Why SA needs a new cabinet

John Steenhuisen says Ramaphosa is front, lending a sense of decency to a wholly self-serving, and corrupt governing party


15 February 2022

Yesterday, I tabled a motion of no confidence in President Ramaphosa’s cabinet of ministers. Section 102 (1) of the Constitution enables this action:

If the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet excluding the President, the President must reconstitute the Cabinet.

I explained the reason for this motion in my reply yesterday, as leader of the opposition, to the President’s State of the Nation Address. Here is a summary.

In the July riots last year, 354 people lost their lives and billions of rands of property was destroyed. The independent report into the cause of these riots, produced by an expert panel lead by Professor Sandy Africa, specifically stated that:

Many reasons were proffered for this failure, but in the end the response remains that they (the police and the intelligence services) failed to do the necessary to protect life, limb and property. The reasons are set out in the body of our report. The Executive, however, carries some of the blame too and must take responsibility for its lapse of leadership.

In a functional democracy, this report would have triggered the replacement of the entire cabinet, and this should happen. Except, the alternative to President Ramaphosa, Deputy President David Mabuza, is too corrupt, ruthless, useless and self-serving to contemplate, so we have specifically not brought a motion against the president himself.

Furthermore, numerous members of his cabinet have failed spectacularly to perform their role in government or are implicated in acts of alleged corruption and maladministration. Some of these are:

Police Minister Bheki Cele, for SAPS’ failure to protect lives and property during the July 2021 riots;

Then Minister of State Security Ayanda Dlodlo, for intelligence failures before and during July 2021 riots;

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu – for multiple delivery failures and for her recent despicable attack on the constitution and the judiciary;

Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe – for ongoing load-shedding and for his commitment to coal interests;

Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille – for the Beitbridge border fence fiasco and for the fact that Parliament was burnt down on her watch;

Education Minister Angie Motshekga – for the 5.9 million school dropouts during her 13 years in office;

Minister of Small Business Development Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams – Ramaphosa clearly has no faith in her ability to cut red tape for small business, which is why he has appointed a czar in his office, to do her job in parallel – and for her flouting of lockdown regulations during her previous role as communications minister;

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, for spraying destitute people with a water canon for the “crime” of waiting in a queue to collect a SASSA grant;

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, for the collapse of our railway infrastructure on his watch, and for the drivers licence debacle;

and Trade and Industry Minister Ibrahim Patel, because he is a sworn communist who has played a leading role in growing our broad joblessness rate to 46.6%, and because he will never support Ramaphosa in implementing the reforms South Africa needs to fight poverty.

Furthermore, we believe President Ramaphosa to be a lone voice in the ANC backing real reforms that would bring down poverty and unemployment. He has admitted this much by setting up a parallel state in his own office.

President Ramaphosa lacks either the courage or the political support within his own party to replace his cabinet. The only way to achieve it, therefore, is with the support of opposition members of parliament.

With a simple majority needed to pass this motion in the House, only 50 or so ANC members of parliament need to support this motion for it to pass. If the motion is rejected, it will stand as conclusive evidence that Ramaphosa is indeed a lonely president, and nothing more than a convenient front, lending a sense of legitimacy and decency to a wholly self-serving, useless, corrupt governing party.

Warm Regards,

John Steenhuien