Ramaphosa Considers Cabinet Changes in Bid to Drive Reforms

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is considering making changes to his cabinet after he meets the ruling party’s leadership this weekend, people familiar with the deliberations said.

The meeting could be a showdown between the president and his rivals within the African National Congress, the people said, asking not to be identified as a public statement hasn’t been made. Ramaphosa is looking for ways to revive South Africa’s stagnant economy and help boost investor confidence in his administration.

The economy, already in recession before the coronavirus outbreak struck, is forecast to contract 7.2% this year, according to the Treasury. Ramaphosa has talked of the urgent need for reforms to revive output, but the slow pace of government policy changes needed to approve everything from new renewable-energy plants to the sale of telecommunications spectrum has drawn criticism from business leaders and labor unions.

No decisions have been made on any change of cabinet ministers, the people said. The president hasn’t discussed any potential changes with the top six officials of the ruling African National Congress, as is customary, one of the people said.

Presidency spokesman Tyrone Seale referred a request for comment to ANC spokesman Pule Mabe, who asked that questions be sent by text messages, to which he didn’t immediately respond.

Slow Reforms

The collapse of South Africa’s economy, partly due to the pandemic, has been exacerbated by the lack of reforms coming from the Ramaphosa administration, business leaders say. The mines and energy ministry has been slow to approve new power plants and little progress has been made improving the performance of indebted state companies overseen by the the public enterprises ministry.

Ramaphosa is being pushed to act decisively as the public standing of the ANC has taken a battering from revelations that party officials and their family members benefited from contracts to supply the government with medical equipment needed to fight the virus.

Last weekend, Ramaphosa wrote to party members saying they needed to root out corruption as the ANC has become “accused No. 1.” On Friday, former President Jacob Zuma, who is facing corruption charges, wrote to Ramaphosa saying that his actions could “destroy the ANC.”

READ: Ramaphosa Says ANC Is Accused No. 1 in South African Graft

In a series of Twitter posts last night that were later deleted, Finance Minister and Ramaphosa ally Tito Mboweni decried the corruption in the party.

“This corruption THING must end now!” he said in one of the posts. “We cannot have thieves in our organization.”

Mboweni has repeatedly expressed his frustration in government and has been said by analysts to be at risk of quitting. If he did resign, his potential replacement could be Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, one of the people said.

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