'Depts where less ministers would not be able to do work without their deputies'

Earlier this week the country was on tenterhooks ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of what he'd promised would be a leaner Cabinet.

Ramaphosa did cut the number of ministries from 36 to 28, but came in for some criticism because of the number of deputy ministers - he appointed 34, with some combined ministries now sitting with two deputies.

Read: Ramaphosa announces his new Cabinet, De Lille makes the team

Thokozani Chilenga-Butao is an associate lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).

She weighs in on Ramaphosa's possible reasons for this decision and describes what deputy ministers actually do.

Although their mandate is broad, she says, they basically function as the right hand of the minister.

That could involve anything from policy formulation, policy implementation, oversight of the department to really making sure that the department is getting the resources that it needs from national government, in getting support from communities...

Thokozani Chilenga-Butao, Associate lecturer in political studies - Wits University

The scope and nature of some departments is so large that it wouldn't really be possible to have one deputy minister.

Thokozani Chilenga-Butao, Associate lecturer in political studies - Wits University

There is work that needs to be done there, physically every day in terms of policies, and less ministers in the short term would not be able to do on their own without their deputies.

Thokozani Chilenga-Butao, Associate lecturer in political studies - Wits University

She uses the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as an example.

Those two mandates are not necessarily the same thing. It might make sense to have two deputy ministers within such a large department to enable them to concentrate on one or the other of those mandates and to clearly execute.

Thokozani Chilenga-Butao, Associate lecturer in political studies - Wits University

Chilenga-Butaosuccession says Ramaphosa may well have had succession planning in mind when he appointed some relatively young deputy ministers.

Hopefully those deputy ministers will grow into their roles and later succeed the ministers, so I think that was a smart move.

Thokozani Chilenga-Butao, Associate lecturer in political studies - Wits University

Listen to the discussion below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : 'Depts where less ministers would not be able to do work without their deputies'


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