Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has sworn in the newly-appointed ministers and deputy ministers announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his cabinet reshuffle on Thursday night.
The new members of the executive are tasked with strengthening the capacity of the state to deliver but in a number of cases, reputational damage will need to first be managed.
The atmosphere was jovial as the new ministers and deputy ministers were sworn in on Friday morning at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
In the video below, is the swearing in of new cabinet ministers:
President Ramaphosa and Acting Chief Justice Zondo took time to share a joke ahead of proceedings.
Then it was down to business. First up was the taking of the Oath of Office by new minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana.
Godongwana was followed by the other new ministers Mondli Gungubele, who is Minister in the Presidency and Joe Phahla as Minister of Health, as well as the newly minted-deputy ministers.
Speaking after the ceremony Newly-appointed Health Minister Joe Phahla has committed to meeting ambitious targets for South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.
Phahla is not new to the health portfolio having served as Deputy Minister since May 2014. He says that the department will push to meet the target of inoculating 300 000 South Africans a day, and a minimum of a million people a week.
Phahla has described the resignation of his predecessor Zweli Mkize as unfortunate and says he and his team will work to restore the image of the Health Ministry.
Mkhize resigned on Thursday amidst allegations of procurement irregularities linked to communication company Digital Vibes.
Phahla says, “Well, it was quite an unfortunate development which we know has cast a dark cloud on the department. So, we will do everything in terms of just assuring the public that we will do everything by the book in line with all the regulations in terms of procurement and other administrative management roles. We can ask the public to judge us by our actions. We will be ensuring that everything follows proper procedures.”
Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, who has replaced the late Jackson Mthembu, has defended President Ramaphosa’s decision to do away with the Ministry of State Security and place the responsibility for the State Security Agency in his office.
In the video below, reaction to changes made to the Security Cluster:
The agency has for years been embroiled in scandal with a 2018 high-level review panel finding widespread abuse of the intelligence services and evidence of it being used for political ends and ANC factional battles.
However, there has been concern in some quarters that the move represents a centralisation of power by President Ramaphosa and consolidation of his position amidst on-going struggles within the governing party.
“I see nothing wrong with president shifting it into his space so that stabilisation of such a sensitive institution is fast-tracked because that is one institution that cannot be found wanting even for a minute. So, in that context, I think tactically what the president has done, taking into account the challenges that have been faced recently, I think the president is on course.”
The appointment of the new finance minister has been without controversy.
Godongwana says those questioning his credentials based on the matter of investment company Canyon Springs are simply trying to taint his name.
He and his wife held a 50% interest in the company which was illegally loaned clothing workers’ pension funds money which subsequently disappeared.
In January 2012, a Commission of Inquiry found that the Godongwanas “were party to the carrying on of the business of the company, either fraudulently or at least recklessly.”
At the time Godongwana resigned as Deputy Minister of Economic Development.
“What I did at the time was to resign from government something that has never happened and after resigning, I dealt with that matter without tainting the office. Having dealt with it, I have managed to clear myself and in the process of doing that, I have been serving on international boards. I am subjected to international scrutiny and that matter, as far as I am concerned, is just being raised trying to discredit me.”
For now, the new appointees will have to hit the ground running in their various portfolios to ensure that thy effectively undertake the tasks bestowed upon them.