Amid growing pressure on President Cyril Ramaphosa to reshuffle his cabinet, a renowned political and policy analyst, Theo Venter, predicts that agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza will survive the executive shake-up.
Food For Mzansi has learnt that Ramaphosa will, most likely, announce his new cabinet in the next few days with insiders claiming that the president might surprise the nation with many new contenders.
Speaking during his recent visit to Covid-19 vaccination sites in Thembisa and Midrand in Gauteng, Ramaphosa confirmed the looming “cabinet reconfiguration.” While he did not divulge any details, it seems that, especially, the ministers in the security cluster might be axed following recent anarchy in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Venter, however, predicts that Didiza position is safe. He tells Food For Mzansi, “[In the agriculture portfolio] things are fairly stable. Didiza is a doing a good job. It is a very difficult portfolio, especially with the issues of land reform and agricultural development.”
Didiza first served in the agriculture portfolio during the late President Nelson Mandela’s tenure before being called back by Ramaphosa to serve in the sixth administration. Venter describes her as “one of the loyal ones” who won’t easily be moved to another portfolio.
According to Venter there are two possible reasons why Ramaphosa is considering a new cabinet. This is to replace the late Jackson Mthembu who was the minister in the presidency as well as the outcry after health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was implicated in a corruption scandal.
“One must also remember that part of Ramaphosa’s plan has been to make cabinet smaller. [Currently,] we have 28 cabinet ministers. With the deputy ministers, we have a cabinet of close to 70 people, which is way too large. This is also very expensive,” Venter notes.
Ramaphosa has, on numerous occasions, been quite vocal about trimming down cabinet. He might even decide to consolidate certain departments, says Venter. Some reports claim that the president might also do away with deputy ministers who have no Constitutional role.
‘Appoint committed people’
Meanwhile, Agri SA executive director Christo van der Rheede urges Ramaphosa to appoint committed ministers which can be held accountable. The says the president should ensure that they deliver on their respective mandates.
Van der Rheede agrees that, historically, little-to-no accountability within government departments have failed agricultural development in South Africa. “Look at the Agri Parks, the many government farms lying fallow, municipalities not delivering services to rural areas, [and] the rise in criminality and unemployment,” he explains.
Venter predicts that Ramaphosa will announce his new cabinet before his appearance before the Zondo Commission on 11 and 12 August.
“I am not sure whether he is going to do it, but I can see a change in cabinet – not necessarily a reshuffle – taking place close to the president’s appearance before [acting chief justice Raymond] Zondo. This will indicate that the president is, in fact, taking what he will be saying to the judge very seriously.”