Jacob Zuma Appoints a Selection of Old and New Cabinet Ministers


Jacob Zuma has appointed both new and old cabinet ministers to his administration. The restructuring and re-appointments of some of the faithful former ministers who served under Zuma during his first term as president of South Africa came as no surprise, but new members have also been appointed into some of the top positions.

A surprise move was the demotion of former Minister of Finance, Mr. Gordhan Pravin. Pravin has been moved to the Cooperative Governance Department, which has experienced difficulties in the past.Mr.  Nhlanhla Nene has been appointed as the minister of finance. Nene served as deputy minister under the Pravin management and will now lead the finances and economy of the country on behalf of Zuma, who stated during a speech that the appointment of Nene means that he is the first black minister of finance to serve in South Africa in more than 100 years.

Key changes within the security cluster have been made, including the demotion of the police minister, Mr. Nathi Mthethwa, who is being transferred to the Department of Arts and Culture. The controversial transfer of Siyabonga Cwele from the security cluster to the Telecommunications and Postal Services Department was an expected move.  Jeff Radebe was also moved from the security cluster into the position of the minister of the presidency, previously occupied by Trevor Manual.

The security cluster of ministers was once criticized due to their conduct during the Nkandla scandal that implicated Zuma in the abuse of public funds. The only minister who was not removed from the security portfolio was Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Tina Joemat Petersson was found guilty of misconduct – unprofessional and unethical conduct – by the Public Protector for her part in awarding a R800 million tender to the Sekunjalo consortium during her time as minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishers. Peterson has been promoted to the head of the Energy Portfolio, and this change has raised interest.

Former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who bowed out of the political arena recently, has been replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa, who was appointed as Zuma’s deputy. This move was expected as Ramaphosa is also the deputy president of the ruling African National Congress Party (ANC).

Zuma also appointed several of the ANC partners into the ministry and former National Union of Mineworkers head Senzeni Zokwana was appointed as minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The position of deputy minister in the presidency was given to the Young Communist League’s National Secretary Buti Manamela. Staying in the same position is former unionist Ebrahim Patel, who will continue as Minister of Economic Development. Blade Nzimande was appointed as minister of Higher Education and Thulas Nxesi as minister of Public Works.

Zuma said the ANC has entered the second phase of their transition into a national democratic society, and his new cabinet has been tasked to improve and speed up the implementation of the ANC progressive policies and programs. His team will work on a five-year strategic structure of the government. This framework is the development of the ANC manifesto and the national development plan. Zuma said the plan would be a comprehensive form of socio-economic transformation.

The new cabinet ministers represent a selection of old and new with a few being demoted, and not reappointed, resulting in Zuma surprising his critics once again. The newly appointed ministers serving under the Zuma administration will continue for the next five years, unless Zuma decides on a cabinet reshuffle. During the first five years of the previous Zuma rule, there were four cabinet reshuffles.

By Laura Oneale