Cut Cabinet from 31 to 10 ministries, says FMF
David Ansara, Chief Executive Officer of the FMF

In light of the protracted negotiations to form a Government of National Unity (GNU), the Free Market Foundation (FMF) has proposed that South Africa’s current, bloated Cabinet should be reduced from 31 portfolios to only 10 ministries. 

According to the FMF, the size of the Cabinet, in particular the large bureaucracy and contingent of civil servants represented by each portfolio is a significant burden on the economy. Consequently, reducing the size of government is more important than which particular party controls a department at any given time. 

‘The FMF is concerned that the untenable size of government will remain unchanged under the new administration,’ says David Ansara, Chief Executive Officer of the FMF. ‘Instead of horse-trading over which party gets which portfolio, the negotiators should instead focus on shrinking the bloated state.’ 

‘The South African national government currently engages in a lot of activities that could and should be done by communities, businesses, and civil society groups,’ Ansara continued.

The text of the Constitution, the FMF argues, only mandates the existence of the Cabinet portfolios of President, Deputy President, Finance, Cooperative Governance, Justice, Defence, and Police, but additional portfolios are required by necessary implication.

‘Those portfolios that are not required explicitly or implicitly by the Constitution are simply discretionary – and South Africa has too many of these discretionary portfolios, costing the taxpayer billions,’ says Martin van Staden, Head of Policy at the FMF. ‘With this proposal, we seek to show that reform is possible without drastic interventions such as a constitutional amendment.’

The FMF reiterates its September 2023 proposal, that the current 31-member Cabinet, including the ministers in the Presidency, be constitutionally and responsibly reduced to only 10 bureaucracies, by consolidation, devolution to provinces and municipalities, and outright scrapping.

The new Cabinet, if the proposal is adopted, would be organised as follows: