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Ramaphosa’s reshuffle offset by land expropriation motion
March 5, 2018, 4:33 pm

The motion seeks to amend part of South Africa’s constitution, which guarantees property rights, and allow the government to take the land from the white farmers and not provide them with any financial compensation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa won reviews of his cabinet shuffle but this was soured by the new land re-appropriation motion [Image: GCIS]

In a move reminiscent of his predecessor, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a cabinet reshuffle late at night, but unlike those of Jacob Zuma, this reshuffle was in general greeted with joy, although some people thought that all the dead wood ministers from Zuma’s administration had not been removed.

The reshuffle was extensive with 22 changes and included a replacement for himself, as he appointed David Mabuza as Deputy President.

The next key appointment was that of Nhlanhla Nene as Finance Minister, whose firing in December 2015 started the African National Congress (ANC) revolt against Zuma, which ultimately resulted in his resignation on Valentine’s Day this year.

The former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was moved back to his former post as Home Affairs Minister.

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who was fired at the end of March 2017 after being hastily recalled to the post following the collapse of the rand in December 2015, was made Minister of Public Enterprises and replaces Lynne Brown, who has been accused of corruption and an accessory to state capture, especially at state-owned enterprise (SOE) electricity utility, Eskom.

The longest serving minister, Jeff Radebe, who was appointed minister by Nelson Mandela in the first post-apartheid government in May 1994, is now Minister of Energy and replaces David Mahlobo, who was seen to promote an unaffordable nuclear energy programme.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former wife of Jacob Zuma and who contested the ANC leadership with Ramaphosa in December 2017, is made Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation and replaces Jeff Radebe.

Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba replaces Bongani Bongo as Minister of State Security, while Lindiwe Sisulu takes over from Maite Nkoana-Mashabane as Minister of International Relations and Bheki Cele replaces Fikile Mbalula as Minister of Police. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is now Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform replacing Gugile Nkwinti.

Thulas Nxesi takes over from Nathi Nhleko as Minister of Public Works, while Blade Nzimande replaces Joe Maswanganyi as Minister of Transport.

Former Minister of Water and Sanitation Nomvula Mokonyane, who has been blamed for the lack of bulk water supply to Cape Town as not enough water storage dams have been built, was moved to the Ministry of Communications, while Gugile Nkwinti replaces her at the water ministry.

Toko Xasa substitutes for Thulas Nxesi at the Ministry of Sports, while Susan Shabangu and Bathabile Dlamini swap ministries. Shabangu is the Minister of Social Development, while Dlamini is the Minister for Women and Disability in the Presidency.

Dlamini was censured by the Constitutional Court for her mishandling of the Social Security Agency of South Africa that led to a crisis in the payment of grants to more than 17 million recipients and contributed to the ANC’s poor showing in the 2016 local government election.

Mosebenzi Zwane, who helped facilitate the sale of the Optimum coal mine by Glencore to the Gupta family, was replaced by Gwede Mantashe as Minister of Mineral Resources. The Optimum mine was placed in business rescue on February 20 and miners are concerned that they will not be paid their salaries.

Ramaphosa said mining should be seen as a sunrise industry rather than a sunset industry, despite the fact that net fixed investment in the mining industry has declined by 57 per cent since 2008.

“I am certain we will be able to resolve the current impasse and agree on a mining charter that both accelerates transformation and grows this vital sector of our economy,” Ramaphosa said in his State of the Nation Address.

The appointment of backbencher Des van Rooyen as Minister of Finance for four days in December 2015 created the rand collapse crisis. He was then moved to the Ministry of Cooperative Governance, and has now been replaced by Zweli Mkhize.

Minister of Science and Technology Naledi Pandor has been shifted to the Ministry of Higher Education where she will oversee the implementation of the “free tertiary education for some” programme. She replaces Hlengiwe Mkhize, while her former post is now occupied by Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

The new Minister of Human Settlements is Nomaindia Mfeketo, replacing Lindiwe Sisulu, while Ayanda Dlodlo gets the hot seat of Minister of Public Service and Administration as the government negotiates a wage deal with the civil service and takes over from Faith Muthambi.

Former Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom, who spoke out against Zuma’s mismanagement, returns to his post and displaces Thoko Xasa.

The only ministries that did not see a change of leadership was that of Agriculture, Basic Education, Defence, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Small Business Development, where Senzeni Zokwana, Angie Motshekga, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Ebrahim Patel, Edna Molewa and Lindiwe Zulu respectively, remain.

North West University Business School Professor Raymond Parsons welcomed the cabinet reshuffle.

“Although the changes to the Cabinet are inevitably the outcome of political compromise, the latest reshuffle of the Cabinet by President Cyril Ramaphosa is a potentially positive development, which must now demonstrate that it can implement the message of economic renewal,” he said.

He believes that the reshuffled Cabinet must now be dedicated to doing its best to reinforce the better economic prospects that are now emerging.

It is likely to be well-received by business and the markets, and the rand has already strengthened.

“The statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa of the future intention to streamline and reduce the size of the Cabinet in due course to cut the cost of government in South Africa is welcome,” Parsons said.

The rand has been the best performing currency in the world against the US dollar over the past few months as it strengthened by more than a quarter (27 per cent) from R14.57 per US dollar on November 13 2017 to R11.50 on February 26 2018.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party was not impressed by the reshuffle, nor was the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“We view it as a mere realignment of corrupt and state capture delinquent ministers. No one‚ with the best interests of South Africa today‚ could have Malusi Gigaba‚ Nomvula Mokonyane‚ Bathabile Dlamini as Cabinet members and ministers,” the EFF said.

“The decision to retain the bloated‚ oversized Cabinet means Ramaphosa has failed to seize this first opportunity to cut the size of Cabinet,” the DA said.

The cabinet reshuffle late on Monday was followed by a motion in Parliament on land tenure the following day.

The motion, which passed with 241 votes for to 83 against, was proposed by the EFF and supported by the ANC.

The motion seeks to amend part of South Africa’s constitution, which guarantees property rights, and allow the government to take the land from the white farmers and not provide them with any financial compensation.

“Now is the time for justice. We must ensure that we restore the dignity of our people without compensating the criminals who stole our land,” EFF leader Julius Malema said.

Ernst Roets, deputy chief executive of the civil rights group AfriForum, said the phrase “expropriation without compensation” was “semantic fraud.” What is happening is “nothing more than racist theft,” according to Roets.

Although the motion passed in the Parliament, the issue of amending the constitution will be reviewed by the Constitutional Review Committee.

As most mines were once farms, with many gold mines for instance named after the farms they occupied, investors worry that the motion could start a trend of expropriation without compensation such as took place in Zimbabwe under former President Robert Mugabe from 2000 onwards.

That was part of the reason why the rand lost value the past week and moved back above R12 per US dollar on March 2.

Helmo Preuss in Grahamstown, South Africa for The BRICS Post

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