S.Africa inaugurates unprecedented unity government

Africa |Author: AFP | July 5, 2024, Friday @ 06:50| 1799 views

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (L) smiles as SOuth African Minister of Agriculture John Steenhuisen (C)shakes hands with South African Deputy President Paul Mashatile (R) at the sitting of the South African Parliament for the swearing in of Cabinet Ministers, on July 03, 2024, in Cape Town. South Africa's new unity government under President Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in on Wednesday, the first of its kind in the country after 30 years of rule by the ANC.

Ahead of the 32 ministers -- from six parties -- making up the cabinet, Paul Mashatile, who has been re-appointed deputy president, was the first to take the oath during the televised ceremony in Cape Town. (Photo by RODGER BOSCH / AFP)

South Africa's new unity government under President Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in on Wednesday, the first of its kind in the country after 30 years of rule by the ANC.

Ahead of the 32 ministers -- from six parties -- making up the cabinet, Paul Mashatile, who has been re-appointed deputy president, was the first to take the oath during the televised ceremony in Cape Town.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa, 71, unveiled his highly anticipated coalition government, which includes the leader of the former main opposition party and sees the number of ministries rise from 30 to 32. There are also 43 deputy ministers.

His African National Congress (ANC), which has governed since the advent of democracy in 1994, sought to form a government of national unity after losing its outright parliamentary majority in May 29 elections.

The historied party, which won just over 40 percent in the poll, keeps 20 cabinet positions, including foreign affairs, finance, defence, justice and police.

Its largest coalition partner and long-time critic, the Democratic Alliance (DA), won 21.8 percent and will head six ministries, including agriculture, public works and communication.

DA leader John Steenhuisen, 48, was appointed agriculture minister.

Along with his party, he has criticised the ANC for failing to tackle high violent crime rates, a lacklustre economy and a crippling energy crisis.

The Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party, anti-immigration Patriotic Alliance, right-wing Afrikaans party Freedom-Front Plus and other smaller parties will hold six cabinet positions between them.

Fourteen ministers are women and there are 18 women serving as deputy ministers.

The new government heralds a pragmatic shift to the centre right, bringing hope for better governance but also cohesion fears.

US President Joe Biden called Ramaphosa on Tuesday "to congratulate him on his recent election and the successful formation of the government of national unity", according to the presidency.

Ramaphosa has been under fire from opposition and business leaders over the number of ministers, with fears that the government will become immobilised and a waste of taxpayers' money.

Each minister earns over 2.5 million rand ($135,000) a year, while deputy ministers are paid more than 2.2 million rand ($119,000), according to the government gazette.

Perks include elaborate state security, travel allowances and ministerial homes in Cape Town, the seat of parliament, and the administrative capital, Pretoria.

The opposition leftist Economic Freedom Fighters voiced concern "that this cabinet has been increased and bloated, signalling more pressure on taxpayers".

© Agence France-Presse


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