Don’t pick on cabinet members: Ramaphosa

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba will present "a good budget" on Wednesday, 21 February, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Cyril Ramaphosa, the new President, says he has noted that there have been a number of calls on him to quickly reconstitute his national executive. Indicating that he could not go along with personal attacks on the integrity of existing cabinet ministers, he said that all good things would come to those who wait for a carefully deliberative process 

“I have noticed several comments about a number of members of the executive. Whatever the views … (MPs) might have… this does not justify the type of character assassination and insults that have been hurled against members of the executive,” said Ramaphosa, who was replying to the vote on his budget speech.

A number of his ministers – all inherited from President Jacob Zuma’s era – were mentioned by opposition leaders, including Mmusi Maimane of being unsuited to high office. They included the ministers of social development, the minister of mineral resources and the minister of public enterprises.

On the matter of the cabinet composition, Ramaphosa said: “An announcement will be made by the president at the appropriate time… don’t go ahead of yourselves”. This matter would be addressed: “I can assure you… it will be addressed without any noisy interventions.” As he was saying this, there was much noise from the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters’ benches.

It was an indication that the new cabinet was not likely to be appointed soon – certainly not before tomorrow, Wednesday’s, national Budget by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. During this part of President Ramaphosa’s speech, Gigaba nodded and smiled.

The President said that corruption would be tackled and several promises had been made in this regard. He said lifestyle audits would be carried out first among members of the executive – ministers and deputy ministers.”This will be done starting with the executive of the country.”

Noting that the national police commission had taken the first lifestyle audit programme in government, he said: “I am heartened to hear that the commissioner of police, that the higher echelon of the police, will also go through a lifestyle audit.”

“We are determined to tackle corruption and other economic crimes … also in the private sector,” he said, noting that corruption did not have a monopoly in the public sector only. SARS, the national intelligence agencies and other economic agencies would ensure that tax wrongs would be investigated.

Ramaphosa said all groupings including opposition parties, would be involved in the restructuring discussions about national departments. He noted opposition concerns about the size of government and the growth in the number of departments.

Asked by eNCA about the Budget after delivering his speech, Ramaphosa said that Gigaba would present “a good budget”. This confirmed that Gigaba would definitely be delivering the budget. It is not clear, however, if he will keep his job after the budget.

Ramaphosa said during a walkabout in Khayelitsha and Athlone on Tuesday that it gave him time “to reflect” on such things as the composition of the cabinet. It now looks likely that Ramaphosa would not be announcing his new cabinet imminently.


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