Cabinet reshuffle: mixed reactions

2011-11-16 00:00

PREMIER Zweli Mkhize’s mid-term cabinet reshuffle received mixed reactions yesterday from the ANC’s alliance partners and opposition parties.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) provincial secretary Zet Luzipo said the federation’s executive has yet to discuss the details, but has questions about what informed the restructuring.

“We want to know what underpinned the assessment and what were the MECs’ scores. We will also look at the principle of gender parity and whether it was compromised,” said Luzipo.

He questioned the inclusion of Ravi Pillay in the cabinet, saying the Human Settlements post should have been filled by someone who knows the challenges faced by department.

However, he stressed that Cosatu is not undermining the premier’s decision or saying that Pillay would not not perform, and he wished the new team success.

The national spokesperson for the South African National Civics Organisation (Sanco), Dumisani Mthalane, was less diplomatic, saying the sacking of Maggie Govender is “good riddance”.

Mthalane said Govender had not provided houses to black people because she does not understand their plight. He said he believes Mkhize should have appointed a black to the position.

“We are not saying that the issue of racial inclusion is not important, but the issue of housing backlogs affects Africans …[the reshuffling] was not well thought out.”

The SA Communist Party’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Themba Mthembu, applauded the reshuffling as long overdue.

“We cannot say we are fully satisfied by it, but we strongly believe that all of the [MECs] should be given a chance.”

The chairperson of the disbanded KZN ANC Youth League, Mthandeni Dlungwane, said his members are pleased that their call for a reshuffle has been heeded.

“We are also happy with the appointment of MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha because we have been calling for a generational mix in the cabinet.”

The provincial chairperson of the ANC Women’s League, Lungi Gcabashe, said it is never nice to see women removed from their positions, but that she accepted the ANC’s deployment policy.

“We would have loved to see a woman being replaced by another … there are suitable and competent women out there who can do the job.”

Opposition parties were more critical.

Democratic Alliance leader in the KZN Legislature Sizwe Mchunu likened the reshuffling to positions within a losing soccer team.

“The DA is most dissatisfied with the way that the performance of MECs in their portfolios over the past two years does not seem to have been the main consideration of the premier.

“Instead, it appears that internal political and factional interests, and personal loyalties have been the basis for appointments and demotions.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s leader in the legislature, Blessed Gwala, said, “We are disturbed by the fact that there are some MECs who have been retained when they do not deserve to be. Keeping these MECs is like [shifting] rubbish from dustbin to dustbin instead of recycling it completely.”

He said the ruling party has failed to appoint the right people because it is more concerned about cadre deployment with the party national conference in Mangaung in sight.

The Mayor of Umvoti Municipality, Philani Mavundla, speaking in his capacity as a businessman, said Govender’s sacking is good news for all people who have no shelter.

“Our prayers have finally been answered.

“It also brings justice to contractors who have been suffering. My company had to go to court three times and this was the only time we got paid.”

thandom@witness.co.za; nalini@witness.co.za; thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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