No proof of 'business-friendly' intent in Ramaphosa's Cabinet

2019-06-03 11:18
Cyril Ramaphosa during the announcement of the new cabinet in Pretoria on Wednesday (May 29 2019). Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

Cyril Ramaphosa during the announcement of the new cabinet in Pretoria on Wednesday (May 29 2019). Picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

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The News24 Friday Briefing, 31 May 2019, has reference.

Both Mpumelelo Mkhabela and Pieter du Toit to a large extent overlooked a crucial "what's missing?" question in their otherwise good analyses of the new Cabinet appointments. Where is the evidence that the president is actually intent on becoming business-friendly in terms of his Cabinet choices? 

His one permissible appointment from outside of the ANC list was Ebrahim Patel. This sub-performing former economic affairs, labour union-friendly minister seldom if never showed any intention to stimulate economic development by the private sector, but rather instituted more government control over and restriction of private sector initiative.

Like all other ideologues with socialist leanings, he is a great believer in prescribing to the private sector how they should do business, even though businesses know "the business of business" and carry the risks of doing business, unlike the minister and his bureaucrats. And to add insult to the injury of business-friendliness, our president gave Patel some SACP/socialist and educational sector assistance in the form of the two appointed deputy-ministers.

But that's not the end of it. In order to thank Patel for whatever he did not achieve during his former ministerial appointment, he substantially enlarged his ministry by adding trade and industry. Hence, a hugely influential ministry was created which is supposed to get the economy going again. Yes, Mboweni and Gordhan's reappointments will help, but Mboweni is on record rightly saying that he does not make policies regarding crucial issues such as privatisation as minister of finance. Gordhan, with his proven inclination for heavy state involvement is rather likely to let the state continue to crowd out private sector business involvement in the economy than encouraging it. Gordhan many times went on record defending state enterprises per se, only complaining about their corruption and incompetence, not their (in his opinion) essential role in the economy.

Our president and his Cabinet thus have their jobs cut out to convince the private sector that they are indeed as business-friendly as the president wanted us to believe. This will be a total departure from the ANC's natural tendencies and previous proven track record. But we are willing to be surprised, Mr President.

Piet du Plessis



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