President Cyril Ramaphosa has allocated specific responsibilities to all deputy ministers, countering criticism that they are unnecessary and often on a free ride of ministerial benefits.
Like ministers, the deputy ministers have also signed performance agreements.
Another significant undertaking under President Ramaphosa’s reconfiguration of government departments has been the relinquishing of the Government Communication and Information System from the clutches of the department of communication and moving it to the stewardship of newly appointed Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu.
Brand SA and the Media Development and Diversity Agency have also moved to the office of the presidency under the president’s direct watch.
Ramaphosa communicated these significant changes on Friday through a media statement.
When revealing his Cabinet last month, Ramaphosa announced a reconfigured national executive, and at the time committed to a process of further reforms to “promote coherence, better coordination and improved efficiency” of government.
The president announced that Ronald Lamola, who was appointed minister of justice and correctional services, would be assisted by two deputies – ANC veteran John Jeffery and Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa.
On Friday, Ramaphosa stated that Holomisa would assist in the correctional services department while Jeffery would be second in command in the department of justice and constitutional development.
In the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, Mcebisi Skwatsha will be responsible for land reform while Sdumo Dlamini will be in charge of rural development.
The two deputies in the ministry of cooperative governance and traditional affairs will split their responsibilities as follows: Parks Tau will be second in command overseeing local government, while the duties regarding traditional affairs will be administered by Obed Bapela.
Pam Tshwete will oversee the human settlements portfolio in the ministry of human settlements, water and sanitation while water and sanitation’s responsibilities will fall under the stewardship of David Mahlobo.
While some departments remain mostly unchanged, some have had to assume more responsibilities.
One such department is public works, entrusted to Patricia de Lille.
She is set to assume added responsibilities that were not a function of the ministry under her predecessors.
These include being responsible for “coordinating responsibility for all public infrastructure development”.
The president revealed that pronouncements relating to how duties would be shared under the ministries of international relations and cooperation, and trade and industry, would be made in due course.
Apart from ensuring that deputy ministers understand their roles, the resolution to reconfigure government departments is in part also an attempt by Ramaphosa to ensure better governance structures for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and a clean-up campaign for this sixth administration.
Ramaphosa revealed that the reconfiguration would also ensure that SOEs were streamlined. Under the previous administration they were allegedly used as cash cows to benefit a few political figures and those associated with them.
The reconfiguration has led to the folding of five departments, which have been merged with others.
However, there are concerns that the reconstitution of government departments could also generate an enormous fiscal drag.
Through expanding some departments, there may be a need for a number of new government offices, officials and associated assets.
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