South Africa reshuffles cabinet, names new mineral resources minister

South Africa reshuffles cabinet, names new mineral resources minister

Susan Shabangu, highly criticized for her handling of a strike in the platinum sector, was booted out.

South African President Jacob Zuma appointed Sunday Ngoako Ramatlhodi, a former Deputy Minister in the prison service, as the new mineral resources minister, as he unveiled his new cabinet a day after beginning his second five-year term in office.

Ramatlhodi is replacing Susan Shabangu, who has been criticised for her handling of a strike in the platinum mines now in its fifth month. Police minister Nathi Mthethwa, who was in office during the killing of 34 striking miners at Lonmin’s Marikana mine in 2012, was also booted out.

The ongoing industrial action is South Africa’s platinum belt is the longest and costliest in the industry’s history, and has caused global production to decline by about 40% so far.

While there have been a few attempts to solve the dispute, workers insist on seeing their pay doubled, and mining companies refuse to do so as they claim not to be able to afford the miners' demands.

The most commented cabinet nominations, however, were those in the Finance and Public Enterprises ministries. Junior minister Nhlanhla Nene became the country's first black finance officer, in what is considered a statement of intent from Zuma, who has vowed to bring radical social and economic transformation in this second term at the country’s helm.

Zuma also appointed the country's first openly gay cabinet minister, Lynne Brown, as the public enterprises minister. According to The Guardian, the move is thought to be a first in Africa, as well as a symbolic step on a continent enduring a homophobic backlash.

Image by Africacom via YouTube.