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This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.

SA 1994 Post-election Cabinet Overview

The Cabinet

The cabinet shares executive authority with the president and his deputies, and its members are appointed by the president in consultation with party leaders. Under the interim constitution, cabinet appointments reflect the relative strength of political parties; each party winning more than 5 percent of the popular vote is entitled to a proportional number of cabinet portfolios. In May 1994, the ANC was allocated seventeen cabinet portfolios, and a minister without portfolio was from the ANC. The NP was allocated six cabinet portfolios, and the IFP, three. After NP Minister of Finance Derek Keys resigned in July 1994, that post was designated "nonpartisan," and a new portfolio, General Services, was allocated to the NP in December 1994.

The president, in consultation with national party leaders, appoints a minister and deputy minister to manage each cabinet portfolio. In most ministries, a department staffed by government employees assists the ministry in the implementation of national policy. For example, the Department of Education, within the Ministry of Education, assists in implementing national educational policy. Each department is headed by a director general, who is generally a career government employee.

The cabinet customarily travels between the administrative capital, Pretoria, and the legislative capital, Cape Town, while the parliament is in session. The transitional cabinet's first session on May 23, 1994, took place in Cape Town. The president is required to consult with the cabinet and to gain the approval of two-thirds of the cabinet on issues of fundamental importance, but most cabinet decisions are reached by consensus.

The diversity represented in the new cabinet in 1994 was a major departure from earlier administrations (see table 16, Appendix). The ANC held key portfolios, such as foreign affairs, defense, safety and security, justice, and land affairs, and had strong deputy ministers in finance, home affairs, provincial affairs, and agriculture. The ANC appointees included older contemporaries of President Mandela, middle-aged former exiles, and younger antiapartheid activists of the 1980s. There were three women in the senior executive ranks--two women cabinet ministers and one woman deputy minister.

Other sharp breaks with the past were the reorganization and the renaming of several ministries. For example, in 1994 the Ministry of Law and Order became the Ministry of Safety and Security, and the Ministry of Information was subsumed under the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications, and Broadcasting. In addition, the apartheid-based distinction between a racial community's "own" affairs and "general" affairs was abolished.

One of the new government's most controversial cabinet appointments was the minister of foreign affairs, Alfred Nzo, a veteran of the antiapartheid struggle who had little foreign affairs background. Nzo's deputy, Aziz Pahad, had been considered effective in managing the ANC foreign affairs department during the preelection period, and new Deputy President Mbeki planned to maintain close oversight of the foreign affairs portfolio. Another controversial ANC appointment was that of Winnie Mandela, President Mandela's estranged wife, as deputy minister of arts, culture, science, and technology. In March 1995, the president removed Mrs. Mandela from her post as deputy minister, citing insubordination as the cause for her dismissal. (After a legal challenge of his action, Mrs. Mandela resigned from the post.)

Cabinet ministers from the NP included some of the previous government's most experienced members. Important portfolios were assigned to Keys, who retained the finance portfolio until his resignation, and to constitutional negotiators Roelf Meyer (Ministry of Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development) and Dawie de Villiers (Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism). Veteran minister Roelof "Pik" Botha was appointed Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs.

To appease and to accommodate Mandela's rival, the IFP leader, Zulu Chief Buthelezi, he was appointed minister of home affairs. His duties include managing elections and internal issues, several of which affect his IFP stronghold in KwaZulu-Natal. Buthelezi also shares responsibility for resolving the country's growing problem of illegal immigration from neighboring states.

[Source: U.S. Library of Congress]

This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. Return to the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory site.