Labour pushes?for Patel

2009-10-31 13:52

COSATU secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi wants President Jacob Zuma to make a public announcement that will finally settle the ­intense political tiff about Economic Development Minister ­Ebrahim ­Patel’s job description.

“I am hoping the president will make a proclamation very soon to put the matter to rest and close the debate. We want the turf wars to come to an end,” Vavi said.

Six months after appointing Patel Zuma has not publicly announced what the former trade unionist will do. Meanwhile, turf wars have been raging between Patel and National Planning Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Another potential turf battle that has so far been downplayed is that between Patel and Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Vavi is pleased that Zuma has excluded Manuel from the economic cluster and that the former finance minister will not be responsible for economic policy co-ordination and planning. He said the role of planning and co-ordination in the economic cluster belonged to Patel.

Vavi said Patel’s job was to ensure that government’s economic policies sang from the same hymn sheet.

“Patel will ensure that all government economic policies speak to one another in pursuit of decent work and the eradication of poverty.

“As the man entrusted with economic planning and co-ordination, he must ensure that the fiscal, monetary, industrial and trade policies do not act to cancel one another,” Vavi said.

When pressed to elaborate on how Patel’s policy co-ordination would work from a practical point of view, Vavi replied: “I am not in government. I am just a trade unionist. The president will have to answer this question.”

Once the dust has settled any proclamation by Zuma will be followed by amendments to the Constitution to give Patel powers to execute his mandate.

Patel’s department was among the eight newly created departments that received a combined R562.1?million from Gordhan this week when he delivered his maiden medium-term budget speech in Parliament.

Out of that amount the economic development department received a paltry R29?million, suggesting it was still far from being a fully-fledged government department.

Cosatu is unhappy that Patel, labour’s eyes and ears in cabinet’s economic cluster, has been given so little money to work with and yet is expected to build a department from scratch. He has no staff and works from an office in the DTI Campus, the department of trade and industry’s headquarters in Pretoria.

Vavi said: “This has to be explained. You can’t effectively carry out a mandate with this money.”

Patel’s spokesperson, Zubeida Jaffer, said the department had assumed some of the responsibilities that were previously that of the DTI.

Jaffer said: “The two ministers (Patel and Davies) and senior staff have made considerable progress in identifying the functions and commencing the organisational and legal work to ensure the transfers. Engagements with other ministries are continuing.”

She did not name the ministries that are being asked to give up some of their responsibilities to Patel. She said Patel has been given the lead role of reducing the current account deficit, which was R73.1?billion in the second quarter of this year. He is also spearheading government’s response to the global recession.

Economist Iraj Abedian believes that once Patel’s mandate has been clarified it will be hard for him not to step on the toes of other ministers in the economic cluster.

Abedian says creating the economic development department might have appeased leftists in the ANC-led tripartite alliance but it has also caused friction.

“If a technical decision was taken the friction and inconsistencies would have been minimised,” Abedian says.

He says he initially thought the department would be an economic advisory department.

“The policymakers would put out policies that others would implement,” he says.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.