Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Thursday, 04 July 2024 11:37

Ntshavheni says to voters 'in order to make lemonade from lemons', there's a cost.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has shifted the blame to the electorate for the increase of the cabinet stating that the election outcomes necessitated it.

Ntshavheni addressed the media in the first briefing of the 7th administration on Thursday morning, following the swearing-in of all members of the national executive.

She began her briefing by acknowledging the size of the new Cabinet, saying the electoral outcome meant that it was "no longer possible for the President to fulfil the undertaking he had previously made to reduce the number of portfolios in the National Executive" due to the need to accommodate so many parties.

Ntshavheni said this was an outcome of voters' choices – and indicated that if voters were unhappy, they should consider making different choices in the next election.

Voters must accept that "in order to make lemonade from lemons", there's a cost, Ntshavheni said. 

The new executive totals 76 members, including 32 ministers and 43 deputy ministers, representing nine different political parties.

This inclusive composition integrates members from former opposition parties now assuming various portfolios within the government of national unity. 

Despite criticisms of its size, Ntshavheni defended president Cyril Ramaphosa's decision, stating that the election outcomes necessitated it.

"In simple terms, the size of the national executive is a result of our electoral outcome with the need to be inclusive. In addition, the constitution of the National Executive had to be cognizant of other national interests, such as demographics, geographic spread, youth and gender representation," said Ntshavheni.

Ntshavheni indicated that department directors-general are analysing the manifestos of all the signatories to the GNU in order to present proposed priorities and a programme of action to Cabinet. These would be reflected in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) to be presented by the President at the opening of Parliament on 18 July 2024.

She stressed, however, that the GNU's choice of priorities would have to be aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP) adopted in 2012.

Ntshavheni made a point of highlighting the concept of "collective responsibility" which now falls on the shoulders of all members of the GNU.

"There is no single minister who can expropriate a decision of Cabinet to themselves," she said.

Ntshavheni explained that all issues which are not "routine, departmentally-specific" matters must first be referred to Cabinet for a decision.

"It should be stressed that both the President and individual ministers are duty bound to take to the Cabinet issues of policy [and] significant decisions," she said.

"Failure to do so could undermine the validity of such a decision."

The minister also said members of the GNU should consider themselves as having "collapsed themselves into a governing party" which would act as a disciplined collective.