Ramaphosa’s cabinet: is the claim of state capture finally buried?


Analysis on Ramaphosa’s maiden cabinet announcement!

–      Is the claim of state capture finally buried, where are the Coloureds in this cabinet?

The much anticipated Ramaphosa cabinet is now done and dusted, in a few hours some new members of parliament will be sworn in as members of parliament, these include among others David Mabuza, Zweli Mkhize and Gwede Mantashe among. Despite many claims of a cabinet reshuffle, I have consistently held it could not have been a reshuffle since it was Ramaphosa’s maiden cabinet. The cabinet announced in changes and those who remained from the Zuma presidency is effectively Ramaphosa’s maiden cabinet and cannot be seen any other way.

Deputy Presidency – David Mabuza

Ramaphosa announced his deputy to be David Mabuza. On his announcement of David Mabuza, contrary to the wild claims that Ramaphosa was going to appoint a woman deputy president, it was never in Ramaphosa’s power to decide on that unilaterally. David Mabuza from the start was going to be the one making that decision. We know, it was Mabuza who in the aftermath of the conference outcome, suggested Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as the better choice for deputy President at least for the balance of the 5th administration. Back then it was speculated he did this because out of guilt for his role in compromising her undeniable chances to become the first woman president of the ANC. Some were as categorical to say he betrayed NDZ and attempted with this to present an olive branch. We also heard days before that announcement that he simply sold her out.

Ramaphosa also could not have remotely afforded to overlook the man that it is claimed made him president. Mabuza recently said Ramaphosa is safe next to him. Ramaphosa, therefore, had to return the favour. Anything else would have presented unnecessary challenges which may have spiralled into other spheres that Ramaphosa and the ANC simply cannot afford. Mabuza, therefore, is Deputy President because it could not have been anything else.

Finance Ministry – Nhlanhla Nene

Finance Minister Gigaba makes away for returning Nhlanhla Nene? This also confirms that the Ramaphosa presidency, as I have before raised before, appears concerned to bring SA back to a pre-November 2015 reality when Nene was in charge of finance. Nene is joined by newly appointed deputy Mondli Gungubele former Ekhurhuleni Mayor.  I am also on record to have said Ramaphosa by affording Gigaba to deliver the Budget Speech, was being courteous and therefore not vindictive.

The appointment of Nene, therefore, eradicates the November 2015 faux pas on the part of former president Zuma, and in a sense takes us back to that era. Gigaba leaves the finance ministry with a hotly contested subject of a 1% increase in the VAT and the confirmed budget for 2018. Nene will have to deal with this as his new-born baby and nurture it accordingly. Nene who is duly qualified to serve and has served in both deputy and full minister status before with no incident is bound to continue the trajectory of fiscal discipline in an accepted financially constrained space. Nene is therefore welcomed by many yet he is also regarded as not progressive on the demands of radical economic transformation.

Home Affairs – Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba returns to his former stomping grounds. Remember it was in this ministry where he was accused of having abetted the Guptas to attain permanent residences status as the claims go. Reappointing him therefore back here does not go down well with those who wanted to see Gigaba completely dropped since he is considered tainted with the Gupta brush. Gigaba in his fifteenth year as a cabinet minister is a seasoned minister and without doubt an asset to any cabinet. His short stint of just 11 months in the hot seat of finance minister showed his capabilities and strengths as an all-rounder. I do endorse keeping him in parliament.

Education – Naledi Pandor

Higher Education sees Hlengiwe Mkhize given the chop for a Naledi Pandor. Pandor is an old hand and seasoned minister having done great work in the science ministry. Pandor despite bandied around as the CR17 campaign running mate for Ramaphosa was never going to be deputy president of SA while Mabuza was deputy president of the ANC.

She brings vaults of experience to the higher education ministry and has the task of implementing the amended policy on tertiary education commonly understood in fees-free education with a threshold of R350000.00 per household income. Upon her shoulders is to give effect to this ANC policy as announced by former President Zuma on December 16, 2017. Pandor is a  very capable leader and will not disappoint. A measured and matured politician and member of the executive she brings her own contribution that will certainly plug some key holes.

Police Ministry – Bheki Cele

Razzmatazz Fikile Mbalula is a casualty notwithstanding all the dust he kicked up these last two weeks around the Gupta arrests, this could not save him the chop. Perhaps Ramaphosa was wise for relieving Mbalula since he is not coherent, very emotional and often erratic. His most recent claims of for example Ajay Gupta and Duduzane Zuma as suspects on the run for the Estina Farm corruption allegations were proven a complete fallacy since the Hawks who lead this process never owned this claim and rather confirmed that Ajay Gupta is an interested person in another case separate from the Estina Dairy Farm allegations when it steered clear from tagging Duduzane to any yet crime.

