South Africa’s New Cabinet Hits the Gender Balance Sweet Spot

South Africa's new cabinet

On Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his new cabinet. Ramaphosa was sworn in as the sixth democratically-elected president of South Africa pledging to revive the stagnating economy, create jobs and fight corruption.

50% of new South Africa Cabinet members are women, making it one of three African countries alongside Rwanda and Ethiopia, to achieve gender equality among ministers, according to U.N. Women

“For the first time in the history of our country, half of all ministers are women. In appointing a new national executive, I have taken a number of considerations into account, including experience, continuity, competence, generational mix and demographic and regional diversity,” he said.

Ramaphosa slashed the number of ministers from 36 to 28 to promote greater coherence and improve efficiency by cutting on spending which some political analysts have described as a market-friendly outcome that maintains important allies in key ministries while sidelining some top officials accused of corruption and mismanagement.

“All South Africans are acutely aware of the great economic difficulties our country has been experiencing and the constraints this has placed on public finances. It is therefore imperative that in all areas and spheres of government, we place a priority on revitalizing our economy while exercising the greatest care in the use of public funds,” he said.

Although the number of ministers had been significantly cut down, some analyst raised concern that the number of Deputy Ministers is more than that of Ministers.

“Trimming the size of cabinet by the size he did is a strong message, but creating so many deputy ministries is a problem. So no, it’s not enough yet,” said Ralph Mathekga, an independent political analyst.

In his new cabinet, Ramaphosa has included a significant number of young people and an opposition party leader to the surprise of many. The immediate task of the new cabinet will be to help Ramaphosa revive Africa’s most industrialized economy and preserve its investments.

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