Compromise Cabinet gives some hope
President Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet is faced with the daunting task of putting the country on a positive path. However, the compromises he has had to make in some of the appointments illustrate the huge difficulties ahead to rebuild South Africa and eradicate state capture.
It’s a relief to see the Cabinet reduced in size, which addresses the issue of “ministries for political reward”. However, we would have hoped for an equal reduction in the number of deputy ministers. Nonetheless, the real test for financial stability will be in focused oversight of the departments.
We welcome the retention of Tito Mboweni and Pravin Gordhan, as two of the most important appointments. Both are important for continuing the crucial clean-up and for international credibility, which has already been reflected in the small gain in the rand against the dollar after the announcement. The appointment of Gordhan, in particular, sends a signal of strong leadership and a President who is able to resist populist pressure on Cabinet appointments.
The retention of David Mabuza as Deputy President was expected but remains concerning.
We are concerned with the retention of Zweli Mkhize in the Cabinet given the shortcomings in the Cooperative Governance portfolio. However, his long tenure as a previous MEC for Health in KZN should be of benefit to the crucial Health portfolio. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been effective in some of her previous roles and is now faced with the great challenge of fixing COGTA. Her structured approach should help in holding local government to account.
OUTA will be monitoring Blade Nzimande’s performance in Higher Education. We hope that he will rekindle the plan to review of the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), where looting appears entrenched and unchallenged.
We don’t believe that Gwede Mantashe’s appointment to a merged Energy and Mineral Resource will deal effectively with the critical need to develop a modern, sustainable energy system.
The retention of Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams in Communications is worrying, as she had achieved little but conflict over the SABC.
The outsider Patricia de Lille is an unexpected and interesting choice; she now has the challenge of a massive Public Works and Infrastructure portfolio, where huge contracts created opportunities for looting.
OUTA is intrigued by the appointment of Fikile Mbalula as the country’s seventh Minister of Transport since the e-toll decision was announced over a decade ago in 2008. We trust that the new Minister will do the right thing, engage with civil society and find a lasting resolution to the e-tolls debacle.
We welcome the President’s promise that his team’s performance will be “closely monitored against specific outcomes” and that where implementation is unsatisfactory, action will be taken.
Now that the new Cabinet has finally been appointed, the hard work of rebuilding South Africa begins. OUTA will continue in its role as a champion in the fight against corruption and maladministration. We will engage with government in the interest of our country and will continue to hold all those in power to account.