.
This followed reports that the announcement would be made on Monday afternoon.
Internal sources earlier told journalists that Ramaphosa would announce who made the cut before the end of Sunday. The date then shifted to Monday.
However, Ramaphosa quelled rumours when his office released the statement on Sunday.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa is emphatic that the new executive must possess requisite skills, experience, representivity and a commitment to the public service that will take the work of the 6th administration forward,” Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko said in the statement.
What is holding up the president?
The delay could be attributed to two processes: The ANC integrity commission’s report on members flagged ahead of the elections, and the Public Protector’s findings against former public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
The findings may make it difficult for Ramaphosa to appoint Mabuza, Gordhan and former mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe to his Cabinet.
The integrity commission, which created questions surrounding Mabuza’s and Mantashe’s suitability for Parliament, is expected to hand over its report to the party’s top six early this week.
On Sunday, ANC spokesperson Dakota Logoete confirmed to News24 that all 22 members flagged in the commission’s initial report would appear before the body to state their cases.
These interviews would last until Monday, Legoete added.
The national executive committee (NEC) roped the commission in after widespread criticism of the party’s national and provincial parliamentary lists, compiled ahead of the May 8 elections.
Nomvula Mokonyane and Malusi Gigaba also turned down their seats in Parliament. Both had been flagged by the integrity commission.
Gigaba appeared before the commission alongside Mantashe on Friday, Legoete confirmed.
On Friday, the Public Protector cleared Mabuza in two of her reports.
She found that he was not involved in the irregular procurement of four luxury vehicles, worth R5m, for his office when he was Mpumalanga premier.
He was also cleared of involvement in the Mpumalanga government’s event management contract for former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.
The Gordhan question
Ramaphosa ally Gordhan may also come under fire as the top six juggles names for Cabinet positions.
This after a report by the Public Protector’s office found Gordhan guilty of “improper conduct” for his approval of then deputy SA Revenue Services commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement and pay out.
In her remedial findings, Mkhwebane urged Ramaphosa to take appropriate disciplinary action against Gordhan for violating the Constitution. Gordhan has since initiated steps to have the report reviewed.
Speculation is rife that Naledi Pandor and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could be in the running for deputy president.
However, Pandor avoided answering this question when asked about her chances of being appointed deputy president at the inauguration on Saturday, saying the president was the one who would appoint his number two.
The NEC is also expected to meet on Friday for an ordinary sitting of the committee. Those flagged by the integrity commission and Cabinet could form part of the discussion.
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