Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma

You have to hand it to President Jacob Zuma; he has a talent for finding new lows to achieve. This time last year, as we were preparing to publish these report cards, he fired his well-performing finance minister (we graded Nhlanhla Nene at A- after a 2014 B),...

Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was the most closely watched politician in South Africa in 2016 — a year that will go down in history as one of the worst for the ANC government and ruling party, with most of the disaster caused by his political boss. Ramaphosa could...

Pravin Gordhan

Pravin Gordhan

Whether Pravin Gordhan likes it or not, he has become a symbol of the fight against the dark forces of corruption as he maintains his tight grip on the public purse and wards off an incredible amount of pressure from rent seekers. Little more than a year ago, a...

Jeff Radebe

Jeff Radebe

The department under Jeff Radebe’s leadership has upheld its record of internal efficiency, receiving a clean audit for 2015-2016 for a third consecutive year. The department was lauded by the auditor general for decreasing irregular expenditure to R200 000 and...

Blade Nzimande

Blade Nzimande

There will certainly be no festive cheer for beleaguered Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. As he nervously tucks into his Christmas turkey, his mind will be on tens of thousands of students and their demands for free, decolonised education. The rabble-rousing...

Ngoako Ramatlhodi

Ngoako Ramatlhodi

Ngoako Ramatlhodi has kept a low profile during his 15 months at the helm of the public service and administration ministry. Since he took over the driver’s seat of a department that is regarded as the engine of government, he has focused mainly on public service...

Bathabile Dlamini

Bathabile Dlamini

No one will forget Bathabile Dlamini’s year: weeping in Port Elizabeth during the ANC’s election campaign; her very public near assault on Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in defence of President Jacob Zuma at the election results centre in August; and her...

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula did not cover herself in glory in 2016. She was defiantly unapologetic about revelations that she had smuggled a Burundian into the country, which gave every appearance of having been a flagrant breaking of the law. As disconcerting as that...

Mildred Oliphant

Mildred Oliphant

After talking tough about companies that failed to meet employment equity targets in April, Mildred Oliphant ends the year without taking any corrective action. On the other hand the proposed national minimum wage is on the brink of being legislated. Eight months ago,...

Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi

The past year has only served to reinforce what little faith there is in Faith Muthambi. Top of the pile of failures has been her inability or lack of desire to intervene in the ongoing scandals that have engulfed the national broadcaster. As the public broadcaster’s...

Nomvula Mokonyane

Nomvula Mokonyane

South Africa is reeling after two years of drought. A third dry season is underway. Disaster has been slightly abated by an excellent bulk water system that stores water in times of plenty. Water is being released for consumption in big cities. But under Mokonyane,...

Aaron Motsoaledi

Aaron Motsoaledi

“Brace yourselves for massive legislative and structural alterations to both the private and public healthcare systems in order to prepare for National Health Insurance (NHI),” Aaron Motsoaledi warned in his budget vote speech this year. But several health activists...

Senzeni Zokwana

Senzeni Zokwana

Undoubtedly, Senzeni Zokwana’s stewardship of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries department will be judged largely on how he has handled South Africa’s worst drought in several decades. Kicking off the 2016 calendar year, Zokwana went on record as saying that the...

Susan Shabangu

Susan Shabangu

The mystery behind what exactly the responsibilities of the department of women in the presidency are remains unsolved. Earlier this year, the Mail & Guardian took to the streets of Johannesburg to ask ordinary people if they knew who Susan Shabangu, the department’s...

Rob Davies

Rob Davies

Rob Davies’s sprawling portfolio covers everything from black economic empowerment to trade and investment and consumer protection. To his credit, the overall performance of his portfolio has improved in the past three years. Six out of 10 entities reporting to Davies...

Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor

One of the longest-serving and most versatile ministers in President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet put in another stellar performance this year, following up on the clean audit achieved in the 2014-2015 financial year by the department and all its entities. Some might argue...

Dipuo Peters

Dipuo Peters

Dipuo Peters continues to plod, with what seems like a heavy heart if not feet, through a challenging portfolio. Although the task at hand is challenging, with many deficiencies being beyond her control, such as decades of poor investment in infrastructure, Peters...

Nathi Nhleko

Nathi Nhleko

Nathi Nhleko had an annus horribilis. This year public order police officials emerged as “the enemy” from the #FeesMustFall campaign. In possibly the most damaging incident, Father Graham Pugin, from the Holy Trinity Catholic Church next to the University of the...

Angie Motshekga

Angie Motshekga

Minister Angie Motshekga, thanks to your pro-poor policies such as no-fee schools and the nutrition programme, you have managed to keep almost 100% of children of compulsory school-going age in school. About nine million hungry pupils in 21 191 schools were able to...

Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu has run a steady ship since being deployed to this challenging portfolio two years ago. During this relatively short period, Sisulu has cut irregular expenditure in the department from a whopping R132‑million in 2013-2014 to R22‑million in the 2015-2016...

Michael Masutha

Michael Masutha

The wheels of justice turn slowly. Judicial officials are benefiting from being trained in managing sexual offences, immigration and maintenance. The roll-out of special facilities for sexual assault victims has been a priority and the department achieved a target of...

Mosebenzi Zwane

Mosebenzi Zwane

A leopard doesn’t change its spots — just like Mosebenzi Zwane didn’t change his allegiance once appointed the guardian of R50‑trillion worth of mineral wealth. For years rumours have simmered about Zwane being tight with the Gupta family. A while back, he was said to...

Thulas Nxesi

Thulas Nxesi

There was a general expectation that Thulas Nxesi would be axed as minister of public works in the wake of the Nkandla saga. In a scathing judgment in the Constitutional Court in March, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng ordered that Nxesi and Police Minister Nathi Nhleko...

Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba scores high for his handling of the proposed visit of homophobic American preacher Steven Anderson earlier this year. Announcing the decision to bar Anderson from South Africa, Gigaba pointed out that “it is a constitutional imperative for organs of...

Lindiwe Zulu

Lindiwe Zulu

The public could be excused for thinking that Lindiwe Zulu spends her time stalking the aisles of the National Assembly, swatting away any presidential detractors. Her fiery ripostes to any would-be verbal assassins of President Jacob Zuma, her body strained over her...

Des van Rooyen

Des van Rooyen

It was always going to be very difficult for Des van Rooyen to earn public confidence following his controversial and brief stint as finance minister in December last year. But what has worsened his situation is the role he played in trying to stop the release of...

David Mahlobo

David Mahlobo

The illegal outflow of cash from South Africa amounts to about R80-billion a year, so one would expect the State Security Agency (SSA) to have a firm grip on how it is done. And that would include the money being moved by those friends of President Jacob Zuma, the...

Siyabonga Cwele

Siyabonga Cwele

Emerging from a state of utter paralysis, the department of telecommunications and postal services this year made good on some things under the leadership of Siyabonga Cwele. A number of key positions have finally been filled — including that of director general, who...

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane remains one of President Jacob Zuma’s “untouchable” ministers, a close ally who is assured of her position in the event of any reshuffle. In social media parlance, she is Zuma’s “day one, to the moon and back” and holds the same position as when...

Tina Joemat-Pettersson

Tina Joemat-Pettersson

There’s a nuclear deal to be signed and those still fussing about it will have to change their game plan if they wish to influence the outcome as South Africa goes shopping for an initial 9.6 gigawatts. The tough-talking minister runs a portfolio that has consumed...

Ebrahim Patel

Ebrahim Patel

Ebrahim Patel’s performance is both transparent and murky. The department of economic development consistently achieves unqualified audits, delivered on all 164 of its identified targets last year and spent 99.8% of its budget. Patel runs a tight ship and ticks many...

Gugile Nkwinti

Gugile Nkwinti

“We just have to be very blunt on this one: we will not tolerate anything that denies people the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives.” This is how Gugile Nkwinti was quoted after the news surfaced that he had in his possession title deeds for farms worth...

Lynne Brown

Lynne Brown

Remember the public spat Lynne Brown had with the combative chairperson of SAA, Dudu Myeni? It earned her kudos as a no-nonsense minister seemingly set on doing things correctly. So what happened? Everything that could possibly have gone wrong in her portfolio did, as...

Nathi Mthethwa

Nathi Mthethwa

Nathi Mthethwa’s appointment as arts and culture minister in 2014 was seen as throwing him a lifeline after he, as police minister, had presided over the Marikana tragedy, which saw 34 striking miners dead and nearly 80 injured. But two years into the job, there’s...

Edna Molewa

Edna Molewa

Ministers have two main jobs — to create space in their department for talented individuals to do their work, and to keep their own politics from spilling over into that department. Edna Molewa manages to tick both boxes. Environment affairs is, by budget, one of the...

Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula

Fikile Mbalula played his toughest hand this year when he followed through on threats to punish federations whose rate of transformation was deemed too slow. In April, cricket, rugby, athletics and netball were banned from bidding for or hosting major international...

Derek Hanekom

Derek Hanekom

Whether it’s taking the president to task, fighting against censorship at the SABC or slapping down controversial businessman and political tinkerer Kenny Kunene for his misdirected “white farmer” invective, Derek Hanekom was the man. With 0.13% of the national budget...