Are you for real, Matamela Ramaphosa? asks our award-winning columnist after the recent cabinet recycle.
Dear Mr President His Excellency Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa. I am mad at you. Put differently, I am no longer crazy about you. I withdraw my intellectual labour from the new dawners’ faction of your party, the Thuma Mina faction, as it were. I now fancy a solo political career.
In you, Mr President, I am confronted with a huge political let-down or Russia-size political paralysis. You were supposed to be my top “political” dog. Instead, you let out the dogs that don’t bark. I can’t believe that you gleaned nothing from uBaba about how to clean out the Augean stables. Lutho. Nada.
Unlike uBaba, you effected your so-called cabinet reshuffle at 9 pm, not even at midnight. Instead of “firing” your ministers in the early hours of the morning to better uBaba’s record, all you did was recycle your cabinet before even two-year-olds went to bed. Are you for real, Mr Matamela Ramaphosa? Really, after all we have done for you: all the trees, ink and data expended supporting your professed “new dawn”, and you can’t even fire one minister. Not even if it was the ice queen uLindiwe Sisulu. At least you shifted her to be in charge of B ’n Bs.
Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start — according to pundits, a cabinet reshuffle or shuffle is when a head of government rotates or changes the composition of ministers in their cabinet. In your case, Mr President, you rotated your cabinet. In other words, you recycled your ministers because the gene pool is already contaminated. In essence, you filled vacant positions in the executive after the minister’s death in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu; the resignation of scandal-prone Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize; and Pilchards-loving Finance minister Tito Mboweni.
I wanted to say well done on collapsing the State Security Agency, but I can’t. At the helm of State Security within the Presidency is Zizi Kodwa. By his own admission before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Kodwa admitted that he is a kept man with a taste for finer things in life, as long as he is not paying.
Not all is lost. At long last, you’re beginning to understand the power of the patronage dispensary machine (former liberation movement) as a political virtue. Unlike the nonsense of “reconfiguring the cabinet”, a euphemism for reducing the number of ministers, you increased the cabinet size this time around. Well done! You also showed signs of growing a spine by making a slew of more deputy ministers. You have elevated some men and women from obscurity to high echelons of power.
These comrades now have the tools of the trade: blue lights, fancy salaries, food aides and bag carriers. Clearly, you were launching the CR22 campaign, not capacitating the state, as you claimed. Even more disappointing is that, in actual fact, all you managed to do was rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Not a single minister was fired, not even former minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
In lieu of her continued political support, she was promoted to head honcho of the National Slumbering Assembly. As speaker of the National Assembly, a post which, at least in theory, is higher in status than a cabinet job, she earns more and works less. She is also in line to be acting president if both you and your bestie DD Mabuza are incapacitated.
In an inexplicable political move, you moved God Stella (Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams) from the Ministry of Communications and Digital Technologies to Small Business Development. You should have fired her. Khumbudzo Ntshavheni (national bae) acquitted herself well as acting minister in the Presidency; one hopes that she will at long last drive the spectrum release to rebuild our economy in the communications space.
Mr President, to be fair, you made one inspiring appointment, that of the new Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, who is an insider with the necessary academic qualifications and political zeal. You put “lipstick on a pig” for the rest, and now you have entered them for the Miss Clean International competition. It’s the same old story — a pig with lipstick doesn’t win first prize for cleanliness. Till next week my man. “Send me.”
This Letter to Mahlamba Ndlopfu is written by Bhekisisa Mncube, a former senior Witness political journalist, the 2020 regional winner in the Opinion category of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award, and author of The Love Diary of a Zulu Boy, a memoir.
This opinion piece was first published in the Witness/News24.