POLITICS
23/02/2018 12:04 SAST | Updated 23/02/2018 12:04 SAST

7 People Ramaphosa Might Fire. Soon.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made a lot of promises during his Sona, and to make some of them a reality, some people in key positions will have to go.

President Cyril Ramaphosa
Deon Raath/Foto24 via Getty Images
President Cyril Ramaphosa

A close look at President Cyril Ramaphosa's promises of reform during his recent state of the nation address (Sona) indicates that Cabinet members from his predecessor's administration may end up in hot water sooner rather than later.

Ramaphosa alluded to changes that will be made in various government departments and state institutions, and when asked by media about a possibility of an imminent Cabinet reshuffle, he did not deny that one would take place.

From this, it seems quite a few ministers may be facing the axe in the short term. These are our predictions, based on what Ramaphosa said in Sona and recent events within the first week of his presidency.

1. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown

Brown oversaw, and at points denied, rampant corruption and maladministration at state-owned enterprises including Eskom, Transnet and Denel. She was responsible for some of the key figures at the parastatals' executive levels who are alleged to be involved in state capture.

Ramaphosa said SOEs cannot borrow their way out of their financial difficulties any longer.

"We will therefore undertake a process of consultation with all stakeholders to review the funding model of SOEs and other measures," he said.

"We will change the way that boards are appointed so that only people with expertise, experience and integrity serve in these vital positions. We will remove board members from any role in procurement and work with the auditor-general to strengthen external audit processes."

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Public enterprises minister Lynne Brown.

In a report by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Thursday, her office found that Brown inadvertently or deliberately made a misleading statement to the National Assembly regarding payments from Eskom to Gupta-linked company Trillian.

Mkhwebane found Brown had acted in breach of the executive ethics code and the Constitution, further recommending that Ramaphosa take "appropriate action" against the minister.

2. Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini

Dlamini was found wanting during the social-grants crisis last year. She is now in the hot seat at an inquiry investigating her role in the extension of an unlawful contract with Cash Paymaster Services.

"Social grants remain a vital lifeline for millions of our people living in poverty. We will urgently take decisive steps to comply with all directions of the Constitutional Court. I want to personally allay fears of any disruption to the efficient delivery of this critical service, and will take action to ensure no person in government is undermining implementation deadlines set by the court," Ramaphosa said.

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Social development minister Bathabile Dlamini.

3. Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane

Ramaphosa took a firm stance on public- and private-sector corruption.

"We must fight corruption, fraud and collusion in the private sector with the same purpose and intensity. We must remember that every time someone receives a bribe, there is someone who is prepared to pay it... This requires that we strengthen law-enforcement institutions and that we shield them from external interference or manipulation," he said.

Zwane has been fingered for his facilitation in the awarding of the Estina dairy farm project in Free State to the controversial Gupta family. The portfolio committee on mineral resources has resolved to institute a full-scale inquiry into allegations of state capture levelled against him.

Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Mosebenzi Zwane, South Africa's minister of mineral resources.

4. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba

Gigaba has been criticised for his close relationship to the Gupta family, and a number of his advisers have been found to be linked to the family. He also played a role in the appointment of Gupta allies such as Brian Molefe and Anoj Singh at Transnet and Eskom. Gigaba also facilitated the acquiring of South African citizenship for Gupta family members without following the legally required processes.

Ahead of his budget speech, the high court in Pretoria ruled that Gigaba lied under oath when he testified during his tenure as home affairs minister. Fin24 reported that Fireblade Aviation, which is controlled by the Oppenheimer family, filed a lawsuit against Gigaba alleging that he had reneged on a pledge to delegate officials to staff their immigration and customs facility that was to be developed at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport on land rented from arms manufacturer Denel.

Sunday Times via Getty Images
Then-Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zuma-appointed finance minister Malusi Gigaba at a pre-WEF briefing.

5. South African Revenue Services boss Tom Moyane

Sars boss Tom Moyane may also be the firing line – for allegedly using the institution to further political agendas. Moyane attempted to smother a damning report by the Financial Intelligence Centre flagging mysterious payments to his deputy, Jonas Makwakwa. Under his leadership, there was also a mass exodus of experienced, senior staff members from the institution.

"We will also take steps to stabilise and strengthen vital institutions like the South African Revenue Service... I will shortly appoint a commission of inquiry into tax administration and governance of Sars, to ensure that we restore the credibility of the service and strengthen its capacity to meet its revenue targets," Ramaphosa said.

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SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.

6. National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams

"We will urgently attend to the leadership issues at the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that this critical institution is stabilised and able to perform its mandate unhindered," Ramaphosa said.

The high court found that Abrahams' appointment was invalid and void. He has been criticised for shielding Jacob Zuma from prosecution and being slow to act on allegations surrounding the Gupta family and state capture.

Foto24 via Getty Images
NPA boss Shaun Abrahams.

7. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Last week, the high court in Pretoria dealt a fatal blow to Mkhwebane's credibility when it ruled in favour of Absa bank in the Bankorp-CIEX lifeboat debacle.

News24 reported that a full bench set aside Mkhwebane's report, published in June last year, and her finding that Absa was liable to pay R1.25-billion to the government. The court ordered her to pay some of her opponents' legal costs personally, stating that she did not conduct herself in a manner expected from a person occupying the office of the public protector.

Mkhwebane was also criticised for her investigation into the Estina dairy project in Vrede. The report did not investigate or make any findings into alleged key government conspirators Mosebenzi Zwane and Ace Magashule. It also did not make any reference to the Gupta family.

Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane listens during a briefing in Parliament in Cape Town. October 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings