Why Ramokgopa stepped in for Godongwana instead of his deputy

The reason is because of legislative powers, explains Prof Dirk Kotze

Minister of electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, left, is acting for minister of finance Enoch Godongwana, who is on leave. File photo.
Minister of electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, left, is acting for minister of finance Enoch Godongwana, who is on leave. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

The appointment of the minister in the Presidency for electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, as the acting finance minister while Enoch Godongwana is on leave has sparked a debate on social media.

The National Treasury confirmed this week that Ramokgopa would be acting finance minister from November 13-22.

Many have questioned why deputy minister David Masondo was not appointed temporarily.

However, the appointment of another minister to act in a different portfolio is apparently normal in South Africa.

Two years ago, when President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended health minister Zweli Mkhize he appointed then human settlement minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane instead of Joe Phaahla, who was its deputy minister.

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Unisa political analyst Prof Dirk Kotze said the appointment of ministers over deputy minister was because of legislative powers, and there was a difference between a minister and a deputy minister.

“The cabinet consists of the president, deputy president and ministers. The deputy ministers are not part of the cabinet, though they sometimes get invited to meetings. This is one of the reasons the presidents takes a minister to act than the deputy,” Kotze said 

“The constitution requires that something must be done by a minister. If a deputy minister is appointed and they have to deal with issues of legislative or constitutional nature, then it will be problematic. The reason is because of legislative powers.”

THE Constitution of South Africa.
THE Constitution of South Africa.
Image: Screenshot

Kotze said the appointment was a convention of the South African government and has been practised since former president Nelson Mandela’s administration. 

“For deputy ministers to be appointed as a minister means that it is a promotion. In terms of SA government development, it is not possible to move between the two ranks without a permanent term of five years. It always happens that it is another minister who acts on behalf of the minister and not the deputies. It is an established principle that has developed over time.” 

Though deputy ministers do not hold much legislative powers, Kotze said they had their own responsibilities to fulfil in the ministries.

The debate continues on social media: 


Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.