Look who’s jostling for a place in Zuma’s Cabinet

2014-05-18 15:00

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President Jacob Zuma is set to announce his Cabinet within days of his inauguration on Saturday – and fierce behind-the-scenes lobbying for positions will start this week.

Most eyes are on the economic cluster of ministers, with labour pushing for Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to be replaced by his deputy, Nhlanhla Nene. A move like that would also satisfy the lobby which has been pushing for more black African faces in the economic cluster.

Gordhan’s remarks last year that he may retire were interpreted as a sign that he might go, but he will return to Parliament as number 13 on the ANC’s list and will most likely end up in Cabinet again.

Zuma is likely to be well aware of the importance of continuity in this position for favourable economic ratings and investment. Tito Mboweni’s name has also been mentioned as a possible finance minister.

A union source said Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel – a former unionist – could make way for outgoing unionists Senzeni Zokwana or Fikile Majola, who will be sworn in as MPs this week.

But a source in organised business said there were fears that Patel could get the trade and industry portfolio in which they believe Rob Davies has been doing a good job.

Lobbyists in teachers’ union Sadtu want to see Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga go, but Zuma has consistently defended Motshekga’s performance.

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi’s name has been mentioned as a replacement, although his previous links with Sadtu might leave him compromised.

Former Public Works minister Thoko Didiza, who resigned after former president Thabo Mbeki was ousted and who had been outside formal politics for five years, could return in Nxesi’s place. She is number 15 on the ANC’s parliamentary list.

Whispers in health nongovernmental organisation circles in recent weeks had it that the very capable Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi may move to education.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane may move to Cabinet to head a beefed-up women’s ministry, which is expected to be merged with social development.

Mokonyane is number 11 on the Gauteng legislature list but her name is not short-listed for reappointment as premier.

The planning ministry is expected to fall away while a small business ministry will be created.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is expected to be shifted elsewhere after difficulties in the fisheries portfolio in Western Cape.

Beeld reported earlier this month that talk in military circles suggests Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula could be replaced by Justice Minister Jeff Radebe. But Mapisa-Nqakula reportedly said she was keen to stay.

The rest of Zuma’s trusted security cluster is expected to remain.

Diplomatic sources suggest that International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will keep her portfolio.

But there is pressure from investors to replace Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu because of her poor track record in managing mine unrest.

Deputy minister in the presidency Obed Bapela is set for promotion to a full ministry, but it is unclear which one this will be. Two ANC national executive committee members said the changes should be left to Zuma to decide.

“I don’t think there should be canvassing for individuals. The president has shown appreciation for diversity. Lobbies bring about factionalism and tensions in the organisation. We should be giving space to the leadership to lead,” said one.

An MP said the caucus would meet on Tuesday to discuss the appointments of the Speaker and the deputy speaker. He said it could either be Max Sisulu or Nomaindia Mfeketo. Stone Sizani was likely to stay on as chief whip.

The MP said there was no clarity on whether Baleka Mbete, who is number 19 on the ANC’s national list to Parliament, would end up as deputy president again.

Mbete refused to be sworn into Parliament in 2009 after it became clear she would not be reappointed as deputy president.

But ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa looks set to become Zuma’s deputy in government.

It would take a two-thirds majority in Parliament to change the Constitution so the country could have two deputy presidents. But the ANC only managed to get 62.2% of the vote in this month’s general elections.

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