Ramaphosa fires Ministers Tito Mboweni and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Former SA speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise has replaced SA Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as South Africa’s defence minister in yesterday’s cabinet reshuffle.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move on Thursday night, which saw a shakeup of the security cluster and did not Appoint Mapisa-Nqakula to a new position.

Ramaphosa also announced the departure of finance Minister Tito Mboweni, whom he said had requested to leave his position to focus on his private businesses.

Modise brings defence experience to the portfolio, having been a member of uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) and chairing two parliamentary committees on defence.

Outgoing Mapisa-Nqakula landed in hot water recently when she contradicted Ramaphosa in saying the violent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal was not an insurrection but a counter-revolution.

She later did an about-turn and concurred with the President. Her image was also tarnished by her trip to Zimbabwe last year when she gave ANC members a ‘lift’.

“We thank her for service to the nation and dedication to her responsibilities,” the President said.

She served as defence minister since 2012.

Security was one of Ramaphosa’s main themes in his reshuffle address. He noted that it has been three weeks since the country experienced an orchestrated campaign of public violence, destruction and sabotage.

“I wish to once again commend the brave actions of our security forces on the ground, who were faced with a difficult situation and exercised commendable restraint to prevent any loss of life or further escalation. While calm has been restored to the affected areas and our law enforcement agencies are working hard to bring those responsible to justice, we have acknowledged that our security services were found wanting in several respects.

“As part of the critical measures we are undertaking to strengthen our security services and to prevent a recurrence of such events, I am appointing an expert panel to lead a thorough and critical review of our preparedness and the shortcomings in our response,” he said.

As a former MK officer and defence committee chair, Modise understands the role of the military and the Department of Defence and why it needs to be properly resourced, but it is not clear if she will be able to persuade National Treasury for more funding.

Her appointment comes at a time when the South African National Defence Force faces big deployments in and outside its borders.

Up to 25 000 members are employed under Operation Prosper internally and up to 1 495 have been authorised to be deployed to Mozambique under the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique.

Prior to being appointed defence minister, Modise was the Speaker of the National Assembly from 22 May 2019 to 5 August 2021.

Previously she was the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces from 22 May 2014 and served as Premier of the North West from November 2010 to May 2014.