Zuma flexes muscle to end turf war

2009-10-27 06:20

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma has made the Presidency take the position of a

ministry in his restructuring of government.

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel now forms part of the

infrastructure cluster. It is a worrying tendency to “seek to put line-function

ministries on the same pedestal as the Presidency”, policy specialist Joel

Netshitenzhe told the ANC’s Gauteng executive committee this month.

The move is seen by analysts as an attempt to quell the turf war

over economic policy that has emerged in his cabinet.

National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel and Economic Development

Minister Ebrahim Patel have been put in separate clusters – infrastructure

development, and economic sectors and employment.

And as a further act of appeasement, neither of them chair the

critical economic and employment cluster. Instead, the task falls to Rural

Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti.

In the newly configured ministerial clusters, both Manuel and Patel

feature in only one. Neither of them chair their respective clusters.

In contrast, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan features in three

clusters: infrastructure development, economic sectors and employment and

governance and administration. The same applies to Cooperative Governance and

Traditional Affairs Minister Sicelo Shiceka. This makes them important ministers

in the newly configured system.

The fact that the Planning Commission had been left out of the

economic sectors and employment cluster was “an indication of who won the

skirmish” over economic policy, according to political analyst Susan Booysen.

Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said the reconfiguration was

“part of the process of improving coordination within government and enhancing

the delivery of services”.

But the cluster system was not particularly effective under the

presidency of Thabo Mbeki. This week, a United Nations development index found

that South Africa had slipped a position in the rankings of human well-being.

The Presidency’s set of indicators published earlier this month found that SA

has now surpassed Brazil as the most unequal society.

Kwandiwe Kondlo, a political analyst based at the Human Sciences

Research Council, said he was concerned that the new administration had been

“preoccupied with structures” since it took over the reins.

“The solution is not creating new structures, but to get the daily

mundane routine of government right. This is so that we can define the

­irreducible minimum that government can achieve with the modest means at its

disposal,” he said.

Kondlo said continued restructuring could create the impression

that the country was going in different directions. “We are not allowing systems

to settle and then on the basis of that, reviewing systems.”

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