Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle: performance or politics?

2013-07-14 14:00

What were President Jacob Zuma’s motivations for his fourth Cabinet reshuffle in four years?

Had performance been the yardstick for President Jacob Zuma’s decision to reshuffle his Cabinet, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi and the Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities (WCPD) Lulu Xingwana would have been axed this week.

Scorecards filled out by 30 of 42 national departments to assess their own performance for 2012 rate Public Works, WCPD and the military veterans departments at the bottom of the pile.

Instead, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale, Communications Minister Dina Pule and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi were fired.

And while Zuma has never ­revealed the individual ministers’ performance contracts, information about the performance of the departments they lead is publicly available.

The departments are rated on a score of one to four. One stands for noncompliance with government management standards and four means they are working smartly.

There has been speculation in the wake of the reshuffle that Sexwale and Baloyi were fired because of their poor performance in ­government.

But Sexwale’s department scored well above the public service average in all four of the assessed areas, making it one of the star performers. It also excelled in improving service delivery, accountability and ethics.

Baloyi’s department scored above average in three areas, but performed badly on human ­resource and systems ­management.

By contrast, the department of military veterans scored below ­average in all four assessed areas.

It is followed by ­Xingwana’s department, which performed only marginally better. A senior government official, dismissing the scorecards, said Sexwale had “done nothing in human settlements since ­Mangaung”.

The executive argued that ­Sexwale was not chopped for ­opposing the Zuma camp at Mangaung.

The survival of Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was ­evidence of this, they claimed. “Paul has been working extremely hard.

He has changed things to capture, much more succinctly, issues of heritage and history. Look at Mbalula. Sport is not an easy portfolio, but he is doing his best and working really hard.”

Another senior official saw dropping Baloyi and Pule as “pre-emptive moves by the president”.

“Both had allowed their portfolios to get out of hand and weren’t getting the job done.

Baloyi has had no control over local governments, which are up in flames all over the country, and Pule was a source of embarrassment.

“The Public Protector’s report was going to come out during the election campaign. He clearly didn’t want that happening.”

A senior government executive disagreed on the reason Pule was axed.

“This wasn’t about her ­personal life. This was about her not being able to get the job done in a very crucial portfolio.”

The government executive believed all the changes were done for practical, not political, reasons.

“These are all appointments that are good for the country, very technical appointments, bringing in people who will get work done.

“Communi-cations must be run efficiently. It is a key department in the economic cluster, managing the telecommuni-cations and broadcasting sectors.”

The executive also backed the choice of Lechesa Tsenoli to replace Baloyi.

“Lechesa has many years’ experience in the portfolio, having been MEC for local government in the Free State and having chaired the portfolio committee in the ­National Assembly before being appointed deputy minister.

“He is also an ex-SA National Civic Organisation leader, so he has a good grasp of community activism and issues.”

A new set of departmental scorecards will be presented at the next Cabinet meeting, according to ­Ismail Akhalwaya, the programme manager for performance assessment at the department of ­performance monitoring and evaluation.

“The purpose (of the scorecards) is to give departments a sense of what the state of management is,” said Akhalwaya.

“It is the responsibility of the minister and the director-general to implement improvements.”

New minister's to-do list: Connie September

1Make sure to spend more of the department’s budget this year. Last year, the R25?billion budget was underspent by R4?billion because of poor planning and target setting.

2Get the gap market and the

finance-linked individual subsidy programme up and running properly. President Jacob Zuma announced it in 2012, but there’s been no real movement since then.

3Tackle corruption in the department, perhaps by setting up a hotline. Almost 10% of all complaints to the Public Protector are related to corruption and maladministration in low-cost housing delivery.

4Get flush toilets to the 4.8?million people who still use the bucket ­system or have no toilets at all and amend human settlements legislation to include sanitation.

5Reintroduce the Rental Housing Amendment Bill to Parliament. This will allow for an appeals mechanism in disputes between tenants and landlords and help harmonise relations.

New minister's to-do list: Lechesa Tsenoli

1Time is running out for municipalities to clean up their finances before 2014.

Last year’s municipal finance audit results suggest that project Clean Audit 2014 might be a pipe dream, but you still have to attend to it because this is the promise your predecessor made.

2By now you know that service-delivery protests have been growing with each passing year.

Please read the Local Government Strategy and the latest draft reports to see how individual municipalities are faring.

Many are still struggling, and this might require new interventions.

3Please create a team of municipal technical specialists and send them to the trouble spots before these flare up.

4Some traditional leaders are also unhappy that your department has still not awarded the perks of office the Seriti Commission said you should give them.

5Municipalities still need regulations to guide them on the appointment of senior managers, despite the ­Municipal Systems Act being amended in 2011. To avoid the appointment of managers, go to Parliament and get the regulations approved.

New minister's to-do list: Yunus Carrim

1The digital terrestrial television (DTT) process has been a disaster because of numerous delays. The debate over the access control system that will be used in the set-top boxes must be resolved, as the spectrum that will be freed up through the DTT process is essential for new Wi-Fi broadband services.

2With a national election around the corner, sorting out the SABC once and for all is imperative.

3Since the government denied the ­Korean acquisition of Telkom, the market has been waiting on ­direction from government for the ­beleaguered telco.

4Spectrum allocation is key to the roll-out of wireless broadband and other telecommunications services. A number of private and public entities have not been paying their full spectrum licence fees to Icasa.

5We need a strategy to address broadband penetration. According to the 2011 census, 64.8% of South ­Africans had no access to the internet.

Cabinet reshuffle: Performance or Politics?

– Carien du Plessis, Sabelo Ndlangisa and Lloyd Gedye

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