On another level, Mbalula’s handling of the Ngcobo Church shooting which appears to have a twist may also have been another reason for him being relieved. The Police Ministry needs someone more stable and systematic if not strategic and not Razzmatazz. Incoming Bheki Cele is no newcomer to this ministry we will remember him, it was Cele who brought back the military ranks to the police service when he accorded himself the rank of general. We must wait to see if the police will return to this militarized stance or if it will continue its service ethos. Cele also in his own right at the time of being Commissioner endeared himself to many for being a committed servant leader. He, however, is not exempted from the claims of being fired as tainted by a public protector report.

Public Enterprises – Pravin Gordhan

It was to be expected that a litany of claims against axed minister Lynne brown would not see her retained. Brown’s death knell was served when Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane as recent as a few days ago found that she violated her constitutional oath for having inadvertently lied to parliament. The Public Protector’s report for remedial action recommended that President Ramaphosa reprimand Brown within a fourteen-day period. This was a blessing for Ramaphosa because notwithstanding state capture often made a key issue these are until now mere allegations.

On the other hand, Brown makes way for returning Pravin Gordhan. Let us not forget it was Gordhan who led the battle charge against Brown’s administration of the SOE’s. Gordhan was scathing in his interrogation and we as commentators knew then already he will be taking this ministry over. Yet, there is another reason for deploying Gordhan to this ministry, Ramaphosa with this has his man in a very key ministry.

It is an undeniable fact that Gordhan is a capable minister in any department, he, therefore, brings to this ministry solid experience. There are, of course, those who will see deployment here as nothing but another means for Ramaphosa to have full control over all SOE’s and what the respective futures of these may mean. We have heard of the privatisation of Eskom, SAA etc we must now wait and see how Gordhan will wield his axe in DENEL etc. I welcome his appointment though.

Mineral Resources –  Gwede Mantashe

Mosebenzi Zwane was expected not survive, he looked more and more as the fall guy for the Free State Estina dairy saga. As a sign of cleaning up his political blood was bayed for by more than opposition parties and he became an easy shift for Ramaphosa to make while collecting good brownie points. He is replaced by Gwede Mantashe the former Secretary General and now national chairperson of the ANC who makes his debut in any cabinet and political life as a minister. Mantashe holds a master’s degree in Industrial Sociology from Wits University and he is the new man overseeing mineral resources.

The former mineworker is now at the helm of mineral resources perhaps in a sense of full circle. Mantashe’s appointment on another level as Ramaphosa’s man often understood as the Bulldog in Ramaphosa’s corner who almost assume the role that Essop Pahad fulfilled for Mbeki. This ministry, particularly for its current debate on a troublesome and unresolved mining charter, will be increasingly under the spotlight. We will have to wait and see how Mantashe handles his new job and makes his unique contribution to this ministry.

Mantashe ought to bring his own spice to this ministry, he has the benefit of knowing mining from the other side and his personal business interest in this sphere should also help. Upon his shoulders will be the responsibility to deliver us a mining charter that will engage the undeniable necessity for RET in this sector and to navigate the complexities of communities that demand and deserve much more than what they hitherto have been afforded. Let us see Mantashe in action not the comfort of Luthuli House.

International Affairs – Lindiwe Sisulu

It was widely expected that Lindiwe Sisulu would be entrusted to lead this important ministry. Maite Nkoana Mashabane a rather subdued figure, moves to rural development in replacing Gugile Nkwinti. She is now succeeded by Sisulu.  I personally endorse the appointment of Sisulu since she is a capable minister that has shown her mettle over time for the mandates exacted. She will in this new ministry bring her undeniable contribution. International Affairs is a stable ministry, yet there are challenges in regard to whether SA should rethink its diplomacy ethos either as economic centred or purely humanitarian. This debate is long-standing and while the claim is made of a hybrid, giving effect to whether SA gets value for money remains Sisulu’s responsibility to unequivocally articulate that policy direction.

Another challenge she faces is the issue of capacity, International Affairs has lost much in the arena of capacity and even seniority. Beyond finalising the ethos and direction of our SA diplomacy, she will have to develop a strategy on recapacitating the ministry.

We will also need to see how Sisulu engages the BRICS context if the latter remains the focus of the Ramaphosa administration.

Minister in Presidency – Monitoring Policy and Evaluation – Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

The post left vacant by the late Collins Ohm Chabane who tragically passed away in a car accident some few years ago is finally filled. The new minister is Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, she makes her return to the cabinet having served in all cabinets before in various key positions. She has served previously as Health Minister, Home Affairs, and International Affairs. She is now responsible for monitoring, policy, and development and brings vaults of experience to this ministry. This ministry may just have received its best candidate yet because Dlamini Zuma is known for making sterling contributions, we may, therefore, anticipate a very lively ministry that will seek to give effect to the National Development Plan goals.

