Science, technology and higher education merged

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On Wednesday, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced  ministers and deputy ministers of the sixth administration.
On Wednesday, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced ministers and deputy ministers of the sixth administration.

Fresh on the heels of his inauguration, president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the ministers that will make up his trimmed down national executive, including the reconfiguration of key government departments.

On Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa told the nation the departments of higher education, and science and technology will be merged into one. This department will be headed by former transport minister, Blade Nzimande, with Buti Manamela as his deputy.

Dr Naledi Pandor, who served as both higher education and science and technology minister, has been moved to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

The president first touted a review of the size and structure of the national executive and government departments during last year’s State of the Nation Address.

At the time, he said it is critical the size and shape of the state is suited to meet the needs of the people and ensure the most efficient allocation of public resources. This is also part of government's economic stimulus and recovery plan.

Explaining the outcomes of the review process on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa said the administration has been guided by the need to build a modern and developmental state that has the means to drive economic and social transformation, to embrace innovation and to direct the effort and resources towards where they will have the greatest impact.

“All South Africans are acutely aware of the great economic difficulties our country has been experiencing and the constraints this has placed on public finances," he stated. “It is therefore imperative that in all areas and spheres of government, we place priority on revitalising our economy while exercising the greatest care in the use of public funds.

“To promote greater coherence, better coordination and improved efficiency, we have combined a number of portfolios, thereby reducing the number of ministers from 36 to 28.”

In total, Ramaphosa’s administration has combined eight portfolios, including the consolidated Department of Communications (DOC). “We had already combined the portfolios of communications and telecommunications and postal services,” he noted.

The DOC, which has undergone numerous leadership changes over the years, has retained Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams as its minister. She will continue as the head of the department overseeing SA’s ICT agenda with her counterpart Pinky Kekana.

In the past two years, the communications ministry has had five different department heads: Faith Muthambi, Ayanda Dlodlo, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Nomvula Mokonyane, and incumbent Ndabeni-Abrahams.

Speaking about the appointment of ministers for his Cabinet, Ramaphosa said: “If we are to make effective progress in building the South Africa that we all want, it is important that we deploy into positions of responsibility people who are committed, capable and hard-working, and who have integrity.

“In appointing a new national executive, I have taken a number of considerations into account, including experience, continuity, competence, generational mix and demographic and regional diversity.

“The people who I am appointing today must realise that the expectations of the South African people have never been greater and that they will shoulder a great responsibility. Their performance, individually and collectively, will be closely monitored against specific outcomes. Where implementation is unsatisfactory, action will be taken.”

Other notable members in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet include former City of Johannesburg mayor, Parks Tau, who is now deputy minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs. Barbara Creecy, former Gauteng MEC for the departments of finance and e-government, has been named minister of environment, forestry and fisheries. Former deputy minister of telecoms and postal services, professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, has been appointed as deputy minister in the presidency for women, youth and persons with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Pravin Gordhan returns to his post as public enterprises minister, and former Democratic Alliance member and Cape Town mayor, Patricia De Lille, takes up the post of minister of public works and infrastructure.

The new ministers will take their oath of office tomorrow. 

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