President Cyril Ramaphosa has made good on his commitment to finding jobs for former ministers who did not make it back to the cabinet.
Ramaphosa is eyeing former home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele for the post of SA’s ambassador to China. Cwele will be replacing Dolana Msimang, who is at the end of his tour of duty. Cwele resigned from parliament in June when he was not included in the executive. He had served in the legislature since 1999.
He was first appointed to cabinet in 2008 as minister of intelligence, then served as minister of telecommunication and postal services, before becoming home affairs minister.
Contacted for comment, Cwele said he did not know anything about the deployment as ambassador to China.
“I don’t know anything about it,” he said.
But two sources with knowledge of Ramaphosa’s intention said Cwele’s name was forwarded to the department of international relations and co-operation as Pretoria’s man in Beijing.
SA enjoys a good relationship with China and Ramaphosa’s plan to send a political heavyweight as ambassador.
TimesSELECT also understands that Ramaphosa intends to appoint former human settlements minister Nomaindia Mfeketo as SA’s ambassador to the US. She will replace Mninwa Mahlangu, a former chairperson of the national council of provinces.
Ramaphosa appointed as a minister of human settlements when he became president in 2018 but she did not return to cabinet after the 2019 general elections. She, too, resigned from parliament in June.
Insiders said Mfeketo’s experience as deputy minister of international relations and cooperation since 2014 made her an ideal candidate for the job.
Ramaphosa’s decision to reward these two former ministers with diplomatic postings comes after the Sunday Times reported he was in the process of hiring former ministers Jeff Radebe and Derek Hanekom as special envoys.
If appointed, the pair will serve for four years in their respective posts.
The appointment of ambassadors is the prerogative of the president as per the constitution; however, the ANC often nominates candidates.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, could not be reached for comment.