Following the 8 May election victory of the African National Congress party (ANC), President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a new gender-balanced cabinet, with half of the members, women. This is the first time in the history that South Africa has a gender-balanced cabinet.
In another surprise move, the President appointed a woman from the opposition party for a ministerial post.
Patricia de Lille, the opposition politician, former Cape Town Mayor has been appointed the minister of infrastructure development. Ms de Lille formed the opposition Good party after the power struggle within her former opposition Democratic Alliance party forced her to resign her membership.
The historic appointments have not only surprised many South Africans and the International community alike, but the bold step taken by the President has also left many to believe that President Ramaphosa wants to start his tenure on a strong footing as well as show everyone that he is in for serious business.
In another interesting move, President Ramaphosa trimmed the number of ministers in his cabinet from 36 to 28. Some analysts see his decision as an austerity measure aimed at not only cutting costs. It equally sends a strong signal that his government wants to save and fight corruption, some experts believe.
But not everyone agrees with the above analysis. Opposition parties accuse the President of political abracadabra; while the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party labels the move “the first sign of absolute dishonesty.” They argue that while President Ramaphosa may have reduced the ministers from 36 to 28, he equally increased the number of deputy ministers, a move the opposition argues, does not make much economic sense.
Yet other critics are worried that President Ramaphosa retained his controversial Deputy President David Mabuza, a close friend of former President Jacob Zuma. Mr Mabuza is embroiled in corruption allegations, including alleged political killings and illegal tenders.
During his sworn in ceremony on Saturday as South Africa’s president, Mr Ramaphosa pledged to eradicate corruption and create jobs and social infrastructures. The President must now prove to both South Africans and the rest of the world that he really means business and can honour his promises. Definitely, creating a gender-balanced cabinet, may, in fact, not be enough to convince the world he can deliver.