Cabinet: the state of who's in ... and who's out

2014-02-16 14:00

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President Jacob Zuma’s past six state of the nation addresses have followed a similar pattern. If you use them as a bellwether, you may be able to predict who will make the cut when the president chooses his new Cabinet in May. Ferial Haffajee gazes into the crystal ball.

Minister of Public Enterprises

Malusi Gigaba

The public enterprises minister is captain of many ships. As the steward of Transnet, he oversees the multibillion-rand refurbishment of trains, railways and ports.

He also leads the transport infrastructure-led programme Zuma believes will lead to reindustrialisation.

The jury is out on how successful it will be but Zuma is crafting a legacy out of infrastructure and Gigaba is an able proponent.

His telegenic visibility has also propelled him to the top of the ANC’s national lists.

Minister of Home Affairs

Naledi Pandor

This capable minister comes up in Zuma’s addresses and is doing an able job of running home affairs.

The social grant system (another way Zuma hopes to build a legacy) starts at an effective home affairs office where young, indigent and old people procure the documents to access payments.

Minister of Social Development

Bathabile Dlamini

This minister has enabled Zuma to meet a key presidential ambition – bringing the 3?million additional grant recipients into the welfare net.

The president announced it in his 2009 address and it has now been done.

Minister of Economic Development

Ebrahim Patel

His department does little more than oversee and coordinate the R800?billion infrastructure budget.

It comes up in every state of the nation address and enables the president to show success, be it the De Hoop Dam, the Mthatha project or the near-eradication of mud schools.

Minister of Basic education

Angie Motshekga

It may have taken the DA leader to convince a sceptical punditry that Motshekga knows her ABC but if you’ve been watching the speeches, it has been clear for years.

The matric pass rate is up, if off a low benchmark and a very high dropout percentage.

But Motshekga is on the right track and introduced annual national assessments. In addition, she appears to have sorted out chronic textbook shortages.

No doubt, civil society has played a role in keeping the minister’s hand on the chalkboard.

She will make the cut. It’s handy that she has managed to convince the ANC Women’s League that South Africa was not ready for its first woman president.

Minister of Health

Aaron Motsoaledi

The health minister is another evergreen in the state of the nation speeches.

Not only has he reversed the trajectory of Aids-related deaths and infections, he

has come the closest to establishing a national health insurance scheme.

It will take at least a decade to get going because of the low quality of public health.

But Motsoaledi was the first to establish a baseline audit of all public health facilities. He is at war with the pharmaceutical, alcohol, private health and salt industries. But in a leftist government, this is no markdown.

Minister of Higher Education

Blade Nzimande

A passionate if dogmatic minister, he has recapitalised the student financial aid scheme and returned further education and training to centre stage from the stepchild status it had been placed in for more than a decade.

The jury is out on whether the further education and training college system is working.

He has also taken the SA Communist Party into the heart of the Zuma administration.

Minister of Finance

Pravin Gordhan

A stalwart, Gordhan has shepherded the economy through rugged terrain, including a recession and a series of global crises.

We are not in great shape but it could be worse.

If he does not return as finance minister, it will be of his own volition.

Minister of Energy

Dipuo Peters

This minister is a quiet favourite for altering the energy mix.

She was highlighted this week for soon overseeing fracking?–?the hydraulic fracturing of the Karoo basin to investigate natural gas mining.

It’s terrible, but the industry has the president’s ear.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Tina Joemat-Pettersson

Three state of the nations ago, the president earmarked agriculture for food security and job creation.

It’s not working and the minister’s departments (agriculture and fisheries) are never far from controversy.

Judging by the national addresses, this minister should not survive – but she will.

Minister in the Presidency

Trevor Manuel

Manuel is probably on his way out as the head of the National Planning Commission in the presidency.

He has declined a spot on the ANC electoral lists.

This may explain why his National Development Plan opened Zuma’s speech last year but was marginalised this week.

The plan is meant to be at the centre of policy but it’s not really.

Minister of Mineral Resources

Susan Shabangu

Shame. Almost every year, Shabangu’s industry is in the spotlight?for all the wrong reasons.

In the 2012 address, the industry was gripped by the nationalisation debate.

A year later, it was bludgeoned by the massacre at Marikana and this year it is an extended strike season.

Owners are jittery and the workers are militant.

Minister of Communications

Yunus Carrim

Every year since 2009, the president has promised cheaper call costs, better broadband speeds and an imminent move to digital broadcasting.

It never happens. Nice as he is, do we even need a communications minister?

It feels like he is communications minister number 100 for this administration and progress is still being made at a snail’s pace.

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