July 23, 2024
Home » South Africa: President Ramaphosa announces opposition leader John Steenhuisen as Agriculture Minister

South Africa: President Ramaphosa announces opposition leader John Steenhuisen as Agriculture Minister


In a landmark move aimed at fostering political unity and diversity in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen as the new Minister of Agriculture, marking the first in a series of cabinet changes that include opposition parties.

Ramaphosa’s announcement, made late Sunday night, also included significant adjustments to ministerial portfolios, reflecting a strategic effort to broaden the government’s representation and incorporate diverse viewpoints.

The appointment comes amidst tense negotiations between the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and opposition parties, particularly the DA, which holds 87 parliamentary seats compared to the ANC’s 159. Reports of leaked documents highlighting disagreements over cabinet positions between Ramaphosa and Steenhuisen have circulated on social media, underscoring the complexity of forming a coalition government.

“The ANC has accused the DA of making ‘outrageous demands’ for more than 10 cabinet positions, including some of the most critical portfolios,” according to an AP report. These negotiations have been pivotal in shaping the composition of the new cabinet, reflecting a delicate balance of power-sharing agreements.

In response to these negotiations, the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) presented a last-minute counter proposal advocating for an exclusive coalition with the ANC and other leftist parties, challenging the inclusivity of the government of national unity.

Dr. Leon Schreiber has been appointed as South Africa’s new Home Affairs Minister, while Paul Mashatile will continue to serve as Deputy President, maintaining continuity within the executive leadership.

Despite widespread speculation on social media regarding the distribution of ministries among the coalition partners, official communication on the allocation of the 30 ministerial positions remains pending. The public and political analysts alike are closely watching these developments, anticipating further announcements and adjustments in the coming days.

Ramaphosa’s decision to integrate opposition leaders into his cabinet marks a significant departure from traditional governance norms in South Africa, signaling a renewed commitment to inclusivity and collaboration across party lines.

The appointment of John Steenhuisen as Agriculture Minister underscores a proactive approach to harnessing diverse expertise and perspectives in addressing the nation’s agricultural challenges and broader policy initiatives.

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