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GNU Coalition Drama: DA Reveals Negotiated Cabinet Positions Amid Trade and Industry Ministry Dispute

In a recent turn of events, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen outlined the party’s revised stance on cabinet positions in the GNU coalition government, sparking a contentious debate over the Trade and Industry portfolio.

The political landscape in South Africa is witnessing intense negotiations and strategic maneuvering as the Democratic Alliance (DA) lays out its stance on cabinet positions within the GNU coalition government. This comes after a public uproar over a leaked letter from DA Federal Council Chairperson Helen Zille, which detailed the party’s initial demands.

In a direct communication to President Cyril Ramaphosa, DA leader John Steenhuisen announced that the party has been offered six cabinet portfolios: Home Affairs; Basic Education; Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC); Public Works and Infrastructure; Communications and Digital Technologies; and Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. Additionally, the DA is set to receive deputy ministerial positions in Finance (with full cabinet committee rights), Energy and Electricity, Small Business Development, and one other yet to be determined.

Richard Newton of the DA, along with multiple sources, confirmed the authenticity of the letter to IOL, solidifying the party’s stance.

Steenhuisen expressed cautious satisfaction with the offer, acknowledging the quality of the portfolios but voicing concerns over the proportional allocation. “In terms of the quality of the portfolios listed above – both in Cabinet and in terms of Deputy Ministries – the DA is satisfied and regards these as a serious offer,” he stated. However, he noted internal concerns about the quantity of portfolios relative to their proportional share.

Steenhuisen highlighted, “On a purely proportional basis, out of a Cabinet of 30, the DA’s share of support within the GNU translates to nine positions rather than the six that are currently on the table.”

Disagreements, particularly regarding the DTIC portfolio, have reportedly caused delays in the finalization of talks. Some ANC insiders are resistant to allocating this ministry to the DA, with speculations about Ebrahim Rasool being earmarked for the position to facilitate a lucrative National Lottery deal for HCI (Hoskins Consolidated Investments). IOL reached out to HCI for a comment but has yet to receive a response.

Adding complexity to the negotiations, sources claim Ramaphosa is under pressure from an undisclosed foreign agency threatening to release a sensitive report related to the Phala Phala scandal if he does not meet most of the DA’s demands. The DA had previously called for an FBI investigation into the legality of the US dollars found at Phala Phala.

In a bid to showcase flexibility, Steenhuisen proposed additional options for DA representation, suggesting, “In addition to the six existing Cabinet portfolios which we accept, another two portfolios will be allocated to the DA out of the options of Sports, Arts and Culture, Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform or Public Service and Administration.”

Steenhuisen further suggested moving public sector wage negotiations from Public Service and Administration to the Minister of Finance if necessary. This strategic positioning hints at broader ambitions, including potential plans for Steenhuisen to secure the Ministry in the Presidency and possibly elevate Zille to the Deputy Presidency, contingent upon the legal challenges facing current Deputy President Paul Mashatile.

As these high-stakes negotiations continue, the final composition of the proposed coalition government remains uncertain. This evolving story promises further updates and responses from key players, including HCI, as discussions progress.

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