Cabinet Report Cards 2019:

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 2019 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, the spectre of rolling blackouts is back. 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...

David Mabuza

David Mabuza

Deputy President is a job that nobody wants unless they intend to use it as a springboard to pursue the top job. Presidents who think they’ve appointed a deputy who is content to support and hold the fort when needed and stay in their lane are soon disappointed....

Aaron Motsoaledi

Aaron Motsoaledi

Motsoaledi has inherited a department known for its ill-treatment and laissez-faire attitude towards the rights of immigrants. Chapter 9 institutions and non-governmental groups have had to continually fight the department to get it to better discharge its mandate. In...

Angie Motshekga

Angie Motshekga

Motshekga said in an interview with the Mail & Guardian last year that she believed the sector was ready to embrace someone with “fresh ideas”. She had already served two terms in the portfolio. But Motshekga was kept on for a third term in the sixth...

Ayanda Dlodlo

Ayanda Dlodlo

The state security department is supposed to keep the country safe from any threat, internal and external, but that ministry has been the political battleground — with factions in the ruling ANC using state resources to wage their war. A number of rogue elements have...

Barbara Creecy

Barbara Creecy

Creecy looks exhausted. By her own account, she hasn’t had much in the way of respite since becoming a minister seven months ago. Between ANC meetings, parliamentary work and running the ministry, she also went to Spain for international climate negotiations at COP25....

Bheki Cele

Bheki Cele

Cele was appointed police minister in February 2018 and his first term ended well with a string of high-profile arrests in cases dealing with political murders in KwaZulu-Natal. Coming on the back of progress in cleaning out the South African Police Service’s top...

Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande

Nzimande is one of the longest serving ministers (minus the 19 months he spent in the wilderness after being booted out of Cabinet by former president Jacob Zuma).  Besides his stint as transport minister, Nzimande has spent the majority of his time in government as...

Ebrahim Patel

Ebrahim Patel

Having been the minister of economic development for almost a decade, Patel is well acquainted with the economic difficulties facing the country. Since taking over from his predecessor, Rob Davies, as the political head of the department of trade and industry —...

Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula

As the year wound to an end Mbalula found himself the subject of derision. Again. Dressed in a black, Nigerian- styled agbada the minister of transport dutifully answered questions about aviation at an air show when, thrown a fluff question at the end, he proceeded to...

Gwede Mantashe

Gwede Mantashe

In the 2019 Cabinet yearbook, Mantashe will most definitely be voted the minister most likely to embarrass. Like Spud, the fictional character in John van de Ruit’s book of the same name, Mantashe’s tenure ever since he was first appointed a year ago has been...

Jackson Mthembu

Jackson Mthembu

As chief whip of the ANC in Parliament, and an ardent supporter of Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid for the party’s presidency, Mthembu was always going to be rewarded with a plum Cabinet position. As minister in the presidency, he is Ramaphosa’s eyes and ears in the...

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Khumbudzo Ntshavheni

Having been an entrepreneur herself, Ntshavheni might be best suited for her portfolio.  Many who have had interactions with this department have complained about red tape and inaccessibility to those it serves. Despite its promise, the department was not an ally for...

Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu

Any person going into this department needs a prayer. It is one of the biggest after the departments of human settlements and water and sanitation were merged this year.  The water and sanitation department has little to show after years of a crisis caused by former...

Lindiwe Zulu

Lindiwe Zulu

The new minister inherited a department plagued by ongoing social grants payment problems and an administration that has battled to secure clean audits since 2016. Zulu, the former small business minister, has been relatively anonymous during her seven months in her...

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

In June, what was once the department of women was renamed to include youth and people with disabilities in the portfolio. People have joked that this is the department for everyone except an able-bodied man. But this department works to build an inclusive society. ...

Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane

Mmamaloko Kubayi-Ngubane

The main objective of the tourism department is to promote South Africa as a travel destination for locals and foreign visitors. When President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation address in June this year, he set a target of doubling the number of...

Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor

Former president Thabo Mbeki, without question South Africa’s most internationally-oriented president, gave a speech about the state of South Africa’s foreign policy in November this year. He spoke to a high-profile audience of diplomats and policymakers, and he was...

Nathi Mthethwa

Nathi Mthethwa

Unlike his other Cabinet cohort Mr Razzmatazz (Fikile Mbalula, a former minister of sports and recreation), Mthethwa has a mild-mannered Twitter persona and sends tweets of congratulations and of sorrow, which has earned him the title of “minister of condolences”....

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

If Dlamini-Zuma had it her way, she would be president and not a Cabinet minister. A veteran in government since 1994, Dlamini-Zuma is respected as a capable technocrat who likes to get things done. As health minister from 1994 to 1999, she oversaw the overhaul of the...

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Despite a dwindling budget and the threat that this holds for the military’s ability to do its job, the South African National Defence Force is guilty of gross financial mismanagement for a second financial year in a row. In his 2018-2019 annual report, auditor...

Patricia De Lille

Patricia De Lille

The leader of the Good Party was asked to serve the country about 200 days ago. In one of her first speeches as a minister, De Lille said she would need to hit the ground sprinting, not just running.  Her department is charged with: the transformation of the...

Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan

Part of the charm of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan is his ability to be frank and honest about the perilous state of the government’s assets and businesses.  His assessments pull no punches about what needs to be done and what it will take to get things...

Ronald Lamola

Ronald Lamola

When President Cyril Ramaphosa restructured and reshuffled Cabinet in May, it was hoped that he would split justice and correctional services back into two ministries. Instead, he kept them together and handed the huge portfolio to South Africa’s youngest Cabinet...

Senzo Mchunu

Senzo Mchunu

The most pressing item on Mchunu’s agenda is the enormous public sector wage bill, particularly given the country’s ailing economy. The department is charged with helping other government departments to function better, by formulating and implementing systems that...

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams

Ndabeni-Abrahams is one of the youngest members of Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. With her tender age of 41 comes the exuberance many of her colleagues lack. As minister of communications she is responsible for the department of communications and digital technologies,...

Thoko Didiza

Thoko Didiza

Thoko Didiza is no stranger to Cabinet; she has served in four administrations. She served as minister of agriculture and land affairs from 1999 to 2006. This year she came back for round two as the political head responsible for the dysfunctional agriculture and land...

Thulas Nxesi

Thulas Nxesi

Nxesi, once the general secretary of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, was probably the best candidate to replace his predecessor. But he has big shoes to fill. Mildred Oliphant was in the position for almost a decade and, during her time there, she...

Tito Mboweni

Tito Mboweni

A year ago, Mboweni posted an image of a sieve on Twitter. Just an empty sieve and no accompanying text to provide context. Was he about to share a culinary secret, one which needed a sieve to drain a tin of one of his favourite ingredients, Lucky Star pilchards? A...

Zweli Mkhize

Zweli Mkhize

Mkhize has been health minister for about seven months. Shortly after he was appointed, he said his priority was to restore hope in the public health care system. He inherited a mixed bag: a system that has both improved the lives and life expectancy of South...