Mixed reactions to fifth cabinet

ANC Deputy-President elect Cyril Ramaphosa and president Jacob Zuma look on during the first sitting of the 5th democratic parliament in Cape Town, 21 May 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise

President Jacob Zuma’s newly-announced Cabinet was largely welcomed on Sunday as being able to drive socio-economic transformation forward, but the official opposition was decidedly less excited about the prospects.

The African National Congress believed the choice of leaders was balanced and experienced.

“It is our belief that the Cabinet, as announced, espouses the qualities necessary for the task ahead, guided by the National Development Plan, to decisively confront unemployment, poverty, and inequality in an equitable and accountable manner,” said ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.

He said the ANC welcomed the “bold and decisive” step by Zuma to re-organise and re-focus government departments.

“We believe that these changes will lead to greater cost effectiveness and more effective monitoring of the work of government. The number of government ministries has not increased as a result.”

Mantashe congratulated the new Cabinet and reminded them that they dare not disappoint citizens who had entrusted them with the power.

“Now is the time to pool our collective energies to the task at hand to create a South Africa that is even better than it is today,” he said.

“We have full confidence in the ability of our public representatives to fulfil the commitment made by President Zuma that the fifth democratically elected administration will serve our people with humility, commitment, and dedication.”

Fellow tripartite alliance member, the SA Communist Party, also welcomed and congratulated the new appointees.

SACP spokesman Alex Mashilo said the fifth administration should drive polices for radical socio-economic transformation and development, as stated by Zuma in his inaugural address on Saturday.

“This is incompatible with neoliberalism. The SACP therefore says, one of the critical conditions for our second radical phase of democratic transition to succeed is to do away with all the remnants of neoliberalism in our state.”

A less enthusiastic Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said the new Cabinet left citizens with little hope that the country’s problems would be effectively tackled.

“President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of his new Cabinet does not inspire confidence that South Africa’s major challenges — weak economic growth, unemployment, and corruption — will be tackled effectively in the president’s second term,” Zille said.

She welcomed two announcements — the re-appointment of Aaron Motsoaledi as health minister and Angie Motshekga as basic education minister to ensure continuity in Cabinet.

But, the retention of other ministers, or their move to other important portfolios, did not bode well, she said.

These included Thulas Nxesi, who stays on as public works minister, and Mildred Oliphant who retains her position as labour minister.

“In particular, the move of Tina Joemat-Petterson to the department of energy is lamentable,” Zille said.

“Ms Joemat-Petterson performed very poorly as minister of agriculture, and does not deserve to serve in the executive.”

Zuma’s decision to expand his Cabinet was also labelled a bad move.

“What the government needs is a leaner, more effective administration, not an ever growing executive,” Zille said.

“It is clear that these new positions have little to do with efficiency, and everything to do with solving the ANC’s internal political problems at public expense.”

Moving former finance minister Pravin Gordhan to co-operative governance and traditional affairs would negatively affect international investor confidence.

“We hope that over the coming years [new finance] minister Nhlanhla Nene will prove that he can get rising government debt levels under control and that he can instil a sense of fiscal discipline that has been lacking in recent years,” Zille said.

“We hope that minister Gordhan will bring his trademark efficiency to the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, which has under performed for several years.”

The National Union of Mineworkers especially welcomed the appointment of a former NUM president.

“[The] NUM congratulates… its former president Senzeni Zokwana for being appointed as minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries by President Jacob Zuma…” the union said in a statement.

“This is in line with swelling the ranks of the ANC which is a Cosatu congress resolution.”

People Against Suffering, Oppression, and Poverty (Passop) dedicated their statement to praising the appointment of Malusi Gigaba to home affairs. Gigaba previously headed public enterprises and was a deputy home affairs minister before that.

“It is also clear that when he was involved in home affairs he left behind him a reputation as an extremely hard worker, who the departmental staff looked up to,” Passop community outreach officer Anthony Muteti said.

“He has, in our previous interactions, shown a deep sense of humility and understanding, both for South Africans and immigrants, who the department services.”

Passop said Gigaba’s appointment showed that Zuma took home affairs seriously.

He hoped that Gigaba would manage migration correctly, document more people, weed out corruption, and deliver identity books to every citizen.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) welcomed the opportunity to work with minister Jeff Radebe and deputy minister Buti Manamela in the performance, monitoring, and evaluation ministry within the presidency.

This, after Zuma announced the ministry would continue to be responsible for youth development.

“The president could not have chosen a better executive for matters of youth development — well-experienced, dynamic, and passionate,” said NYDA executive chair Yershen Pillay.

“Young people should watch this space; this government is serious about youth development.”

He said Manamela, as the Young Communist League of SA (YCLSA) national secretary and ANC MP, had always been passionate and highly committed to improving the lives of young people.

The YCLSA said it was humbled by Manamela’s appointment.

“We would like to wish him, the entire Cabinet and deputy ministers well in the tasks that lie ahead.

The NYDA also welcomed the establishment of the small business development ministry, to be headed by Lindiwe Zulu.

“We are jubilant about the new ministry that will assist the growth and development of small businesses and we are confident that young South Africans will benefit the most from such a ministry,” Pillay said.

– Sapa



today in print

today in print