Ramaphosa considers cutting number of government departments in South Africa

The National Treasury has reportedly written several proposals to reduce the number of government departments in South Africa.

According to the Sunday Times, a secret meeting was held in Stellenbosch, where several key figures discussed these proposals.

These include President Cyril Ramaphosa, finance minister Enoch Godongwana, and several top officials from National Treasury and the Reserve Bank.

If accepted, these proposals would reportedly save the government about R17 billion in spending — but at the cost of lost jobs.

Examples of how the proposed cuts would work include:

  • Closing the Department of Sports, Arts, and Culture and incorporating its duties into the Department of Basic Education.
  • Closing the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and requiring departments to manage their own buildings and assets.
  • Merging the Department of Tourism with the Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition.
  • Closing the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities and turning it into a division in the Presidency or the Department of Social Development.
  • Closing the Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation and turning it into a division in the Presidency or the Department of Public Service and Administration.

Expectations are that other members of the ANC and the government would push back against a decision to cut the number of government departments.

Enoch Godongwana, Minister of Finance

South Africa’s bloated cabinet

While any move to cut the number of government departments would be met with resistance, it is clear that South Africa is wasting money on a bloated cabinet and each ministry’s linked government department.

An analysis by Daily Investor has shown that President Ramaphosa’s newest cabinet is larger than those of much bigger and wealthier countries — including the United States, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

In March 2023, Ramaphosa added two new ministers to his cabinet — the Minister for Electricity and the Minister for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation.

This took the total number to 30 ministries, which is significantly more than many of the world’s most dominant economies.

Examples include:

  • Germany — 15 ministers
  • Japan — 19 ministers
  • United Kingdom — 22 ministers
  • USA — 24 ministers

Leon Schreiber, the DA’s shadow minister for public service and administration, has argued that the bloated cabinet has cost taxpayers billions of rands.

He has also promoted the DA’s plan for the government, set out in its Vision 2019 document, which includes a cabinet of only 15 ministries.

According to Schreiber, this could save nearly R5 billion per year.

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Ramaphosa considers cutting number of government departments in South Africa