'Nothing except party politics prevents Ramaphosa from reshuffling his cabinet'
The size of cabinet is not the problem per se, but rather how it works, according to Powell
Nevertheless, the country does not need so many portfolios
The President is not bound much by law when choosing his Cabinet – only by party politics
Calls for a cabinet reshuffle are intensifying, following the failure of security cluster ministers to prevent the unrest, and looting that devastated parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
It was, according to Open Secrets, a “fundamental failure among all the country’s intelligence services” that were “not monitoring the chatter by supporters of Jacob Zuma, his family, and other criminal elites around them.”
South Africa has more ministers than most countries in the world; is this an opportunity to downsize?
Refilwe Moloto interviewed Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law at the University of Cape Town to discuss the idea (scroll up to listen).
I feel dispirited by the general inertia in South Africa’s government… We don’t hear from the people at the top… that is as much a problem as how many of them [ministers] we’ve got…Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law - University of Cape Town
These guys are drawing high salaries for evidently not doing very much… It’s a form of rent-seeking to get into the President’s favour… That’s why we distrust big cabinets. But whether they’re accountable or not, I suggest, is about how they work.Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law - University of Cape Town
I don’t think so many portfolios are necessary… Legally, there’s no restriction on Cyril Ramaphosa when he appoints a cabinet, other than that no more than two cabinet members may not be Parliamentarians…Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law - University of Cape Town
There is no labour security for ministers… In theory, he really can move with cabinet… He doesn’t have a strong grip on his party. To stay President, he needs to be elected as President by the ANC first…Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law - University of Cape Town
The ANC’s political fortunes do not move enough when it does a bad job. Because of that… it only matters what the ANC thinks about the President. The ANC is not worried enough about what normal people really think…Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law - University of Cape Town
We could have a ministry for apple-gathering if he wanted… He can carve up the entire country… There’s nothing in the Constitution that forces him to have a particular number… or to keep them in a job… What’s providing that pressure is not the Constitutional system, it’s party politics.Cathy Powell, Associate Professor in Public Law - University of Cape Town