South African president names country’s first-ever Cabinet with 50 percent women

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday announced that women will make up half of the country’s Cabinet for the first time.

“For the first time in the history of our country, half of all the ministers are women,” Ramaphosa said in a televised press conference, according to CNN.

Patricia de Lille, the former mayor of Cape Town and leader of the opposition Good party, was named the minister of public works.

Ramaphosa announced the new gender balance at the same time as saying he would downsize the Cabinet from 36 to 28 ministers in an effort to “downscale” the “bloated government,” CNN reported.

Ramaphosa’s African National Congress won a general election on May 8.

Among the other women he has announced for his Cabinet are Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Thoko Didiza, who have both previously held ministerial roles.

Some critics have said that while gender equality is a good goal, those appointments are just a recycling of old leaders.

“Many of the women the president announced have been there for many decades. We need to ask ourselves what kind of paradigm shift are we looking for in this country,” Xolani Dube, a political analyst from the Xubera Institute of Research and Development based in Durban, South Africa, told CNN.

“We need to introduce young women who have a different outlook on how South Africa is supposed to be governed in this particular age,” he added.

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