South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday named his party’s deputy president, Paul Mashatile, as the country’s new deputy president, following a long-awaited government reshuffle and in the midst of a serious energy crisis.

“I have decided to appoint Paul Mashatile deputy president of the Republic,” said the South African leader in a televised speech, broadcast live two hours later than initially planned.

Thus, Ramaphosa followed the tradition of his political party, the African National Congress (ANC), which dictates that the two top positions in the Executive be held by the two top leaders of that organization, although the president can appoint any member of the National Assembly (Parliament) as his deputy president.

The former Deputy President of South Africa, David Mabuza, announced his resignation on February 4 to make way for Mashatile.

Ramaphosa also indicated today that the former mayor of the metropolitan municipality of Tshwane, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, will head the newly created Ministry of Electricity, in charge of dealing with a serious energy crisis in the country, where power cuts are constant.

“To effectively oversee the response to the electricity crisis, the appointed minister will have political responsibility, authority and control over all critical aspects of our energy action plan,” the South African president said.

“The minister will facilitate the coordination of the many departments and entities involved in the crisis response, work with the leadership of Eskom (the state-owned energy company) to improve the performance of existing power plants and accelerate new generation capacity,” he added.

The president already announced this ministerial position on February 9, when he declared a “state of national disaster” to resolve the electricity crisis in his State of the Nation address to a joint session of Parliament.

Former ANC second deputy secretary general and national MP, Maropene Ramokgopa, will lead another new ministry “with specific responsibility for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the government,” Ramaphosa said.

“I expect them to perform their duties with rigor and dedication, to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to corruption wherever it exists, and to prioritize the interests of the people of South Africa,” said the president, who assured that this reshuffle will serve to create a more efficient government.

A former union leader and one of the richest black South Africans, Ramaphosa succeeded Jacob Zuma as President in 2018, pledging to tackle the corruption and economic malaise unleashed during his predecessor’s nine years in office.

However, his government has been marked by an alleged corruption case that made his resignation appear imminent last December.

Ramaphosa himself has acknowledged that his party is failing to solve some of the problems of concern to South Africans, such as persistent social inequalities, power outages and crime, among others.


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