While this ministry is one of those in the office the president, it affords Ramaphosa the expert knowledge and competence of one of SA’s finest to assist the vision of working towards the achievements of the NDP. It also will at another level sends a message of organisational unity for some while it may mean for others Ramaphosa exerted his control over her by bringing her into his office.  She nevertheless is no walkover and understands the ANC and government and what is expected to be done she, therefore, will jealously guard the ANC’s 54th conference adopted policies and work to ensure these are given effect across the broader spectrum of government.

Ministry of Women – Bathabile Dlamini

Bathabile Dlamini perhaps the most disliked by some is shifted from Social Development to now occupy the role of Minister of Women as located in the Presidency. What many may never want to accept is that Bathabile Dlamini could never just simply have been axed for perhaps two key reasons. She is a functional minister in the executive with a track record in social development for clean audits and delivering. She may lack presentation and communication skills but she delivered on her mandate. We often get side-tracked by the SASSA and CPS claims which have two sides to it. Of course, there will be those who will raise the red flag as to the ruling of the constitutional court against her.

Yet, Dlamini as the leader of the ANC Women’s league wields a considerable amount of power and in the light of organisational unity, whatever that may mean for whoever axing Bathabile Dlamini would not have been wise or even possible. So, she stays on though now almost contained in the presidency and perhaps monitored. It irks the daylights out of the opposition that Dlamini survived the chop and she is now an appointed cabinet minister of Ramaphosa’s maiden cabinet.

Minister of Transport – Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande the longest-serving SACP secretary-general makes his return not to High Education as we have come to know him until his sacking by former President Zuma. Nzimande is also a capable minister with a long track record and therefore is now replacing Mashangwanyi who was appointed not too long ago to this position.

Nzimande makes his comeback in what can be considered as an attempt to restore the Alliance unity. Unfortunately, often in a narrow sense cabinet position are regarded as a major sign of unity for the Alliance. How real the latter may be is open for all to interpret. Nzimande returns and has his blue lights back. We wish him well in his new position. Unlike Hanekom or Nene, we cannot say Nzimande is restored to his former position, some consider his appointment as communicating a dubious message, that even Ramaphosa didn’t trust him in Higher Education.

Minister of Energy – Jeff Radebe

Jeff Radebe replaces David Mahlobo as energy minister. Radebe is arguably the longest-serving minister in the cabinet, a die-hard. He has served from Mandela and is now serving Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa deploys his brother-in-law in a sense of keeping it in the family to this much-conflicted ministry for all the speculations and claims levelled of deals with Russia. We know that energy is the interest of many. Back in the day, Jay Naidoo was at pains to have Zuma meet Arivia the French Company, we not sure if Jay Naidoo had interest in Arivia getting the nod.

Radebe is now in charge and we must see how he will handle this portfolio. I personally do not expect any fresh fireworks in this ministry because we already know that there is no budget, yet Ramaphosa and Gigaba did not in any of their respective SONA 2018 or Budget 2018 speeches outrightly reject nuclear energy. We must wait to see what line will be adopted. What is clear is that this ministry will be watched over the next couple of years with keen interest. On the other hand, some critiques of Ramaphosa will conclude this will is another ministry that will work for a certain group as reserved for a benefit.

Minister of Local Cooperative Governance – Dr. Zweli Mkhize

Des Van Rooyen one of those identified as tainted with State capture – Gupta connection claims are given the chop for incoming Dr. Zweli Mkhize. Mkhize is the former Treasurer General and before that Premier of Kwa Zulu Natal. Mkhize replaces Van Rooyen in what can be called an easy replacement for Ramaphosa.

Mkhize despite nowhere found guilty was also recently implicated by the former PRASA CEO Lucky Montana who shared scathing testimony in parliament’s SOE’ inquiry in verbatim in a claim of the other side of state capture led by Mkhize and others. These are allegations nevertheless and will in all probability with Mkhize’s new portfolio find either traction as weaponry in the arsenal of the opposition. This along with the recent clarification provided by Gayton McKenzie on who the person in Zuma’s Top Six was that encouraged Zuma to eat poisoned laced food, will become a tool against Mkhize from within too. With an opposition in search for its next targets, we can accept Mkhize to be made an easy target. Mkhize equally brings his set of honed skills to the fray and clearly will in his new executive position be useful in his new mandate. I do believe he has a role to play and can make a contribution.

Minister of Communications Nomvula Mokonyane

The Communications Ministry formerly under Ayanda Dlodlo and later under Mamoloko Kubyai, the Katter now moved to the science ministry, has a new minister none other than ‘Mama Action’ Nomvula Mokonyane. Mokonyane formerly held the role of Minister of Water and Sanitation.  Despite the claims of the opposition who really are obsessed to see everyone fired, there was never any grounds to have her removed in any justifiable sense.

