CAPE TOWN – With Cyril Ramaphosa likely to be elected as the country’s new president on Thursday afternoon, speculation is already starting to mount over changes he might make to the Cabinet and deputy ministers he has inherited from Jacob Zuma.
Zuma’s eleventh-hour decision to step down means that the motion of no confidence planned for the National Assembly today will no longer go ahead.
Instead, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng is expected to preside over the election of a new president, who will almost certainly be Cyril Ramaphosa.
It will be up to Ramaphosa to choose his deputy president but the big question is whether it will be Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba who delivers the Budget speech next Wednesday.
Names in the mix for deputy president include those of Lindiwe Sisulu, his running mate for the ANC presidency, and ANC deputy president David Mabuza, given the tradition which saw Thabo Mbeki appoint Jacob Zuma as his deputy president and Zuma pick Cyril Ramaphosa in 2014.
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who lost the race for the ANC’s top job, may also be a possibility, as building unity will be one of Ramaphosa’s key goals.
While Ramaphosa has inherited a bloated executive, with ministers tainted by allegations of corruption and impropriety, he’s likely to act cautiously at first, to avoid suggestions of a purge.
But to reinforce a clean break with Jacob Zuma’s scandal-ridden tenure, Ramaphosa might change some key posts – the most obvious being Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, who is set to deliver the national Budget on Wednesday.