ANC and DA yet to talk about sharing cabinet posts: Ramaphosa to appoint 5 or more ministers from DA


In the wake of South Africa's historic Government of National Unity (GNU), discussions surrounding the composition of the cabinet have yet to commence, according to leaders from the African National Congress (ANC) and the Democratic Alliance (DA). As President Cyril Ramaphosa prepares for his inauguration tomorrow, the appointment of new ministers becomes imperative to ensure a functional government.

While the tradition has been to announce the cabinet soon after the president's inauguration, there is no constitutional obligation to adhere to a specific timeframe for the unveiling of the national executive. Shedding light on the situation, an aide to President Ramaphosa told Business Day, a sister publication of Sowetan, "The government of national unity in 1994 took months to put together. We came off the [election] campaign and delivered this government in two weeks. We are only starting to talk on Tuesday."

Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya acknowledged the possibility of a longer consultation period this time around, stating, "Ideally, you would want the cabinet to be announced as soon as possible after the inauguration. But this time, consultations may take longer. But the idea is still to try to do it as soon as possible. Cabinet has got to be appointed in terms of the priorities of the seventh administration."

With the DA, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and other parties having supported Ramaphosa's nomination and election in parliament, expectations arise that they will be rewarded with cabinet appointments. Speculation within the DA even suggests that Ramaphosa may allocate no fewer than five senior cabinet posts to the party.

However, Ramaphosa faces the challenge of satisfying various constituencies within the ANC while ensuring the appointment of a national executive capable of driving his reform agenda aggressively. Failure to assemble a capable cabinet could further exacerbate the ANC's electoral decline.

Concerns have also been raised by analysts and opposition parties regarding the potential expansion of the cabinet under the new ANC/DA+ coalition. Such an expansion could undermine public trust in the forthcoming administration. ActionSA, for instance, criticizes any increase in the number of cabinet ministers, highlighting the pre-election promises made by coalition partners to reduce the cabinet's size.

Athol Trollip, the caucus leader of the DA, condemned the idea of enlarging an already bloated cabinet, asserting that it would contradict Ramaphosa's commitment to streamlining ministries. He also noted the DA's previous pledge to cut down a cabinet that was once deemed wasteful and driven by patronage. Currently, the serving ministers and deputy ministers cost taxpayers over R146 million per year in salaries alone.

Lawson Naidoo from the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution emphasized the importance of an efficient and effective cabinet that can deliver a cohesive and comprehensive policy program. He advocated for a smaller, leaner cabinet, warning against allowing party considerations to overshadow the composition and functionality of the cabinet, as this has led to policy incoherence and inconsistency in the past.

Meanwhile, political newcomer MK has announced that its 58 Members of Parliament, who initially boycotted the first sitting of the National Assembly, will now participate as part of the official opposition. MK leader Jacob Zuma confirmed the party's intention to engage in the legislative arm of the state alongside the progressive caucus, which includes the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Al Jama-ah, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, United African Transformation, and the United Democratic Movement (UDM). Together, these parties hold a combined 100 seats out of 400 in the National Assembly.

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