Bongani Bongo

Bongani Bongo

Before the days of Des van Rooyen and Mosebenzi Zwane, we would dwell on the fact that Bongani Bongo went from being an unnoticed MP to a top Cabinet post in one leap but that is no longer exceptional. Similarly, in the good old days, when the government still had a...

Aaron Motsoaledi

Aaron Motsoaledi

Aaron Motsoaledi is aware that the political consequences of firing him are greater than the repercussions of retaining him as health minister, some analysts argue. He made no secret that he did not approve of President Jacob Zuma’s leadership style this year. In May,...

Angie Motshekga

Angie Motshekga

What a way to end the year, Minister Angie Motshekga. The release of the Progress International Literacy Study (Pirls) is not a great Christmas present. You admitted in your speech that the results were disappointing. The Pirls report told us that 78% of pupils in...

Ayanda Dlodlo

Ayanda Dlodlo

One of the many casualties of President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet of musical chairs is Ayanda Dlodlo, who has been moved twice in just seven months.Dlodlo had the honour of being one of the longest-serving deputy ministers in Zuma’s executive as second in command in the...

Bathabile Dlamini

Bathabile Dlamini

She blamed everyone else. The media was causing panic, she said. Two of her top officials were out to get her, she said. The treasury was causing delays, she said. Parliament was distracting her from her job with its questions, she said. But the Constitutional Court...

Cyril Ramaphosa

Cyril Ramaphosa

Comrade new president, the cupcake who urges concomitant action, Cyril Ramaphosa. It’s difficult to determine what exactly Ramaphosa did as deputy president of South Africa this year, when everything he has done has been so coloured by his play for the presidency of...

David Mahlobo

David Mahlobo

Energy Minister David Mahlobo may only have been in office since October but the head of South Africa’s most shuffled ministry has made it clear that he intends to force through the multibillion-rand nuclear deal his predecessors have failed to achieve. The third...

Des van Rooyen

Des van Rooyen

Des van Rooyen has not been able to shed the dubious label of being President Jacob Zuma’s political lackey and one of the key players in state capture. “Weekend Special”, a nickname he was given after his controversial appointment as minister of finance in 2016,...

Ebrahim Patel

Ebrahim Patel

For a government department to exceed its targets by 32 points sounds like a bad joke. But if economic development, steered by the pedantic Ebrahim Patel, puts it in one of his slick PowerPoint presentations, you had best believe it is true. The department spent 98.6%...

Edna Molewa

Edna Molewa

It is not clear whether Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa buckled under pressure from her colleagues in other portfolios to grant permission for mining in environmentally sensitive areas or to fight rights groups in the courts over the contentious issue of...

Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi

Faith Muthambi should have been hauled before a court to answer treason charges after the leaked Gupta emails revealed she had shared confidential Cabinet documents with the politically connected Gupta family. Instead, the former communications minister was rewarded...

Gugile Nkwinti

Gugile Nkwinti

Although Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti claims to support the expropriation of land without compensation, cases that retard the quick handover of land seem to be increasing. This year, Nkwinti has been enveloped by scandals, among them...

Hlengiwe Mkhize

Hlengiwe Mkhize

The new higher education and training minister, Hlengiwe Mkhize, will have her hands full in January explaining how President Jacob Zuma’s grand plan of providing free higher education to the poor and working-class students is going to work. The Heher commission,...

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma

In 2016 President Jacob Zuma’s performance dropped to a level so low our grading system could no longer deal with it. He did such an astonishingly horrific job of running the country and showed such a total and utter disregard for his duties and obligations that there...

Jeff Radebe

Jeff Radebe

With only 13 years left until the National Development Plan’s (NDP’s) 2030 target, Jeff Radebe and his department are still planning, researching and appointing commissions, and implementation appears to be very slow. As usual, the internal performance of the...

Joe Maswanganyi

Joe Maswanganyi

In March this year, Joe Maswanganyi found himself moved overnight from being a backbencher in Parliament to being entrusted with the country’s network of road, rail and maritime infrastructure when he became transport minister in President Jacob Zuma’s midnight...

Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu

The establishment of the Human Settlements Development Bank must count as one of Lindiwe Sisulu’s major achievements this year. The bank is meant to fast track the transformation of the human settlements sector by providing equity finance, particularly to emerging...

Lindiwe Zulu

Lindiwe Zulu

Lindiwe Zulu is not shy to talk about radical socioeconomic transformation and how South Africa has no choice but for it to be implemented. She is fiery when she speaks about taking monopolies head on and “unlocking new markets” for small black-owned businesses. She...

