Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma

For several years now we’ve been trying to come up with a reason – any reason – to upgrade President Jacob Zuma from the solid F he has rated since 2012. Even an unearned E might serve as motivation. But again the most flattering thing we can say about Zuma is this:...

President
Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

It’s hard to tell whether the general disappointment in Cyril Ramaphosa is to be blamed on the unreasonableness of high expectations or failure by the man himself. In his first 18 months in the presidency, the former businessman has been called in as a Mr Fix-it for...

Deputy President
Jeff Radebe

Jeff Radebe

Jeff Radebe has too many irons in the fire. One would be forgiven for thinking this long-serving minister has assumed the role of government spokesperson. Hardly an important government event goes by without Radebe delivering a speech. But most of the events he speaks...

Minister in the Presidency (Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation)
Senzeni Zokwana

Senzeni Zokwana

Senzeni Zokwana presides over a shrinking department whose budget is likely to be reduced because of its failure to spend almost R79‑million of this financial year’s allocated funds. In addition to this, the department failed to fill vacancies, increasing its vacancy...

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
Nathi Mthethwa

Nathi Mthethwa

We’re not going to give Nathi Mthethwa an Oscar for his performance in the arts and culture portfolio, but he did better this year than he did in 2014 – and he’s doing far less damage in this job than he did as minister of police. There’s still a long way to go,...

Minister of Arts and Culture
Angie Motshekga

Angie Motshekga

The matric exams were going smoothly, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told the country at the end of October and flew away on wings of denial to Paris for two weeks to attend Unesco’s 38th General Conference. But the only smooth thing was the operator in her...

Minister of Basic Education
Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi

Never has a Cabinet minister struggled for positive recognition from her own party as much as Faith Muthambi has. What makes her situation worse is that she is a communications minister who doesn’t communicate much, unless she gets an easy public relations interview...

Minister of Communications
Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan

Circumstances around Des van Rooyen’s appointment as minister may have come as a shock, but he is not unfamiliar with local government, a second portfolio he’s heading since his appointment to Cabinet a few weeks ago. A former Merafong local municipality mayor, as...

Minister of Co-Operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Former)
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

We’re not saying Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has an easy job. Rebuilding a crippled national defence force will take time. In 2013, her first year in this portfolio, we had high hopes that she could at least make a start of that project. She has proven us hopelessly...

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans
Ebrahim Patel

Ebrahim Patel

The department of economic development is an apt reflection of the meticulous minister behind it. Under Minister Ebrahim Patel, the department has exceeded the targets it has set for itself in the past financial year and spent almost all of its budget, and the auditor...

Minister of Economic Development
Tina Joemat-Pettersson

Tina Joemat-Pettersson

When the auditor general reported to the energy portfolio committee in Parliament earlier this year, one recurring theme was audit problems in Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s ministry. The auditor general had obviously tried to discuss these with the minister: a PowerPoint...

Minister of Energy
Edna Molewa

Edna Molewa

Edna Molewa is one of the longest-running ministers, keeping her position amid the constant Cabinet reshuffles. This is in part indicative of how good she is at her job, and of how little political capital is vested in environmental affairs. Looking increasingly tired...

Minister of Environmental Affairs
Des van Rooyen

Des van Rooyen

What can one say about a minister who spent only four days in the portfolio?

Minister of Finance (Former)
Aaron Motsoaledi

Aaron Motsoaledi

What has happened to Aaron Motsoaledi? Within months of becoming health minister in 2009, he gained a reputation among credible players in the health field of being a doer rather than a talker. Unlike his predecessors, he actively sought engagement and debate with...

Minister of Health
Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande

Excellent on ideas and policy development and also knowledgeable about the myriad problems in post-school education, but dysfunctional on implementation. That’s Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande for you. Like most academics in the country’s...

Minister of Higher Education and Training
Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba

Popularity among his comrades could not make this a better year for Malusi Gigaba. Things just didn’t go too well on the home affairs front, although in party matters he managed to deliver an ANC Youth League conference that yielded a new leadership. The year started...

Minister of Home Affairs
Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu

For someone who has served in this portfolio previously, Lindiwe Sisulu is familiar with the ins and outs of providing homes for South Africans. She also understands the problems that accompany the demands for free housing, but continues to ­commit confidently to...

Minister of Human Settlements
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

The one thing Maite Nkoana-Mashabane would probably be happy not to hear for some time is any mention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and calls for South Africa to withdraw from it. Though the minister mostly stayed clear of being dragged into the...

Minister of International Relations and Co-operation
Michael Masutha

Michael Masutha

Mike Masutha has one of the tougher jobs in the Cabinet. For reasons known only to the president – and we’re using the concept of “reason” loosely here – he is minister of two separate departments that have nothing in common.Dispensing justice is different from...

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
Mildred Oliphant

Mildred Oliphant

She decided to keep her adviser, Herbert Mkhize, in his position despite an audit report finding him guilty of mismanaging the government-funded National Economic and Development Labour Council (Nedlac) by more than R1-million in unauthorised expenses. Oliphant has...

