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  • South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa reacts during the announcement of the new cabinet in Pretoria, South Africa May 29, 2019.

    South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa reacts during the announcement of the new cabinet in Pretoria, South Africa May 29, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 29 May 2019

Half the new ministers are women, making South Africa one of the world's few gender-balanced governments.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Wednesday cut the number of cabinet ministers from 36 to 28, in a move he said would tackle the country's "bloated" government and improve efficiency.

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"For the first time in the history of our country, half of all ministers are women," Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.

He announced the new line-up after he led the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to victory in elections earlier this month.

"To promote greater coherence, better coordination and improved efficiency, we (are) reducing the number of ministers from 36 to 28," he added.

"This is a significant move of downscaling our state. Many people believed our government ... was bloated and this was agreed right across the board."

Ramaphosa took office last year after the ousting of graft-tainted Jacob Zuma, who had expanded the number of ministerial posts in an alleged attempt to strengthen his patronage network.

He added that the ANC had been re-elected with a mandate to end "state capture" — the term used to describe government corruption under Zuma.

"All South Africans are acutely aware of the great economic difficulties our country has been experiencing," Ramaphosa said.

"It is therefore imperative ... we place priority on revitalizing our economy while exercising the greatest care in the use of public funds."

The ANC won the May 8 election with 57.5 percent of the vote, its smallest majority since it led the fight against the apartheid regime that was replaced by multi-racial democracy in 1994.

The party's celebrated reputation was badly sullied under Zuma's 2009-2018 rule as it was confronted by multiple corruption allegations and public anger over the failure to tackle post-apartheid inequality.

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