Lynne Brown

Lynne Brown

Despite Lynne Brown’s department getting a clean audit, its performance has declined rapidly. According to the auditor general, three of the six state-owned enterprises that report to her — power utility Eskom, the state forestry company Safcol and airline SA Express...

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

This has been a wonderful year for South Africa’s foreign relations — at least according to the minister of international relations and co-operation. “The year 2017 will go down in history as one of the most successful in relation to South Africa’s foreign policy...

Malusi Gigaba

Malusi Gigaba

Despite major political achievements, such as finally getting rid of SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni, which neither of his predecessors managed to do, Malusi Gigaba’s credibility is still being questioned. He has been unable to shake off his past completely,...

Michael Masutha

Michael Masutha

No news is good news in this year of state capture and pre-elective congress politicking, and Justice Minister Michael Masutha has managed to put his head down and stay out of the news. He has deftly dodged the largest bullet — the spectacular failure by the National...

Mildred Oliphant

Mildred Oliphant

The adoption of a national minimum wage of R20 an hour by Parliament was the biggest feather in the cap of Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant for 2017, but her failure to address employment equality in the workplace successfully and the perception of her continued...

Mmamoloko Tryphosa Kubayi

Mmamoloko Tryphosa Kubayi

She is young and works hard but Mmamoloko Kubayi has already been involved in several scandals even though she has been the minister of the embattled department of communications for about two months. Kubayi has promised to continue where her predecessor left off....

Mosebenzi Zwane

Mosebenzi Zwane

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has had a tumultuous year; he’s been at war with the industry over regulatory policies, and policy uncertainty has aggravated the problems in a tough industry. The uncertainty is in part tied to planned amendments to the...

Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor is undeniably one of South Africa’s hardest-working Cabinet members. She travels the country and the world lobbying for her portfolio. She is the face of pan-African science and technology, and her impassioned and eloquent speeches make people at home...

Nathi Mthethwa

Nathi Mthethwa

When he submitted his department’s 2016-2017 annual report to the parliamentary portfolio committee in October, Nathi Mthethwa said his department had achieved 73% of its targets and had spent 97.4% of its budget. This should qualify any minister for an A approval...

Nathi Nhleko

Nathi Nhleko

They say South Africa works because of public works but whether public works will continue to work under Nathi Nhleko remains to be seen. A pawn in President Jacob Zuma’s never-ending Cabinet reshuffles, Nhleko was, surprisingly, rewarded with another position in the...

Nomvula Mokonyane

Nomvula Mokonyane

It has been a turbulent year for Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, whose department emerged as the worst offender for irregular expenditure and received a qualified report from auditor general Kimi Makwetu. He found that the department spent...

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

The defence minister achieved a slight improvement on her grade this year for one reason: she finally started talking about the monumental scale of the financial deficit that is eating away at South Africa’s ability to defend itself. If only she had a plan to match...

Rob Davies

Rob Davies

Almost everyone agrees that the minister of trade and industry is a nice guy. But it’s perhaps true that nice guys finish last. Rob Davies has failed to impress either his critics or his fans this year. With one of the better-run departments, a high level is expected...

Senzeni Zokwana

Senzeni Zokwana

What with global warming and the rest of it, the elements have not been kind to Senzeni Zokwana since he assumed the mantle as the minister of agriculture, fisheries and forestry. This year, it was a particularly vicious strain of bird flu that gave his opposition a...

Siyabonga Cwele

Siyabonga Cwele

Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele has often been criticised for behaving more like an absentee landlord than the head of a government department. But this year he has stepped up to provide strong stewardship, albeit for very unpopular...

Susan Shabangu

Susan Shabangu

It’s not often the department of women makes headlines but 2017 was a bumper year for Susan Shabangu’s office — for better or worse. In April, Karabo Mokoena became one of the hundreds of women in South Africa who die at the hands of their partners each year. Her...

Tokozile Xasa

Tokozile Xasa

Tokozile Xasa came into a department with a good administrative history and once again the results are favourable. Of the R1.02-billion allocated to it, 99.4% was spent. More than R700-million went to the development of sport in a bid to build an “active nation”. The...

​Thulas Nxesi

​Thulas Nxesi

There is a noose around Thulas Nxesi’s neck and that is Nkandla. Although he wasn’t minister of public works when the money was allocated for the ill-considered “upgrades”, it was Nxesi who was complicit in the cover-up, including marking his own task team report top...