Jacob Zuma’s new Cabinet dare not disappoint – Gwede Mantashe

2014-05-26 08:20

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

The ANC 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,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said yesterday.

He said the ANC welcomed the “bold and decisive” step by Zuma to reorganise and refocus 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 power.

“Now is the time to pool our collective energies to the task at hand to create an SA 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 (SACP), also welcomed and congratulated the new appointees.

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said the fifth administration should drive polices for radical socioeconomic 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 DA 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 SA’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 reappointment 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-Pettersson to the Department of Energy is lamentable,” Zille said.

“Ms Joemat-Pettersson 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 cooperative 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 Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which has underperformed for several years.”

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) 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.

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

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