Who's in and Who's Out: Inside sources reveal deep divisions threatening Ramaphosa's cabinet selection


In the wake of President Cyril Ramaphosa's re-election for a second term, South Africa eagerly awaits the unveiling of his new cabinet. However, inner tensions within the nascent coalition have thrown a wrench into the gears of progress, causing delays in the highly anticipated announcement. As the country buzzes with speculation, political insiders reveal that navigating these internal conflicts has become a delicate balancing act for the president.

With his inauguration taking place today, Ramaphosa is keen on avoiding any wastage of time. Yet, he remains steadfast in his commitment to meticulously handle the complex process of selecting his new cabinet members. Vincent Magwenya, the president's spokesperson, shed light on the situation, stating, "The president is going to be consulting within the governing party and the alliance, as well as among the GNU [government of national unity] partners on the formulation of the cabinet."

While everyone involved acknowledges the urgency of the matter, the president is acutely aware of the intricate dynamics at play. Inner tensions within the coalition have become a significant hurdle, and consultations with the African National Congress (ANC)'s alliance partners have proven to be more challenging than expected. Of particular concern is the South African Communist Party (SACP)'s aversion to aligning with the Democratic Alliance (DA), a stance that further complicates the selection process.

Nevertheless, Ramaphosa is determined to accommodate the SACP within his executive, and several options are being considered. A standout candidate for inclusion is David Masondo, currently serving as the deputy finance minister. The labor federation Cosatu, another key member of the tripartite alliance, has stressed the importance of appointing ministers who will champion workers' rights and the transformation agenda. Economic cluster portfolios are also under scrutiny, with workers' interests at the forefront of discussions.

As negotiations unfold, rumors swirl regarding the ANC's willingness to share certain portfolios with the DA. While the ANC has reserved all positions in the security cluster for itself, there have been murmurs suggesting that the DA may be offered the deputy finance ministry and possibly the trade and industry portfolio. However, the DA's lukewarm response to the prospect of taking up the basic education portfolio has added another layer of complexity to the situation.

Compounding the challenges faced by Ramaphosa are the rival factions within his own party. Some members of his camp favored a coalition with the DA but opposed the notion of including them in the cabinet. Instead, they proposed a compromise wherein the ANC would control the executive, while the DA would assume key positions in parliament. This proposition aimed to preserve the distinct identities and ideologies of both parties. However, negotiations took a different turn, and personal interests in securing positions have come to the fore, reducing the available opportunities for ANC members.

The formation of a coalition government has ushered in a new era of negotiations and compromises. Helen Zille, the chairperson of the DA's federal executive, referred to certain "important sticking points" that required careful consideration during the process. Despite the challenges, the ANC and the DA signed a pact outlining the terms for forming the coalition. The document emphasizes the need for inclusivity and reflects the electoral outcomes, ensuring a balanced distribution of cabinet seats.

As the nation awaits the cabinet announcement, speculations are rife about the potential composition of Ramaphosa's executive team. The DA, holding 87 seats in the assembly, has made it clear that they expect a fair share of cabinet seats based on their proportionate representation. With negotiations ongoing, the final number of cabinet positions offered to the DA is yet to be determined.

While the clock ticks and the anticipation grows, Ramaphosa's decision-making process remains under scrutiny. The president's calculations will also depend on the inclusion of additional alliance partners. As of now, five parties have signed up, including the Inkatha Freedom Party, Patriotic Alliance, Good party led by Patricia de Lille, and the Pan Africanist Congress. The ANC continues to hold out hope for further persuasions, although Rise Mzansi's resistance to joining the coalition casts doubt on their involvement.

Amidst the complexities and competing interests, Ramaphosa treads carefully to ensure a balanced and inclusive cabinet that reflects the diverse needs of the nation. The president's commitment to experience and continuity is now juxtaposed with pressures from within his party to introduce younger ministers.

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