[WATCH] President Ramaphosa announces Cabinet reshuffle

Rumours of a reshuffle have been swirling ever since the resignation of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba nine days ago.

FILE: President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

PRETORIA - President Cyril Rampahosa is announcing changes to his executive to fill the vacancies left by the resignation of Malusi Gigaba as Home Affairs Minister nine days ago and the death of Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa in September.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has been named as Communications and Telecommunications Minister in a newly merged ministry.

Siyabonga Cwele is the new Home Affairs Minister.

Nomvula Mokonyane will take over as Environmental Affairs Minister.

Ramaphosa says he was mindful of the need to have a resolute and stable Cabinet.

The president also announced that Ndabeni-Abrahams will now be in charge of two portfolios - reducing his Cabinet - which has been heavily criticised for being bloated.

“I’ve also decided to merge the ministries of communication and telecommunications and postal services into a single ministry under the new minister.”

Those ministries are critical to ensuring South Africa’s long-overdue digital migration and the opening up of the spectrum to ensure greater access to the internet.

Ramaphosa explains the reasons behind this merger: “This move is going to ensure that we have better alignment and co-ordination of matters that are critical to the future of our economy, particularly in the context of the fourth industrial revolution.”

WATCH: Ramaphosa announces Cabinet reshuffle

It appears Ramaphosa has opted not to rock the party - opting for a party elder in Cwele to replace Gigaba as Home Affairs Minister.

ANC insiders also say he chose someone from Kwa-Zulu Natal to avoid further friction within the fragmented party ahead of the 2019 elections.

The ANC in Kwa-Zulu Natal is still licking its wounds after failing to secure a position in the ANC’s top six at the December elective conference.

That faction backed Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ahead of the conference and lost.

Cwele, like Gigaba, was seen to be part of Jacob Zuma’s faction - and the swop will be seen as appeasing the former president’s group amid claims of a purge.

These assertions were fuelled by the removal of former North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo and later, Gigaba’s resignation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made 3 changes to his cabinet on Thursday

On 13 November it was announced that Gigaba had submitted his letter of resignation to the Presidency, stating he had chosen to place the interests of the African National Congress and the country above his personal interests.

This came after a difficult few weeks in which pressure mounted from opposition parties for him to step down.

Two weeks prior to his resignation, the Constitutional Court rejected his application for leave to appeal a High Court ruling which that found he had lied under oath in the Fireblade Aviation matter.

On 31 October 2018, the Public Protector found that Gigaba violated the Constitution and the executive members' ethics code when he lied under oath about allowing the Oppenheimers permission to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane directed the president to discipline Gigaba for lying in court and that Gigaba also needed to account to Parliament.

The position of Environmental Affairs Minister has been vacant since September when Edna Molewa succumbed to a viral infection.