Motlanthe names his team

2008-09-25 00:00

Cape Town — South Africa’s new president, Kgalema Motlanthe, moved swiftly to announce his Cabinet yesterday, naming former National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete as his deputy president and maintaining Finance Minister Trevor Manuel in his present position.

In an acceptance speech interpreted as calming and reassuring, Motlanthe vowed that the government will remain true to the economic policies that have kept South Africa steady.

He also pledged that his Cabinet will intensify efforts to accelerate growth and job creation.

Among the surprise changes are the shift of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang from Health to the position of Minister in the Presidency and her replacement by the respected veteran ANC MP Barbara Hogan.

Former Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla has been shifted to Public Enterprises and replaced by former Education deputy minister Enver Surty.

Charles Ngqakula has been appointed minister of Defence, while KwaZulu-Natal-raised former ANC Chief Whip Nathi Mthethwa will replace him in the key position of Safety and Security minister.

Another KwaZulu-Natal politician and former chair of Parliament’s joint standing committee on Intelligence, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, is the new minister of Intelligence, replacing Ronnie Kasrils, while former ANC deputy chief whip Geoff Doidge replaces Thoko Didiza in Public Works.

Sicelo Shiceka, former chairman of the National Council of Provinces’ committee on Local Government and Administration, is to replace Sydney Mufamadi as minister of Provincial and Local Government, while Richard Baloyi replaces Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi as minister of Public Service and Administration.

In a speech hailed by analysts for its commitment to stability and continuity, Motlanthe pledged that the government is firmly on course to deliver to the poor, to halve unemployment and poverty by 2014, to stamp out crime, violence and abuse and to build safer communities.

He also vowed that South Africa will host “the best Fifa World Cup ever” in 2010 and will continue to meet all its obligations.

Making it clear that policies will remain the same, Motlanthe said: “The policies of this government are clear. They are based on the 2004 Manifesto of the African National Congress, enhanced by the decisions of both the ANC’s policy conference and its 52nd national conference in Polokwane in December 2007.

“Mine is not the desire to deviate from what is working. It is not for me to reinvent policy. Nor do I intend to reshape either Cabinet or the public service.

“We will not allow that the work of government be interrupted. We will not allow the stability of our democratic order to be compromised. And we will not allow the confidence that our people have in the ability of the state to respond to their needs to be undermined.”

Motlanthe said it is “as important as ever” that South Africa remains united as a nation.

He also paid warm tribute to Mbeki, saying there is “no value” that can be placed on the services he has rendered to South Africa.

“For all that you have done for South Africa, for our continent and for the advancement of the global community, we remain forever indebted.”

Motlanthe said he is in negotiations with Azzapo to retain Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena. He did not announce a deputy Finance minister to replace Jabu Moleketi.

Hogan, the new Health minister, is widely respected for her work in the Finance sector and for her commitment to the struggle.

She joined the ANC after the 1976 uprisings, and was detained from 1982 until 1990. She played a key role in restructuring the ANC as secretary of the PWV regional office. She is married to veteran ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada.

Analyst Justice Malala yesterday hailed her appointment, saying she is known to be deeply concerned about HIV and Aids in South Africa.

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