President Cyril Ramaphosa has completed his consultations with the ANC’s alliance partners on the Cabinet reshuffle, after meetings with Cosatu and the SA Communist Party (SACP) this weekend.
Sources told City Press that he was expected to announce his new Cabinet very soon.
City Press understands that Ramaphosa has been engaging with the alliance partners since he hinted about the reconfiguration and realignment of government a few weeks ago.
Ramaphosa had one-on-one consultative meetings with Cosatu and SACP leaders on Friday regarding the imminent Cabinet reshuffle, according to sources.
Ramaphosa met with Cosatu general secretary Solly Phetoe and his SACP counterpart Solly Mapaila separately to discuss his intentions.
On Tuesday, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula told the media that, although Ramaphosa would use his prerogative in his Cabinet reshuffle, he would consult with the governing party and its alliance partners before making the announcement.
The president is expected to also announce the new minister in the presidency responsible for electricity.
Ramaphosa announced during his state of the nation address (Sona) on February 9 that he intended to appoint a minister of electricity to urgently deal with the country’s energy crisis.
Since then, the president has been severely criticised by various sectors for delaying that appointment while the rolling blackouts have escalated from stage 4 to stage 6.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla confirmed the meeting between Ramaphosa and Phetoe.
Yes, there was a one-on-one meeting between Phetoe and the president, but I am not privy to the discussions that took place.
City Press has seen a video clip in which Mapaila confirmed that they have been in consultations with the ANC, a process he said was ongoing.
He said they discussed the Cabinet reshuffle in principle and the focus was on government’s performance.
Mapaila said they had made suggestions to Ramaphosa on what changes to take into consideration.
“We hope the president will take our ideas and suggestions [we made to him], which we think need interventions, based on his constitutional mandate.”
Regarding the minister of electricity, Mapaila said there was no engagement before Ramaphosa’s Sona, but they had discussed the issue afterwards.
“Firstly, South Africa is facing a huge electricity crisis and, on that basis, bringing in someone who will focus on that on a daily basis … to solve this problem becomes an important intervention.
We respect the president’s intervention and look forward to seeing what his ideas and the main focus of the new minister are.
He said what the SACP wanted was the resolution of the electricity crisis South Africa was facing.
“Overall, we want the electricity and energy systems to work so that we can go back to normal and have energy available in our country,” he said.
Mapaila said the SACP did not expect excuses such as those given by former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter after his failure to fix the power utility.
“He [De Ruyter] could not even take responsibility [for his failure] but felt he needed to blame it on someone when he was given a full mandate [to fix Eskom].
“He could have just come out and said the job was too big for him,” said Mapaila.
He said De Ruyter, who left the power utility abruptly this week, had presided over a declining Eskom and led it further down to where it was today.
The SACP was shocked that De Ruyter blamed the policy when he was given all the resources to deal with the problem, Mapaila added.
City Press understands that, while Cosatu and the SACP accepted Ramaphosa’s decision on the impending reshuffle, the alliance partners questioned his reasoning. They felt the changes were mainly aimed at awarding those who emerged victorious at the ANC’s national conference in December.
Both organisations also questioned why Ramaphosa had made a unilateral decision on the appointment of a minister of electricity.
The SACP, whose national chairperson Blade Nzimande and his deputy Thulas Nxesi are set to be affected by the reshuffle, were also part of the discussions.
Nzimande is the minister of higher education, science and innovation, while Nxesi is in charge of labour and employment.
While sources said both were likely to be removed from their respective positions, it was still not clear whether they would be sacked or redeployed.
READ: Is Sputla the new electricity minister?
A senior Cosatu leader privy to the consultations said Ramaphosa’s real intentions for the Cabinet overhaul were questionable.
The leader said: “We understand that it is the president’s prerogative to appoint and unappoint, but we did not get the real reason for the wholesale shake-up of the Cabinet. Why?”
According to the SACP sources close to the alliance engagements, Ramaphosa was not sincere in what he called “evaluation of capacity and principle” as reasons for doing the reshuffle.
“Evaluation and capacity” is related to the filling of vacant positions in the Cabinet and the shake-up in other departments, while “principle” related to the inclusion of those who were voted into top positions at the ANC national conference last year.
Another SACP leader close to the engagements said there was no real explanation about why some of the ministers had to be removed from Cabinet.
“As part of principle and evaluation, there should have been an explanation about why there should be more changes.
The leader said:
Obviously, the deputy president, transport, and monitoring and evaluation ministries need to be filled. But we don’t know why other changes are taking place.
SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said the SACP had accepted the president’s explanation on the need for a minister of electricity.
Mashilo said that could add value to the ongoing interventions aimed at ending load shedding.
“We don’t have a problem with the intervention of bringing in a minister of electricity, even though there was no consultation about it. But the country is in a crisis and we will monitor what this intervention will produce,” Mashilo said.
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