Helen Zille: ‘DA had absolutely no idea Ramaphosa was increasing Cabinet so substantially’

Helen Zille, chair of the Democratic Alliance’s federal council. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Chair of the Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council Helen Zille said it had no information on the massive increase in national executive posts and Cabinet, until President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address on Sunday night.

Ramaphosa was re-elected for a second term two weeks ago despite the ANC losingits outright majority.

The president unveiled his new Cabinet that consists of members of the DA, IFP, PA, PAC, FF+ and Good, all political parties who have signed on to be part of the government of national unity (GNU).

Ramaphosa announced an enlarged national executive of 75 people, with several government departments having two deputy ministers supporting a Cabinet minister.

In an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on Monday morning, Zille said the DA had no knowledge of Ramaphosa’s Cabinet configurations, until the president made the announcement in the televised address.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing his Cabinet on Sunday night. File Picture: GCIS

“I supposed everybody had to compromise a bit but we didn’t know that the president was going to increase the Cabinet so substantially and give the ANC so much than what was proportionally their due. We did not know about the size of the Cabinet.

“What we did know was which portfolios we were getting and which deputy ministers we were getting. That we did know, but for the rest we didn’t have any information,” she said.

Zille, however, added that the DA also knew that Cabinet portfolios like agriculture and land reform would be split.

She said from that information, one could not conclude that Cabinet was going to increase, because some departments could be contracted in a bid to manage the size of Cabinet.

The DA had been pushing for a leaner Cabinet in the run up to the May 29 general elections.

“We are accepting our six positions. Certainly, the expansion of Cabinet has nothing to do with the DA taking more positions than it is entitled to in terms of the proportionality clause. The expansion comes from many other parties getting a lot more than they were entitled to,” said Zille.

“Indeed, there is an increase in Cabinet and we had no idea of the extent to which that would occur. We now got six ministries which is less than our proportional due. So the DA is not contributing to the increased size of Cabinet. That is for sure. We will continue with our six portfolios to do our very best and to add as much value as we can and to show the DA difference in the work that we do.

“Obviously we would want a much smaller Cabinet, but in the context, we will do our very best. If the proportionality clause had been properly applied, we would have got six and the ANC would have got 12, and a few parties would have got some more so there could have been 18 Cabinet ministers in all,” she said.

On the other hand, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema has lambasted the broad Cabinet announced by Ramaphosa on Sunday night, calling it “bloated”.

EFF leader, Julius Malema. File Picture: Ayanda Ndamane /Independent Newspapers

“The EFF has noted the announcement by Cyril Ramaphosa of what is essentially an ANC-DA Cabinet, confirming our long-standing view that the government of national unity was nothing but a smokescreen for the ANC to secure a predetermined grand coalition with the racist DA,” said EFF national spokesperson, Leigh-Ann Mathys.

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