M&G 20 February 2018
President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on opposition party members of Parliament to be patient regarding calls for a Cabinet reshuffle, and stressed that reducing the size of government departments will only happen after extensive consultation.
Ramaphosa replied to the State of the Nation Address (Sona) debates in the national assembly on Tuesday afternoon, and directly responded to calls for a number of ministers to be axed.
“They are not going to happen yesterday, these changes need to be given proper consideration,” Ramaphosa said in response to calls for change in the cabinet.
“In the matter of composition of the cabinet, an announcement will be made by the president at an appropriate time. Don’t go ahead of yourselves. I can assure you when it is addressed, it will be addressed very carefully without any noisy interventions,” the president said.
During the Sona debate, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) called on Ramaphosa to fire a number of ministers. These include finance minister Malusi Gigaba, mineral resources minister Mosebenzi Zwane and Social Development minister Bathabile Dlamini, among others.
But Ramaphosa chose to defend the ministers from what he called “character assassination” by the opposition MPs during their debate of the Sona.
“I’ve noted several comments made about a number of members of the executives. This does not justify in any way whatsoever the type of character assassination and insults,” Ramaphosa said.
He said that restructuring departments to reduce the size of government would require extensive consultation.
“These changes will only happen when we’ve gone through the review process and gathered evidence. Changes of this nature will happen when we have thoroughly consulted. It will involve broad consultation so that the view of a broad range of stakeholders are considered.”
The president also hit back at his critics, who lambasted his decision to call three more summits and two commissions to decide how to proceed on jobs, investment and social security.
Ramaphosa said the summits were meant to ensure that no decisions are taken about South Africans without them being consulted.
But the biggest surprise was Ramaphosa’s commitment to subject members of his executive to lifestyle audits.
“If there ever has been anything that many South Africans would like to have line of sight of, is the lifestyle audit of their public representatives. That is something that I believe we have to do,” he said.
“This will be done starting with the executive of the country. I am heartened to have heard that the commissioner of police has also said that the high echelons of the police will also go through lifestyle audits,” Ramaphosa added.
Speaking to journalists after Ramaphosa’s reply, Zwane also welcomed the lifestyle audits.
“Most of the time we are being judged by perception. If the president brings facts on the table, it helps everybody, that we must not live under clouds falsely. People must know what they want to know. We must be transparent,” Zwane said.