The real work for Cyril Ramaphosa starts now. Delivering the state of the nation address is ceremonial; after that, he faces the arduous task of unravelling nine years of a corrupt and damaged administration under President Jacob Zuma.
The ANC has recalled Zuma from office and wants Ramaphosa to deliver the state of the nation address.
It is up to Zuma to adhere to the party’s request and resign. If he fails to do so, he could be removed by a motion of no confidence in Parliament.
According to the Constitution if the president is removed through a motion of no confidence by majority of members, the president and other members of the Cabinet and any deputy ministers must resign.
With Ramaphosa moving into the top position in the government, the ANC will have to decide on who will be his deputy. Mpumalanga ANC chairman David Mabuza was elected ANC deputy president in December. However, it is no guarantee that he will automatically become Ramaphosa’s deputy in the government.
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says the governing party has not yet decided who should be deputy president in the period before the 2019 general elections.
Ramaphosa’s first task as president will be to reshuffle the Cabinet, which is littered with ministers caught up in allegations of state capture and dodgy dealings. He will need to rid his Cabinet of people who are seen to be aligned to the controversial Gupta family and to have aided state capture. He would not want them on his team with the judicial commission of inquiry into the allegations looming.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba could likely be removed, which means he will not deliver the budget speech scheduled for February 21. Gigaba has been toeing the Treasury line, but he is regarded as one of the main facilitators of state capture during his tenure as public enterprises minister.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, who also ensured that state-owned companies were peppered with Gupta family associates and connections, will most likely also find herself out of a job. Under her stewardship Eskom and South African Airways (SAA) steered themselves into financial problems.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who flew to Dubai and Geneva to help the Gupta family purchase a mine; Co-operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen, who the public protector says misled Parliament by claiming he never met the Guptas; and Public Administration Minister Faith Muthambi, who allegedly shared confidential cabinet information with the Guptas, will all most likely be out.
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who has steered the South African Social Security Agency into a mess that threatens the well-being of the poorest citizens, is facing a Constitutional Court-mandated inquiry into why she should not be held liable for the legal costs of trying to sort it out. She should not be retained in the Cabinet.
Others whose cabinet positions should also be on the line are Energy Minister David Mahlobo, who is believed to have been put in the position to advance Zuma’s nuclear plans, and Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, whose department is massively in debt.
Ramaphosa will also have to clean up democratic institutions, which were hollowed out by the Zuma administration.
The first institution that has to be dealt with is the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the first task there is the removal of Shaun Abrahams as national director of public prosecutions.
Over the past decade, the NPA has been seen to be politically captured and biased in Zuma’s favour, although Abrahams has recently slowly restarted Zuma’s prosecution.
In 2017, the High Court in Pretoria reviewed Abrahams’s appointment and set it aside. It found that Zuma was too conflicted to appoint a director of prosecutions and this should be done by Ramaphosa. It is not clear who will replace Abrahams, but there have been some calls that Ramaphosa appoint former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Ramaphosa has already started the clean-up at state-owned enterprises, with a change in the leadership at Eskom. SAA, Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA are also in need of new leaders who are not corrupt.
Ramaphosa and his new administration have a full plate to clear and little time to do so. This year political parties will start their campaigning for the 2019 general elections.
These changes could be key to whether the governing party can stay in power.
The ANC’s performance in urban areas in the 2016 local government elections was dismal — it lost the control of three metro councils. If it does not clean up its act, the ANC could easily lose another province in the national elections.