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Ndabeni-Abrahams has tough task ironing out issues in new portfolio

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that the Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services ministries will be merged and led by Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was appointed to take over the merged the Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services Departments. Picture: @SAGovNews/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Newly appointed Communications and Telecommunications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has a mammoth task ahead of her ironing out crippling issues that have affected not one but two portfolios in recent years.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that the Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services ministries will be merged and led by Ndabeni-Abrahams.

She’s served as the deputy Communications Minister for almost six years between 2011 and 2017.

Ndabeni-Abrahams has been described by the African National Congress (ANC) as a "tried and tested" young activist and someone who has experience in communications.

South Africa has been criticised for being behind in terms of digital technology and digital terrestrial television and perhaps Ndabeni-Abrahams will be the minister to take the process forward.

She was appointed as the deputy minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services in 2017 after the Communications portfolio was split.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made 3 changes to his cabinet on Thursday

Media Monitoring's William Bird says this merger is necessary.

But Bird also says it’s not going to be easy.

The departments will remain separate until after the 2019 elections.

Meanwhile, the 40-year-old Ndabeni-Abrahams becomes one of the younger ministers in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet.

Her appointment to an enlarged portfolio is largely seen as an attempt to appease the younger generation within the party amidst accusations that they are being purged or side-lined.

Malusi Gigaba’s resignation earlier this month again fuelled the generational mix debate, with some hatching a fightback plan.

They argued that the younger party members were not being considered for key appointments.

Ndabeni-Abrahams has risen within the party ranks, serving as the NEC member of the ANC Youth League during Fikile Mbalula’s tenure and recently she was also the spokesperson of the ANC in the Eastern Cape.

Ndabanei was a staunch supporter of Ramaphosa’s presidential bid in the run-up to the party’s 54th elective conference.

During his announcement, Ramaphosa acknowledged that changes to the Cabinet were guided by gender and the need for a generational mix, indicating that he considered political implications within the ANC.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)