BLSA on Ramaphosa’s New Bloated Cabinet

At the same time we are concerned at the addition of two new ministries within the Presidency, the new Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, and the new Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ms Maropene Ramokgopa, given that the cabinet is already bloated.

President Cyril Ramaphosa did, however, announce measures to rationalise government departments, entities and programmes which would result in fewer ministries in the configuration of government “going into the next administration”.

The President is bestowing wide powers on the Electricity Minister and in terms of section 97 of the Constitution will transfer “certain powers and functions” from other entities to enable the minister to execute his mandate which is primarily to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding. To effectively oversee the electricity crisis response, Minister Ramokgopa will have political responsibility, authority and control over all critical aspects of the Energy Action Plan. He will be expected “to facilitate the coordination of the numerous departments and entities involved in the crisis response, work with the Eskom leadership to turn around the performance of existing power stations and accelerate the procurement of new generation capacity”.

With resolving the electricity crisis so critical to our economic prospects, BLSA hopes government will be united in implementing the Energy Action Plan but is concerned this attempt to endow the new electricity minister with overall responsibility may lead to turf wars which many not be beneficial to smooth progress.

As with electricity, another of SA’s network industries that is in urgent need of excellent leadership is transport, and Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga steps up from being deputy minister of Transport since 2021. Prior to that she was Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration so she has much experience and we hope she is able to accelerate the urgently needed reforms, including of Transnet, to enable an efficiently functioning transport and logistics sector.

The logistics crisis our country faces is critical with ports, road and rail logistics infrastructure in a poor state and badly managed. We have lost our competitive advantage in these areas to other countries in Africa. The new minister will need to be alive to the rapidly worsening financial and operational crises at Transnet and work with the Department of Public Enterprises to accelerate structures that are already being formed.

In other areas, President Ramaphosa named the following new cabinet ministers:

  • Minister in the Presidency: Ms Khumbudzo Ntshavheni
  • Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
  • Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies: Mr Mondli Gungubele
  • Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs: Ms Thembi Nkadimeng
  • Minister of Public Service and Administration: Ms Noxolo Kiviet
  • Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure: Mr Sihle Zikalala
  • Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture: Mr Zizi Kodwa
  • Minister of Tourism: Ms Patricia de Lille

While there are quite a few new ministers in that list, some have been transferred from previous ministries. BLSA is concerned that some underperforming ministries are unchanged. This new team, however, has an important role to play in addressing the many ills that are plaguing South Africa and we demand high standards from them.

BLSA, in conjunction with BUSA, has drawn up a list of characteristics we believe all cabinet ministers should have:

  • They need to be intellectually inquisitive and able to seek out global best practice and expertise and synthesise this with local conditions. They must be able to listen and assess complex, often competing, claims with an open mind in the best interests of all South Africans. They must be willing to change their views in the face of evidence;
  • Top-performing ministers must have a focus on policy but also on ensuring delivery. This includes the whole ecosystem of reporting entities, policy making functions, regulators and others. Consultation and decision-making processes need to be followed properly but swiftly and must not detract from decisive and urgent implementation. Ministers also need to work with parliament to accelerate key pieces of legislation, many of which are about to arrive in the National Assembly;
  • Ministers must be mindful of the need for careful and credible stakeholder communications – this does not mean going through the motions or referring every issue into NEDLAC, but that the timelines to implementation for the solutions to many of our crises require a credible, energetic sense of communication and stakeholder management. Given the slow pace of implementation of reforms historically, many investors simply don’t believe our plans. To shift this view, they will need to see consistent on time delivery of these milestones. This communication should be two-way, so that we can support ministers with rapid feedback from business and others to support change; and
  • Ministers must also recognise the imperative of government working in a real partnership with business to get things done. They must be willing to use all available resources, including those outside government, both domestically and internationally.

Author: BLSA

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