Pretoria – President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday ushered in his new administration with bold promises of overcoming poverty within a generation.
Ramaphosa also promised to deal with the challenges facing the country, including the squandering of resources and corruption.
In his inauguration speech, which he delivered in under 30 minutes, Ramaphosa said in the post-1994 period South Africans had watched as some of those in power whom they had invested their trust in had surrendered to the temptation of power and riches.
“They have seen some of the institutions of our democracy eroded and resources squandered,” he told the thousands at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Tshwane.
Ramaphosa said while the challenges were real, they were not insurmountable. “Let us declare our shared determination that we shall end poverty in South Africa within a generation.”
He declared that when the country celebrated its 50th year of freedom, in 2044, there would no longer be a person who is unable to meet their basic needs.
However, Ramaphosa warned that the road ahead would be difficult and required a rare ambition.
“As we make this bold declaration, we are aware of the depth of the challenges we must confront.”
Ramaphosa said everyone should work together and forge a compact – not merely as business and labour, not as those who govern and those who are governed – but as citizens and patriots, free and equal and resolute.
“Let us forge a compact for an efficient, capable and ethical state, a state that is free from corruption, for companies that generate social value and propel human development, for elected officials and public servants who faithfully serve no other cause than that of the public.”
Ramaphosa is expected to announce his new executive on Sunday, which is likely to have 25 ministers and just over half a dozen deputy ministers.
Pressure to not appoint Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan mounted on Sunday following Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s release of a report on Gordhan’s approval of former acting Sars commissioner Ivan Pillay and his retention as deputy commissioner.
Gordhan and Pillay have already announced that they intend taking the report on a High Court review.
EFF leader Julius Malema warned Ramaphosa against appointing Gordhan to his new administration.
“The EFF is going to defend this report of the public protector like it did with her predecessor Thuli Madonsela’s state of capture report,” he said.
Malema demanded that Mkhwebane’s report, which was released on Friday, be implemented, that Ramaphosa respect the Chapter 9 institution and that Gordhan do the “honourable thing” and tell the country he is not available to serve in the new Cabinet.
Malema said Ramaphosa would be a “constitutional delinquent” with no respect for the constitution and therefore no different from former president Jacob Zuma – who was heavily implicated in Madonsela’s state of capture report – if he did not take action on Gordhan.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Ramaphosa’s Cabinet must be smaller, not have criminals in it and be streamlined to ensure jobs were delivered.
Cosatu’s first deputy president Mike Shingange said Ramaphosa’s speech was inspiring and scenes such as yesterday’s were last seen in 1994 when people had renewed hope.
He warned Ramaphosa to fix the challenges that had troubled successive post-1994 administrations of having good policies and poor implementation.
Shingange was confident that South Africans would give Ramaphosa and his new administration a chance.
“We expect his Cabinet to be lean. We were the first to raise the issue of the Cabinet being too huge, some of the deputy ministers are not necessary,” Shingange said.
He said some of the economic cluster ministries could be merged along with those responsible for providing infrastructure. Shingange said Ramaphosa should not appoint ministers in order to manage the political difficulties the ANC was going through.
He said Cosatu, which had backed Ramaphosa ahead of the governing party’s December 2017 national conference, wanted members of the executive who were not tainted with corruption allegations or else it would be very difficult for the founding general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (Ramaphosa)to lead his administration effectively.