South Africa's Brand New Government - Still a Difficult Work in Progress

President Cyril Ramaphosa announces his new cabinet on May 29, 2019.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's appointment of his first post-election Cabinet was always going to be the first public expression of his own assessment of his own power within the ANC. This Cabinet gives a strong impression that those who thought he had managed to strongly consolidate power were misguided.

He has had to retain many people who have not shown extreme competence in their positions, and even some who appear to have actively worked against his agenda in the past. Despite the fact he has been able to retain some important symbols of his "new dawn", he now appears weaker than previously thought.

Ramaphosa's Cabinet contains many old faces and names, while some of the newer members do not necessarily appear to sing from the Thuma Mina hymn-sheet. That said, he has been able to win some of the battles that were of crucial importance to him. He retains the people he needs to control public finances, continue the cleanup at Public Enterprises, and ensures that the Justice Ministry is not used against him.

To go through the "new" Cabinet list is to be struck by how many people retain their positions. Ebrahim Patel "moves" from Economic Development to Trade and...

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