Who's new: The ministers taking over portfolios after the Cabinet reshuffle

Joe Phaahla, Mondli Gungubele, Enoch Gondongwana, Senzo Mchunu and Thandi Modise are taking up ministerial roles.

FILE: New Finance Minster Enoch Godongwana. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/Eyewitness News.

JOHANNESBURG - Following much speculation about the Cabinet reshuffle, President Cyril Ramaphosa finally announced the new kids on the block who would take up new positions in the executive.

On Thursday night, the president announced that Mondli Gungubele would take over from the late Jackson Mthembu as Minister in the Presidency. The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has been split, with Mmamoloko Kubayi taking the leadership for the Human Settlements Department. Ramaphosa moved Senzo
Mchunu from the Department of Public Service and Administration to the new Department of Water and Sanitation.

The Department of Defence and Military Veterans also has a new leader - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise.

Most notably, Joe Phaahla comes in as the new Minister of Health after embattled Zweli Mkhize resigned, while Enoch Godongwana takes over the country's coffers as Minister of Finance after Tito Mboweni also resigned.

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The ins and outs of Ramaphosa's Cabinet reshuffle

Joe Phaahla (64) - Minister of Health
Seen as reserved and usually operating behind the scenes, Phaahla is now thrust in the spotlight to direct the country’s response to COVID-19. Ramaphosa chose a steady hand with extensive experience.

Phaahla served as the deputy minister of health for seven years from 2014 until 2021 under the leadership of both Aaron Motsoaledi and now disgraced Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

Phaahla is a medical doctor and holds a bachelor of medicine and a bachelor of surgery from the university of KwaZulu-Natal and has practiced medicine in various hospitals across the country.

His path then took a political turn in 1991 when he became a member of provincial executive committee of African National Congress in Limpopo.

He became the first MEC for Health and Social Development in Limpopo in 1997 and later served as MEC of Education, Sports and Culture .

His political ambitions ascended - as he joined the national structures of the governing party in 2007 – as a member of its national executive committee.

Two years later he was appointed deputy minister of rural development and land reform and then moved as second in command in the Arts and Culture Ministry in 2014.

As the newly appointed health minister his biggest challenge is accelerating at neck breaking speed the COVID-19 vaccination ahead of a looming fourth wave. He also has to stabilise the department and clean up – in the aftermath of a corruption scandal that not only implicated his predecessor but other senior officials.

Enoch Godongwana (64) - Minister of Finance
Gondongwana is not necessarily a well-known public figure, spending much of his political career working in the background rather than taking centre stage.

He's served in deputy ministerial roles in the departments of public enterprises and economic development.

He is a familiar face in the country's economic landscape, having chaired the ANC's economic transformation subcommittee and served as the chairperson of the Development Bank of Southern Africa and director of paper company Mondi, as well as Platinum Group Metals.

But he's not without controversy. Godongwana unceremoniously departed public office in 2012, quitting over his involvement with a company that allegedly defrauded clothing factory workers of R100 million in pension fund money.

Mondli Gungubele (64) - Minister in the Presidency
The former Ekurhuleni mayor caught the attention of many when he made it to Parliament after his tenure of being at the helm of the East Rand metro came to an end, with many praising his attention to detail and questioning of issues in some of the portfolio committees.

That was his second stint, having first served in the National Assembly between May 2009 and November 2010.

He was one of the few defiant voices in the ANC, speaking out against then president of both the party and the country Jacob Zuma. He went as far as disclosing that he would vote with the opposition in a secret ballot motion of no confidence against Zuma, this catapulted Gungubele to those who were at odds with the former leader, even earning the MP a position as deputy finance minister in 2018.

The ANC leader who holds a degree in law and a diploma in nursing also served the Gauteng government, where he was previously an MEC for health, social development and community services as well as sports and culture

He served under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration following Zuma’s removal by the ANC but was shortly axed following the 2019 general elections.

Gungubele, who was once accused of being complicit in corruption by a whistleblower, resigned along with the public investment cooperation.

Senzo Mchunu (63) - Minister of Water and Sanitation
Minister Senzo Mchunu has served as the political head for the Department of Public Service and Administration since May 2019, when President Ramaphosa appointed his first executive following the national elections.

This was his first position as head of a governmental department after serving as KwaZulu-Natal Premier between 2013 and 2015 after he was voted ANC chairperson in the province.

Prior to that, he served as Education MEC in KwaZulu-Natal between 2009 and 2013.

He was a member of the KZN legislature from 1997, while holding different positions of the ANC in the province during the time.

Mchunu is regarded as a Ramaphosa ally in ANC circles. He even contested the position of secretary general against Ace Magashule on the president’s slate during the 2017 Nasrec conference.

Thandi Modise (61) - Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
With president Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Thursday, speaker of the national assembly’s 6th parliament Thandi Modise will abandon a position she’s held since the 2019 general elections to now lead the country’s defence force.

Modise who’s often painted as an iron lady has been widely respected over her handling of parliament and has gained adoration over her military accolades and role in the ANC’s military wing Umkhonto WeSizwe during the struggle for liberation – she left the country in her teens and was part of the June 16 detachment, which was made up mostly of young people who wanted to take up the fight against the repressive apartheid regime following the 1976 clash, which saw police using live ammunition against demonstrating students in Soweto.

In leaving for exile Modise found her way to training camps in Angola and Tanzania, where she rose to become a commissar and eventually a commander of the MK. Some of her training included in urban and rural guerrilla warfare, becoming an explosive specialist and serving as a political commissar.

Two years after slipping out of the country she returned and was arrested a year later, in 1979. Modise was sentenced the following year to ten years behind bars, she became the first woman arrested for MK activities in apartheid South Africa.

Her roles in governance also stretch between provincial and national structures, which saw her appointed North West premier between 2010 and 2014, before that she was elected speaker to the North West provincial legislature.
Modise was then deployed to the national council of provinces, where she served as chairperson, alongside Baleka Mbete who was the speaker of the national assembly then. Modise herself took on the role of speaker of parliament following the 2019 national elections.

In the ANC Modise has been part of both the party and its Women’s league’s national executive committees since the 1990’s. she has also played senior roles in both organisations, which included being elected as both deputy and acting president of the Women’s league between 1994 and 2004.

She also served as deputy secretary general of the ANC from 2007 until 2012.

In April this year Modise was cleared by the courts after being accused of animal cruelty after carcasses were found on her farm where it appeared animals were left unattended without food or water for about two weeks.

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