Cabinet Report Cards 2020

Losers and Leaders

The M&G Cabinet report cards have become a respected barometer of government performance. Months in the making, these report cards are the most comprehensive snapshot of the performance of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. We tell you who is going places and who’s gotta go.

We examine all the ministers’ records for 2020 and grade them on their achievements or lack thereof.

Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

“South Africa is in a state of deep crisis. As the year comes to an end, rolling blackouts returned. Eskom is nowhere near looking like it may be turned around, and the wider systemic risks it represents — the energy crisis, the country’s debt, economic slow-down —...

David Mabuza

David Mabuza

A combination of health issues and a natural preference for avoiding the limelight saw Deputy President David Mabuza continuing to be one of the least visible members of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet, despite being the second in command in government. Mabuza,...

Aaron Motsoaledi

Aaron Motsoaledi

After Aaron Motsoaledi scored a D on his cabinet report card last year for his “xenophobic-lite” utterances stoking the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment, his spokesperson, David Hlabane, took swift offence, penning a letter to our editor. Motsoaledi, he said, had...

Angie Motshekga

Angie Motshekga

In a time of anxiety and uncertainty, Angie Motshekga failed to provide leadership. With news of schools reopening four months after the hard lockdown, more than 400 000 teachers, and about 13-million learners and their parents looked to Motshekga to offer decisive...

Ayanda Dlodlo

Ayanda Dlodlo

State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo’s 2020 began rather inauspiciously — and embarrassingly — with a burglary at the State Security Agency (SSA) headquarters in January, a stark reminder of the state of a ministry that had been gutted and factionalised during former...

Barbara Creecy

Barbara Creecy

Spending your life in an airplane is exhausting, Barbara Creecy said in a recent interview. But if there’s one positive aspect to the Covid-19 crisis, it’s that less travel has given her an opportunity to focus on her department. “It’s really enabled me to get into a...

Bheki Cele

Bheki Cele

A slight but continued improvement in  murder, sexual offences and armed robbery rates in the crime statistics, released for the, third quarter of 2020 in November is one of the few positive elements of Police Minister Bheki Cele’s year. Corruption in the policing of...

Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande

One thing Blade Nzimande has going for him is that he communicated clearly what needed to happen when it came to Covid-19 in the post-school sector. That said, the institutions had (mostly) already decided what they were doing. But he failed in many other areas....

Ebrahim Patel

Ebrahim Patel

It’s a daunting time to be Ebrahim Patel, who is in charge of revitalising South Africa’s fragile, Covid-19 battered economy and reigniting the country’s growth. Although the outlook is grim — gross domestic product is forecast to shrink by 8% this year — the messages...

Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula was one of the faces that appeared most on our television screens during lockdown. Never one to miss a photo-op, he could be seen inspecting roadblocks, patting police on the back and chastising motorists who failed to produce a permit — “impound and...

Gwede Mantashe

Gwede Mantashe

Under Gwede Mantashe this year, the minerals and energy department has been able to get some long-delayed projects off the ground, including the decade-long solar water heater programme and the gazetting of the procurement of more than 11 800MW of power from...

Jackson Mthembu

Jackson Mthembu

There are few ministers in the cabinet more amiable than Jackson Mthembu. Since his appointment, he has shown himself to be an approachable, helpful person. It is rare to see an attack on the character of the man, even from the opposition. That attitude is largely...

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Small businesses play a vital role,  employing at least 12-million people across different sectors. In ensuring that millions of livelihoods were to some degree protected during the Covid-19 pandemic, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni and her team engaged with various government...

Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu

South Africa has a water, sanitation and human settlements crisis. The department tasked with fixing this has been ground zero for so much corruption. Presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisiulu, with the blue blood of ANC royalty in her veins, could have used this as a...

Lindiwe Zulu

Lindiwe Zulu

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa, everyone was concerned about what would happen to the country’s most vulnerable people. This is where Lindiwe Zulu was meant to step in. She made big promises: people would be put into shelters; food parcels would be...

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Last year, when scoring Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s performance, we concluded that her department sounded like a good idea, but there was not much to show for it. These sentiments have not changed. What exactly is Nkoana-Mashabane’s job? If you listened to her budget...

Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane

Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane

With a target of 21-million international tourists by 2030, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane’s department was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and could not achieve the majority of its targets this year. With no travel allowed domestically or internationally for months,...

Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor

There is no doubt that 2020 was a challenging year to be a foreign minister. With the arrival of the pandemic, South Africa’s borders slammed shut, and all of the government’s energy went into managing the public health crisis at home. It was not supposed to be this...

Nathi Mthethwa

Nathi Mthethwa

Once Covid-19 hit our shores, Nathi Mthethwa decided to pack a room with the key stakeholders within his purview. Over two sessions, Mthethwa spoke to the media, sports federations and leaders in the arts field, ostensibly with the intention of “finding a way...

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

The R32-billion in irregular expenditure garnered by South Africa’s municipalities in the 2018-19 financial year was a significant blight on the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs. This irregular expenditure marked down the department’s...

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

The year has been an awful one for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), with the ongoing issues of overstretched budgets and mismanagement continuing. This year, the troops were roped in to fight the spread of Covid-19. The deployment was disastrous. An...

Patricia De Lille

Patricia De Lille

Corruption-busting Patricia De Lille’s tenure has been marred by accusations of nefarious activities this year. The former director general and other senior officials in the department of public works and infrastructure have accused the minister of taking on projects...

Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan

In a country defined by polarisation across racial, class and political lines, it is hard to find one politician who elicits stronger reactions than Pravin Gordhan. As the man who has served the country as the South African Revenue Service commissioner, the finance...

Ronald Lamola

Ronald Lamola

The string of high-profile fraud and corruption arrests has justified the department of justice and correctional services’ R688-million spend on the newly established integrated justice system programme. The department has been at the forefront of what seems to be a...

Senzo Mchunu

Senzo Mchunu

The public service is in crisis. Workers have had to deal with doing their jobs under the threat of Covid-19 and they have had to fight against long-standing promises to cut the public-sector wage bill. Organised labour has accused Senzo Mchunu of being an absentee...

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

It has been the proverbial annus horribilis for Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams — from breaking national regulations to not paying R213.3-million in workers’ mandated benefits. The year began with the news of Ndabeni-Abrahams...

Thoko Didiza

Thoko Didiza

Thoko Didiza’s main focus this year was releasing about 700 000 hectares of government land for lease after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this project during his State of the Nation address in February. Thousands of applicants have been received. The department...

Thulas Nxesi

Thulas Nxesi

If there were ever a time for the “employment” part of Thulas Nxesi’s job to come into play, it would be now. The expanded unemployment rate stands at 43.1% and further job losses seem likely. But 18 months after the mandate of “employment” was attached to his...

Tito Mboweni

Tito Mboweni

When Tito Mboweni was 21 years old in 1980, he undertook to fight the apartheid regime. He initially wanted to take up arms, but, as he told David Pilling in 2019 in an interview for the Financial Times, one old sage told him he wasn’t ready and “when all the fighting...

Zweli Mkhize

Zweli Mkhize

There is little else Zweli Mkhize has been able to deal with in the past year besides confront Covid-19. Only nine months into the post, Mkhize had to deal with a pandemic that has killed millions of people globally. South Africa did not seem prepared. He made a...