I have throughout maintained Ramaphosa would be unwise to give Mokonyane the chop, she since the days of leading as Gauteng Premier distinguished herself as one who is functional, effective, very knowledgeable and an informed leader.  Mokonyane can adapt easily and she knows how to work in a hostile environment. Mokonyane has not earned the name of ‘Mama Action’ for nothing. She is a hard worker and an asset to any administration.

Her move to communications can therefore also be regarded as a promotion since the role of SABC and the appreciation of press freedom in our evolving context will increasingly find better meaning. I welcome her appointment and consider Ramaphosa as having chosen wisely to keep her.

Mokonyane is also a senior member of the women’s league that has earned her right to be respected and having come through the ranks. Not one to be in a position and not make a contribution, she will rise to the occasion and be a factor in this cabinet. I endorse her as a cabinet minister and think she will do well in communications.

Responses from  opposition to the new cabinet

Naturally, the opposition parties are expressing their displeasure with the new Cabinet announcement. Notwithstanding their collective unhappiness, they will not be rationalised in the mind of a Bantu Holomisa who shared his dismay and equally attempted to exonerate Ramaphosa from the final choices.

COPE’s Pakes Dikgetsi believes Ramaphosa is constrained in his choices. I simply cannot believe this since it appears to be a false attempt to exempt Ramaphosa from the responsibility of electing his maiden cabinet. To both Holomisa and Dikgetsi we must say please do not engage in this false attempt to exempt Ramaphosa from his choices, the chosen cabinet is Ramaphosa’s cabinet and its successes and failures are equally his.

In a sense state capture is now buried with this Ramaphosa Cabinet, we heard that some members of the ANC tagged with it will face an internal Integrity Commission. As the days roll on, we will hear less and less about the subject of capture since it was always about the removal of Lynne Brown, Des Van Rooyen, Mosebenzi Zwane, Ben Martins and Bongani Bongo and the redeploying of Gigaba. Since all this I done, what else is needed to claim state capture as is claimed was not dealt with?

The Ramaphosa maiden cabinet with its ministers and deputy ministers must now receive the same support many have pledged to him as the new leader.

My critique of Ramaphosa’s Cabinet

  • Ramaphosa’s cabinet, if I may critique appears male entrusted to lead key and very significant ministries. With Ramaphosa and Mabuza as the male team in president pair, key ministries have been reserved for the male gender and it underscores the excess of testosterone overflow. Did he with is choice try to contain the woman in the presidency?


  • Ramaphosa seems to have attempted to play it safe with this cabinet and found comfort in old hands.


  • Unfortunately, his cabinet has no place for any Coloured full minister. Some will refer to Llewellyn Landers who is a deputy minister, yet even that is not sufficient to endear Ramaphosa to this group. With the Mandela rhetoric of ‘rainbowism’ (which I never trusted from its inception as coined by the retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu) advanced in claims of Ramaphosa he appears to have quickly abandoned that and he will have a difficult time defending his decision to have a cabinet devoid of Coloured ministers. This when there are plenty whites and a significant number of Indians.


  • On another level what is Ramaphosa’s justification to have the percentage of whites and Indians as juxtaposed to an absence of Coloureds in his cabinet in representation both in ministers and deputies, when we know whites, Coloureds and Indians do not vote for the ANC? This is particularly a challenge since we see it often in provincial cabinets too.


  • His offloading of some and holding others equally accused like a Gigaba leaves his claim of totally cleaning up not without challenge. If he released Lynne Brown based on what the Public Protector found, why did he hold onto Gigaba when a court pronounced that he deliberately deceived the court.


  • Is it true that he placed his trusted lieutenants in the most important jobs that have to do with the economy, will these be able to unlock and implement radical economic transformation or merely focus on keeping the status quo with a veneer of fiscal discipline that becomes the new but old focus and excuse for broadening the economy that the poor can share in it?


The announcement of the Cabinet plausibly brings to an end a month of drama in which the ANC threatened to recall its sitting SA president who subsequently resigned, the inauguration of a new president Ramaphosa who delivered SONA2018, the delivery of Budget Speech 2018 by Malusi Gigaba and now the Ramaphosa maiden cabinet.   This cabinet is Ramaphosa’s cabinet each member of the executive is his choice if others were his choices can we now afford the Ramaphosa Executive to function so we can assess them in functionality.

The Ramaphosa maiden cabinet with its ministers and deputy ministers must now receive the same support many have pledged to him as the new leader.

Clyde Ramalaine
Political Commentator and Writer
Chairperson of TMoSA Foundation – The Thinking Masses of SA
PICTURE: Supplied