On 31 March 2017, President Jacob Zuma exercised his constitutional rights as the head of the executive branch by appointing, reshuffling and dismissing ministers from their ministerial duties.

According to section 91(2) the South African constitution:

“The President appoints the Deputy President and Ministers, assigns their powers and functions, and may dismiss them” [1]

City Press’ Rapule Tabane reports that the president of the state and ruling party did not consult the African National Congress’s top six (National Executive Committee, NEC) to consolidate the reshuffle and appointments of ministers in key portfolio’s such as the finance portfolio.[2]

The president’s actions resulted in two crucial events that question the solidarity of the ruling party as ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa showered the president with criticisms[3] and later the degrading of the country’s economy to #JunkStatus by two out of the big three credit rating agencies namely; Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Moody’s and Fitch Group. Junk status means that the current state of the economy is an investment risk, further the downgrade will possibly translate to an increase in the state’s debt-servicing costs seen at the R144-billion in the 2016/17 fiscal year.[4]

The grounds on which the president made his decision to reshuffle his cabinet is that he felt that there were weak areas that needed reinforcing and he wants to leave a legacy of young leadership. The most controversial of the shuffle was the removal of finance minister Pravin Gordhon, removed on the basis that his relationship with the presidents had hit a road bump and there was a negative atmosphere and working relationship amongst them.

Apart from a negative working relationship between President Jacob Zuma and Pravin Gordhon, the president has been quite adamant about implementing radical economic transformation and addressing the questions of the land since the state of the nation address on the 9th of February 2017. The president is confident that Malusi Gigaba, the new minister of finance is fit for the task. When the president speaks about ‘radical economic transformation he addresses 3 key components of radical economic transformation, namely; white monopoly capital, which is the primary cause of black poverty which strengthens and legitimizes the notion of a black bourgeoisie.

1. White Monopoly Capital:

Inequality! Unfair distribution of the state’s wealth and resources is skewed, greatly benefiting the minority white community.

The average white household earns fivefold in comparison to the average black household.

“Only 10% of the top one hundred companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) are owned by black South Africans…”

The representation of whites at top level management level is estimated at 72% whilst black representation is 10%

2. Black Poverty:

Black South Africans are not free until economic liberation is achieved. This plays part of the societal discourse of radical socio-economic transformation, consisting of the restructuring of systems, institutions and patterns of management, ownership and control of the economy in favour of the previously disadvantaged.

3. Prosperity for the Black Bourgeoisie:

Government will utilise to the maximum‚ the strategic levers that are available to the state. This includes legislation‚ regulations‚ licensing‚ budget and procurement as well as broad-based black economic empowerment charters to influence the behaviour of the private sector and drive transformation.

Mining has always been the backbone of our economy and an important foreign exchange earner. The mining charter is currently being reviewed. It is aimed at helping the country to deracialise the ownership of the mining industry (Jeff Rudin, 2017. Mail & Guardian).[5]

The reshuffle is as follows:

Fired Ministers

  • Tina Joemat-Pettersson, former Minister of Energy
  • Dipuo Peters, former Minister of Transport
  • Pravin Gordhan, former Minister of Finance
  • Derek Hanekom, former Minister of Tourism
  • Ngoako Ramatlhodi, former Minister of Public Service and Administration

Reshuffled Ministers

  • Malusi Gigaba, former Minister of Home Affairs
  • Nathi Nhleko, former Minister of Police
  • Thulas Nxesi, former Minister of Public Works
  • Fikile Mbalula, former Minister of Sports and Recreation
  • Faith Muthambi, former Minister of Communication


  • Minister of Energy, Ms Mmamoloko “Nkhensani” Kubayi, replacing Tina Joemat-Pettersson
  • Minister of Transport, Mr Joe Maswanganyi, replacing Dipuo Peters
  • Minister of Finance, Mr Malusi Gigaba, replacing Pravin Gordhan
  • Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mbalula, replacing Nathi Nhleko
  • Minister of Public Works, Mr Nathi Nhleko, replacing Thulas Nxesi
  • Minister of Sports and Recreation, Mr Thembelani “Thulas” Nxesi, replacing Fikile Mbalula
  • Minister of Tourism, Ms Tokozile Xasa, replacing Derek Hanekom
  • Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ms Faith Muthambi, replacing Ngoako Ramatlhodi
  • Minister of Home Affairs, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, replacing Malusi Gigaba
  • Minister of Communications, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, replacing Faith Muthambi

Deputy Ministers

  • Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ms Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba
  • Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr Sifiso Buthelezi
  • Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Ben Martins
  • Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Ms Maggie Sotyu
  • Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Gratitude Magwanishe
  • Deputy Minister of Communications, Ms Thandi Mahambehlala
  • Deputy Minister of Tourism, Ms Elizabeth Thabethe
  • Deputy Minister of Police, Mr Bongani Mkongi
  • Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Ms Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams
  • Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Ms Nomathemba November.[6]

End Notes

[1] Government documents. The Constitution of South Africa, accessed 4 May 2017 http://www.gov.za/documents/constitution-republic-south-africa-1996-chapter-5-president-and-national-executive#92.%20Accountability%20and%20responsibilities%20

[2] Rapule Tabane. News24, accessed 4 May 2017 http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/why-zuma-reshuffled-his-cabinet-20170402-2

[3] Ibid.

[4] Magda Wierzycka. ENCA, accessed 4 May 2017  http://www.enca.com/money/what-junk-status-means-for-south-africans

[5] Jeff Rudin. Mail & Guardian. Zuma’s Plan for Radical Economic Transformation is BEE on Steriods. Accessed 4 May 2017 https://mg.co.za/article/2017-04-25-zumas-plan-for-radical-economic-transformation-is-just-bee-on-steriods

[6] Ismail Akwei, Africa News:Zuma’s Cabinet Reshuffle – Who’s In and Who’s Out. Accessed 4 May 2017 http://www.africanews.com/2017/03/31/zuma-cabinet-reshuffle-who-s-in-and-who-s-out//

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