Modise and Cele not returning to JCPS cluster

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With a GNU (Government of National Unity) on the horizon for democratic South Africa’s seventh administration, new faces are expected among public arena representatives, with no Thandi Modise or Bheki Cele in Cabinet or its Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster.

Neither the erstwhile defence and military veterans minister or her counterpart at police numbered high enough on the diminished ANC (African National Congress) public representative’s list to make the cut. Similarly, Modise’s deputy Thabang Makwetla is also a no-show on the parliamentary list handed to Chief Justice Raymond Zondo yesterday (Thursday, 6 June) by Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chair before it was given to Secretary of Parliament, Xolile George, in Johannesburg.

The first sitting of both the National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has to happen no more than 14 days after election results are declared. This took place at the IEC national results operations centre in Gauteng’s Midrand on Sunday, 2 June.

Also missing when Parliament sits for the first time post the 29 May election are Cyril Xaba and Mamagase Nchabeleng, co-chairs of the Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) and the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV).

In August 2021 Modise took over the defence and military veterans portfolio from Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, now facing corruption charges relating to movement of SA National Defence Force (SANDF) military equipment back to South Africa from Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan. Before that she was National Assembly Speaker from May 2019 until replacing Mapisa-Nqakula in a Cabinet reshuffle in the wake of the July 2021 unrest.

Another government official who will not be in the National Assembly or the portfolio committees dealing with defence is the Democratic Alliance’s Kobus Marais. As shadow minister of defence and military veterans he was outspoken in attempting to better the lives of soldiers – serving and retired – by way of constant questioning.

Under South African law, the president has sole discretion to appoint the cabinet, and can include two people who aren’t members of the National Assembly. It is unclear who will head the new government and how it will be composed, with coalition talks still under way.