There’s no need to defend Zuma’s reshuffle

2010-11-20 14:31

The ANC has noted with concern the ­negative slant that some media houses have given to the recent Cabinet ­reshuffle.

These relate to wild suggestions that ­President Jacob Zuma was “appeasing and strengthening his support base in KwaZulu­Natal” by appointing “Zulu-speaking” ministers, and that he was throwing forward a lifeline for his ­re-election campaign during the forthcoming 2012 national ANC conference.

It should be emphasised that before the ­Cabinet reshuffle took place, Zuma received overwhelming support and a mandate from ­delegates at the party’s recent national general council (NGC) held in Durban – from delegates ­representing all ANC structures across the country.

Zuma therefore did not need to reshuffle out of consideration for his political future as ­president of the ANC.

What some commentators have failed to grasp was that Cabinet does not have any status at ANC national conferences.

Only ANC structures such as branches, ­regions and provinces, as well as its leagues have the power to elect new ­leadership.

It is interesting to note that even if Zuma did not reshuffle Cabinet, some would still have wasted no time in crucifying him on the altar of “indecision”, “failure to act” or for being “a lame duck president”.

Such laughable assertions coming from ­uninformed quarters also ignore the fact that the Zuma administration was from the onset premised on efficiency planning in his office to ensure a coherent governance strategy and that ­service delivery cascades to all government ­departments.

To support this broad vision, the president appointed a ­minister ­responsible for planning and ­another tasked with ­performance ­monitoring and evaluation to ­ensure the roles of ministers and their respective departments have clear delivery ­targets within set time-frames.

This led to the much-publicised contracting ­between the president and his ­ministers, setting the stage for ­unprecedented accountability by government since 1994.

The collective wisdom and experience of the ANC leadership was not found wanting when they had to intensify the effort to put a ­formidable team together that had a proven track record.

What informs the deployment of ANC cadres is their expertise and experience, as well as the necessary track record and qualifications to take forward the programme of the movement.

It should also be noted that reshuffles can be effected because of positive considerations or reaffirmation of people who have a capacity to play a more meaningful role outside of Cabinet.

None of the ministers removed have been ­victimised. The president has made it clear that these former ministers were due for ­redeployment in other areas of public service.

The truth and the facts are that most of those appointed were already serving in senior ­positions in Parliament or within the executive. In a nutshell, this demonstrates their collective experience, expertise and political astuteness.

During our election campaign last year, we made it clear that we will do things differently in order to bring about faster change.

We said this would require that we focus on building an effective developmental state, with capacity to provide strategic coordination and planning throughout the government system.

This being in line with government priorities for the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihood, rural development and agrarian ­reform, education and health, and the fight against crime and corruption.

When the president and the ANC see gaps and weaknesses in our government structures, certainly he should and will act.

The president is in line with his prerogative, and he did the right thing to ensure that service delivery takes effect faster, better and smarter for the benefit of all South Africans.

» ?Mthembu is national spokesperson for the ANC

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