Alliance battle over posts

2009-04-26 00:00

Pretoria — A fierce battle is raging behind the scenes among the ANC’s alliance partners as president-elect Jacob Zuma begins to put his cabinet together.

The SA Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) played a key role in Zuma’s journey to the Union Buildings, but there are warnings within the alliance that a great leftist voice in the new government is not a foregone conclusion.

A top ANC leader recently went so far as to say he wants to make sure no one from the SACP is included in the cabinet.

From the SACP side, it has been said that the struggle between the alliance partners, which burst into the open under former president Thabo Mbeki, has not gone away, and that they are going to strive to exercise real influence on government policy.

The SACP has already received a blow from the Zuma transition team, when their proposed two-tier cabinet, with senior ministers having greater power, was rejected.

However, it is expected that SACP secretary-general Blade Nzimande will be included in Zuma’s cabinet. He is rumoured to have his eye on the Education Ministry, but is also apparently interested in rural development, an anticipated new portfolio.

His deputy, Jeremy Cronin, chairs the parliamentary transport committee and could get this cabinet post.

It is the president’s prerogative to assemble the cabinet, but unlike Mbeki, Zuma is expected to consult widely with the ANC eadership.

The cabinet is also expected to grow, with Education perhaps being divided into two ministeries — school and tertiary education — and Agriculture and Land Affairs also possibly being split.

The country is waiting to see who will be appointed to the Foreign Affairs post, and the position of Finance Minister, which Trevor Manuel currently holds, is also being closely watched. Manuel could remain in his current portfolio, but there is talk that he will be redeployed to head the new planning commission within the Presidency. This new position will exercise oversight over delivery by all government departments.

Among the possible candidates for Finance is Previn Gordhan, the commissioner of the SA Revenue Service. He is seen as an excellent manager who has the confidence of the international community.

It is speculated that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s ex-wife, will be replaced at Foreign Affairs by current Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Several others, including Transport Minister Jeff Radebe and Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, are also reportedly eyeing this post.

Fikile Mbalula, the former president of the ANC Youth League and head of the party’s election campaign, is expected to be rewarded with a deputy ministerial post, having also played a key role in Zuma’s election as party leader in 2007.

Two women who played key roles in the ANC’s election performance will also be granted top positions. They are Gauteng Housing MEC Nomvula Mokonyane, and Women’s League president Angie Motshekga.

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