South Africa

South Africa has more ministers than the US, Germany, and Japan

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet has more ministers than the world’s largest and wealthiest countries, including the United States, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

On Monday, Ramaphosa announced a cabinet reshuffle and surprised many people by announcing two new ministries.

  • The minister for electricity to deal with the immediate crisis of load-shedding.
  • The minister for planning, monitoring and evaluation to focus greater attention on the performance of government.

It increases Ramaphosa’s new cabinet to thirty ministries which makes it one of the largest in the world.

The president said the increase in the number of ministries is a temporary measure and that they are working on rationalising government departments to ensure greater efficiency.

“This work, which will result in the reduction of the number of ministries, will inform the configuration of government going into the next administration,” he said.

Many people criticized South Africa’s bloated cabinet, arguing that it is a waste of money and does not add value to the country.

There are many reasons for South Africa’s bloated cabinet, which include that ministerial positions are used as a reward for political loyalty.

The government is also not incentivised to be efficient. The president often employs a new minister in the hope they would do the work another minister neglects.

The South African constitution does not specify a maximum number of ministers, which empowers the president to employ as many cabinet members as they like.

A cabinet with 15 ministries suggested

Leon Schreiber, the DA’s shadow minister for public service and administration, exposed that the cabinet is costing taxpayers billions.

He said ministers and deputy ministers employed 624 personal staff members, costing taxpayers R1.9 billion since Ramaphosa took office in February 2018.

He added that ministers and deputy ministers live in 97 state-owned mansions in Pretoria and Cape Town worth nearly R1 billion.

The DA’s plan for the government, set out in its Vision 2029 document, proposed a cabinet of only 15 ministries.

It explained that reconfiguring the executive and realigning some of the associated national departments could save an estimated R4.7 billion per year.

The DA’s plan to only have 15 ministries is in line with many developed economies like Germany and Japan.

Germany has a chancellor, a vice-chancellor, and 15 ministers. Japan has a prime minister and 19 ministers.

These economies are far larger and more complex than South Africa, showing that a lean cabinet can produce great results.

The chart below shows South Africa’s new cabinet size compared to many of the world’s top economies.


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