For first time in history, South Africa Cabinet is 50pc women


South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO | FILE |
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa. PHOTO | FILE |

Half of the new South Africa Cabinet members are women, making it one of three African countries alongside Rwanda and Ethiopia, to achieve gender parity among ministers, according to U.N. Women.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday trimmed the Cabinet from 36 ministers to 28.

All South Africans are acutely aware of the great economic difficulties our country has been experiencing and the constraints this has placed on public finances,” he said in a televised national address. “It is therefore imperative that in all areas and spheres of government, we place priority on revitalizing our economy while exercising the greatest care in the use of public funds.”

That will serve as an early barometer of his ability to push through change more efficiently, having struggled to implement tough reforms since he succeeded scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma last year.

Analysts described Ramaphosa’s cabinet picks as a market-friendly outcome that maintains important allies in key ministries while sidelining some top officials in the ruling African National Congress accused of corruption and mismanagement.

“In all, the cabinet appointments announced tonight speak of a new confidence in the Ramaphosa administration,” said Razia Khan, chief Africa economist at Standard Chartered Bank.

“Should this momentum and seemingly newfound confidence be built on with the pursuit of further structural reform, then markets would be correct to react positively.”

Some analysts, however, expressed concern over the number of deputy ministers, which remained at above 30.

“Trimming the size of cabinet by the size he did is a strong message, but creating so many deputy ministries is a problem. So, no, it’s not enough yet,” said Ralph Mathekga, an independent political analyst.

The immediate task of the new cabinet will be to help Ramaphosa revive Africa’s most industrialized economy and preserve its last investment-grade credit rating.

Ramaphosa’s long to-do list also includes generating jobs, acting against entrenched corruption in and outside the ANC, resolving policy uncertainty in the mining sector, and speeding up reforms of power utility Eskom and other state-owned entities.

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