PIC report Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Government/ Flickr

Ramaphosa’s deafening silence on nepotism in his government

Three events this week have upped the pressure on president Cyril Ramaphosa to walk his talk.

PIC report Cyril Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Photo: Government/ Flickr

Last week, Ramaphosa took the trouble of stating officially that he supports appointing the best person for the job at hand to the civil service, arguing that the alternative holds back service delivery to the vulnerable.

The problem with politicians making definitive statements – and that is why so many avoid it like the plague – is that they are expected to turn those words into actions, something the South African head of state found out this week, if he did not know it before.

Three events that put the spotlight on nepotism

Although his comments were taken as a criticism of race as a prerequisite for appointment and of the long-standing ANC policy of cadre deployment, three events this week have upped the pressure on Ramaphosa to walk his talk.

1. Deputy minister Bogopane-Zulu’s lobola ‘subsidy’

The first was an expose in Sunday newspaper City Press on how deputy minister of social development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu assisted an employee (who wanted to marry the deputy minister’s niece) to raise lobola by taking him on official trips so he could pocket the S&T allowance.

2. Health minister’s niece now chief of staff

A day later, information surfaced that a member of Ramaphosa’s executive, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, had appointed a niece of his as his chief of staff. Like Bogopane-Zulu, the health minister has shown no remorse or even acknowledged wrongdoing.

3. PSC diector-general appoints mother of his child

And on Tuesday, information surfaced that the director-general of the Public Service Commission (PSC),  Dovhani Colbert Mamphiswana, allegedly was party to appointing the mother of his child to — of all positions — the chief director of ethics at the commission.

DA MP Dr Leon Schreiber has now asked PSC chairperson Advocate Richard Sizani to launch an urgent investigation into the veracity of the claims, and to make an example of Mamphiswana if they hold up.

Keeping mum on nepotism allegations

With a new government nepotism scandal literally every day of this week, the silence from the Presidency, and thus its inability to turn words into action, has been jarring.

Efforts to contact presidential spokesperson Khusela Sangoni have gone unanswered and the president has not added action on, or reaction to, these strong indications of the nepotism he warns against to such exacting duties as presiding over the presentation of credentials by heads of foreign missions.

He does have an ace up his sleeve as far as Bogopane-Zulu and Mkhize are concerned though, namely a cabinet reshuffle rumoured to be imminent.

But if Ramaphosa wants to be taken on his word as far as nepotism and a host of other issues are concerned, he might be well advised to walk the talk and act harshly against those making a laughing stock of his earnest undertakings.