Zuma’s political allies come in from the cold

2009-10-31 14:46

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma continued to bring his political allies in from the cold with the appointment of former transport minister Mac Maharaj as his special envoy on Friday.

Zuma has also appointed Welile Nhlapo, who is currently South Africa’s ambassador to the US, as his national security special adviser.

Maharaj and recently appointed secret service boss Moe Shaik lost political favour under former president Thabo Mbeki when they took Zuma’s side in his battle against corruption charges against him brought by the national prosecuting authority.

“An envoy is a messenger for the president and I will give 120% of myself to the job,” said Maharaj yesterday. He ended a teaching engagement in the US last August.

His new post is on the level of an ambassador and Maharaj is likely to advise on global hotspots, including the Middle East, Burma (Myanmar) and Sri Lanka.

Nhlapo served as Zuma’s special envoy to Burundi before taking up the US ambassadorship. He is expected to advise on conflict zones in Africa, notably Zimbabwe and ­Somalia.

The Presidency is swelling as Zuma consolidates his inner circle. The department is expensive to run as each adviser earns the salary of a director-general. Zuma has also added two ministers, Collins Chabane and Trevor Manuel, to his staff. Both Chabane, who is in charge of performance monitoring and evaluation, and Manuel, who runs the national planning commission, are hiring their own staff.

Zuma has chosen advisers and staff on three grounds: close comrades these include director-general Vusi Mavimbela and Maharaj; and party seniors chief operations officer Jessie Duarte and international adviser Lindiwe Zulu, and from Mbeki’s administration cabinet ministers such as former trade and industry minister Mandisi Mphalwa; and political adviser and former safety and security minister Charles Nqakula.

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