Minister of Labour
Mosebenzi Zwane

Mosebenzi Zwane

The appointment of Mosebenzi Zwane as the new mineral resources minister in September was met with dismay by a battered mining industry severely afflicted by a sharp downturn in commodity prices and a flood of job losses. Critics referred to Zwane as “a mediocre MEC”...

Minister of Mineral Resources
Nathi Nhleko

Nathi Nhleko

The R80-billion-a-year police portfolio remained a hotbed of political meddling in 2015. Scandals and factional battles provided a constant source of media fodder, and Nhleko made dubious decisions throughout the year. He did not have the constitutional authority to...

Minister of Police
Lynne Brown

Lynne Brown

The state-owned enterprises in Lynne Brown’s portfolio – among them Eskom, Transnet and Denel – are supposed to drive the government’s economic programme. The minister has overall responsibility for them as the state’s nominated shareholder, but by law she does not...

Minister of Public Enterprises
Ngoako Ramatlhodi

Ngoako Ramatlhodi

Is Ngoako Ramatlhodi the man who will finally approve the revised ministerial handbook and give South Africa access to the spending guidelines? For more than five years now his predecessors have been promising to finalise the review of this handbook, which provides...

Minister of Public Service and Administration
Thulas Nxesi

Thulas Nxesi

Sitting in an immaculate office in Parliament, Thulas Nxesi is said to explain his plush decor mischievously: “I am the landlord.” Public works, he brags, holds a portfolio seven times the size of the country’s biggest private property company. The department owns...

Minister of Public Works
Gugile Nkwinti

Gugile Nkwinti

Gugile Nkwinti’s department was characterised by large-scale policy confusion last year and extreme political pressure this year. This pressure has reached a tipping point and the policies – or, at least, the motives underpinning the policy positions – have become...

Minister of Rural development and Land Reform
Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor

Science and technology minister Naledi Pandor is a golden child in the Cabinet class of 2015. In the Mail & Guardian, we write about South African science a lot, and it is not possible to write about science without mentioning the department of science and technology...

Minister of Science and Technology
Lindiwe Zulu

Lindiwe Zulu

Even her critics use phrases like “passionate” and “on the side of the people” to describe the minister of small business development, Lindiwe Zulu. This has not stopped a distinct air of disillusionment from developing towards her department. More than a year after...

Minister of Small Business Development
Bathabile Dlamini

Bathabile Dlamini

Social development is one of the few portfolios whose budgets were increased this year, despite the country’s economic challenges. A 7.9% increase saw Bathabile Dlamini’s department receiving a whopping R155.3-billion for the 2015-2016 financial year, most of which...

Minister of Social Development
David Mahlobo

David Mahlobo

David Mahlobo’s main job is to look after Number One. This is the historical role of intelligence: to guard the king against his palace enemies. The notion that the minister is here to protect us all has fallen further into disrepute under Mahlobo. His year started...

Minister of State Security
Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula

When sport is shrivelling around the edges at public schools and many federations are run by cabals and self-serving elites, our esteemed minister prefers to invest his time in glamour functions and bling. Instead of bankrolling show-stoppers such as the deeply...

Minister of Sport and Recreation
Siyabonga Cwele

Siyabonga Cwele

The former state security minister has presided over utter disarray at the department of telecommunications and postal services this year. The root of the continued problems is that there is no leadership — quite literally. Three deputy directors general have left...

Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services
Derek Hanekom

Derek Hanekom

This year wasn’t an easy ride for Derek Hanekom, who was moved from his science portfolio last year to head up the department of tourism. But it was just as well that he was in this portfolio when the home affairs department continued to press ahead with controversial...

Minister of Tourism
Rob Davies

Rob Davies

Rob Davies is a veteran in his portfolio and is deemed to have a deep understanding and knowledge of the issues facing his team and the institutions that fall under him. Across a range of metrics measured by the auditor general, Davies’s portfolio is consistently...

Minister of Trade and Industry
Dipuo Peters

Dipuo Peters

This year marks the first time since democracy that a transport minister has served a second term, yet challenges in the department have only deepened in recent months. Dipuo Peters appears to be tinkering at the fringes, instead of tackling the real issues head-on....

Minister of Transport
Nomvula Mokonyane

Nomvula Mokonyane

Appointed last year, Nomvula Mokonyane had the unenviable task of fixing a department that has been in crisis for years. Her first job came with a stiff broom and a cohort of trusted lieutenants from her days as premier of Gauteng. Margaret-Ann Diedricks moved into...

Minister of Water and Sanitation
Susan Shabangu

Susan Shabangu

The country held its breath as the department of women tabled its five-year strategic plan earlier this year. At last the greatest mystery of our age would have a denouement, and we would learn what exactly Susan Shabangu is supposed to be doing. The answer was...

Minister of Women in the Presidency
Nhlanhla Nene

Nhlanhla Nene

Nene was going to get a B-. This was chiefly because, before he was axed, questions remained about how he was going to deal with the financial decay at SAA, overseen by board chairperson Dudu Myeni. But in the end he refused to let Myeni reconfigure a deal at the...

Minister of Finance (Former)