“For the first time in the history of our country, half of all the ministers are women,” Ramaphosa said in a televised press conference.
Patricia de Lille, former Mayor of Cape Town and leader of the Good political party has been appointed the minister of public works. The women are due to be sworn in Thursday when newly appointed ministers take their oath of office.
According to Ramaphosa, he was downsizing the number of cabinet ministers from 36 to 28 is an effort to downscale the bloated government.
While many South Africans have applauded the announcement, critics say Ramaphosa has only recycled the same crop of leaders.
South Africa gets gender balanced cabinet
70-year-old Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is one of South Africa’s most powerful politicians and has held ministerial posts in different governments since 1994. She will return as the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs.
Thoko Didiza who returns as minister of agriculture held the same post for eight years under former President Thabo Mbeki.
Ramaphosa was re-elected for a second term after his party, The African National Congress (ANC), won the majority of the vote in the May South Africa general elections.
South Africans have welcomed the move to have equal gender representation. Tanya Cohen from Business Unity South Africa (Busa) said it sent “good signals to have qualified ministers like Dr Naledi Pandor as International Relations minister”.
Yesterday, President Ramaphosa made a point of hosting the “take a girl child to work” day, where he told students he wanted to be a lawyer from a very young age. Many hope that the presence of women will help in poverty alleviation especially among rural women.
The most unexpected move was the appointment of the former Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille. She set up the Good party after she was forced to resign from the opposition Democratic Alliance following an acrimonious power struggle.