For weeks there has been major speculation of who will be included or left out in the new cabinet. Those who waited in bated breath could finally breathe a sigh of relief as the announcement was made last night by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The announcement was first met with the cut-down of departments from 36 to 28. Many welcomed the move as a way of cutting costs and the funds being put to better use. The cut down of departments did not mean the cut down of ministers, with a total of 5 portfolios with two deputies.
Some of the departments were not simply cut but were merged with other departments such as Trade and Industry, which was combined with Economic Development while Higher Education and Training was combined with Science and Technology.
The new cabinet came with a few surprises, the first was that it is made up of 50% women. Yes, even in 2019 we are still applauding the inclusion of women.
The appointment also saw new faces such as Ronald Lamola newly-appointed Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Sihle Zikalala as Minister of Economic Development and Tourism amongst others. The biggest surprise of all was the appointment of Patricia De Lille, the leader of GOOD, as a minister.
Many are calling this the biggest comeback of all time, as not so long ago Aunty Pat was fighting for her stay and to clear her name in the Democratic Alliance. She also managed to garner 2 seats with a 4-month-old party.
It is evident the president was looking for a clean slate, an effort to remove any dark cloud looming from former President Zuma’s era. This saw the likes of Bathabile Dlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane and Jeff Radebe were chopped off the list but hopes for a corruption-free cabinet weren’t quite met. A questionable few are still looming amongst the ranks such as Bheki Cele and Blade Nzimande. They are still under investigation for allegedly defying the Public Protectors orders.
Despite the welcoming of new young members of parliament a few weeks back, another contra in the new cabinet is that the average age of ministers still remains at 60 years old.
The question of land has been at the forefront of discussions for the longest time. The merging of agriculture, land reform and rural development is positive. Headed by Thoko Didiza who had prior been the minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs between 1999 and 2006. With her extensive knowledge, there is hope that she will be of better guidance on a better way of how to handle problems.
The return of the infamous Fikile Mbalula may be one of the pros made the president, it is no secret that Mr Mbalula is a liker of things. That does not take away the fact that he is a doer and task driven, his experience in previous portfolios is a testimony to this.
There is a long journey that awaits the newly elected ministers as the president promised to be nothing but stern on them, signing a performance agreement with all ministers and deputy ministers.