Put SA first and lead, Mr President

President Cyril Ramaphosa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa finally announced his much-awaited cabinet last night after a long delay.

It was expected and wildly reported that he would appoint his new executive and present them to the nation on Monday, as his predecessors had done.

However, all that changed when Ramaphosa's office issued a statement on Sunday, saying this was not going to be the case.

"The presidency wishes to advise that the announcement will be made later in the week," reads the statement, citing the constitution. "The constitution of the republic stipulates that the president must assume office within five days of being elected by the National Assembly - and thereafter appoint a cabinet and assign its powers and functions."

The correspondence from the presidency plunged the nation into the unknown as it was not clear who was running the affairs of the nation as we waited for the new executive.

This was Ramaphosa beginning his journey as the first citizen on a wrong footing as he made us wait for three days, confused.

The prolonged delay left even some of the former ministers in disarray as to whether they should continue working or not, a few of them were seen launching programmes or addressing matters pertaining to their erstwhile ministries.

The first citizen put party politics before the nation as his focus on the ANC, as he consulted the party, its women's league and alliance partners on who to appoint into the executive. And he also waited for some key leaders, who were flagged by the party's integrity committee for bringing the party into disrepute, to clear their names.

As much as we appreciate that Ramaphosa has to seek advice from his party, the constitution is clear that the powers to appoint the cabinet rests solely with the president.

Ramaphosa's actions suggest that he does not have the full authority he ought to have as the president of the republic.

Granted, he is the country's number one on an ANC ticket, but he also needs to remember that he won elections - that was the message from South Africans declaring their confidence in him to lead.

So please, Mr President, lead.

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