South Africa’s president announced a new cabinet Wednesday that for the first time in the country’s history will be made up of 50 percent women – and one of those women is from the opposition.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the makeup of his new Cabinet after his party, the African National Congress, held on to power in general elections earlier this month.
He cut the Cabinet from 36 ministers to 28 in a move to reduce the bloating under scandal-tainted predecessor Jacob Zuma, who stepped down last year under pressure amid corruption allegations.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, right, takes the Oath of Office at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. (Yeshiel Panchia/Pool Photo via AP)
"The people who I am appointing today must realize that the expectations of the South African people have never been greater and that they will shoulder a great responsibility," Ramaphosa said in a national address that stressed the need for an "ethical" government.
In his Cabinet, Ramaphosa includes younger leaders, notably former ANC Youth League deputy president Ronald Lamola as the minister of justice and correctional services and Njabuloa Nzuza as the deputy minister of home affairs.
One notable appointee was that of Patricia De Lille, a leader of the recently created opposition party GOOD, who will be public works and infrastructure minister.
Ramaphosa has vowed to crack down on the corruption that contributed to the ruling ANC’ s weakest election showing in a quarter-century. (AP Photo)
Ramaphosa has pledged to root out corruption in his government, but he did retain Deputy President David Mabuza, who has faced graft allegations but has denied any wrongdoing.
The appointment makes Mabuza second in command in South Africa’s government and the leading contender to succeed Ramaphosa as president.
The main opposition Democratic Alliance criticized the president for keeping Mabuza in what it called the first real test of Ramaphosa's tough stance on corruption.
"Unfortunately, Ramaphosa placed the internal factional interests of the ANC ahead of the interests of the people of South Africa," the DA said in a statement.
Creating jobs is another immense challenge in a country where unemployment is over 25%, and where a growing youth population that never knew the harsh racial system of apartheid that ended in 1994 is restless for a better future.