Zuma's many cabinet reshuffles saw public servants operating in silos: Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa, delivering his budget vote policy statement in the National Assembly on Wednesday, said the frequent reshuffles of ministers led to instability and misalignment.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, delivering his budget vote policy statement in the National Assembly on Wednesday, said the frequent reshuffles of ministers led to instability and misalignment.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has lambasted frequent cabinet reshuffles under his predecessor Jacob Zuma, saying they resulted in policy uncertainty and a government operating in silos.

Ramaphosa stopped short of calling for an end to the use of blue light cavalcades by his ministers, saying his government would demonstrate prudent use of public money "not  outward shows of excess like bling and blue lights".

Ramaphosa was delivering his budget vote policy statement in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

"There were frequent reshuffles of ministers and a high turnover of senior managers on both provincial and national level that led to instability and misalignment as well as created instability and confusion," Ramaphosa said of the government he inherited.

He said there was a lack of co-ordination between the different layers of government.

"We have slid into a pattern of operating in silos," he said. "This has led to lack of coherence in planning and implementation, and has made monitoring and oversight of government's programme difficult," which, he added, became a deterrent to investment.

In an attempt to display his boldness, Ramaphosa insisted that the presidency was not afraid to act. "This is also a presidency that is not afraid of ideas; a presidency that is re-engaging with the intellectual community to harvest ideas that will take our country forward," he said.

He used the address to detail how his government would be different from Zuma's, adding that the sixth administration of government would speak with one voice. He said there would be prudent use of public finances.

"It will not pursue pet projects that are disjointed and misaligned with national priorities. It will epitomise a caring state that is prudent with public finances and that derives its respect from masses through hard work and not outward shows of excess like bling and blue lights," he said.

Ramaphosa told the house that truancy among his ministers would not be tolerated, saying they would be regularly appearing in parliament to answer questions in the National Assembly and at portfolio committee meetings.

In the last parliament, opposition parties accused ministers of shirking their responsibility to account to parliament, often sending apologies instead of attending question-and-answer sessions.

The president said things will be done differently, and the state will no longer be distant from the people. "The top-down approach is outdated and wholly out of step with the realities we face: namely undoing a legacy of skewed development that is not decades but centuries old," Ramaphosa said, pledging to end fragmentation in government. 

He called for MPs to collaborate across the political divide. 

"The endless focus on petty squabbles, on intra-party politics and on political brinkmanship does not serve our people well," Ramaphosa said. 


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