Zuma gets down to business

2009-05-20 10:32

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma presided over the first meeting of his 62-strong council of ministers - cabinet members and their deputies - at Tuynhuis on Wednesday.

The full council was unfortunately too big to fit into the Cabinet room, which has hitherto been adequate for the executives presided over by Presidents Kgalema Motlanthe, Thabo Mbeki and Nelson Mandela, and had to be moved to the more commodious chamber of the Good Hope building, which oddly enough was where the President's Council used to meet in the bad old apartheid days.

The President's Council was established in the time of the tri-cameral Parliament to arbitrate between the different views of legislation which might be taken by the three elected chambers.

Members of the Zuma Cabinet were full of bonhomie and breakfast as they gathered in the chamber, their names on the desks before them. The man who seemed most out place was perhaps Pieter Mulder of the Freedom Front Plus, who wandered in a lonely way among the backslapping, until Gert Oosthuizen, deputy minister of Sport and Recreation greeted him.

Another deputy minister also attending his first cabinet meeting said he felt rather 'leery' about it all.

The man most at home seemed to be Trevor Manuel, the chair of the planning commission who has been in every Cabinet since 1994, and was busy apparently giving separate teach-ins to such newcomers as Blade Nzimande, the Higher Education Minister and Jeremy Cronin, the Deputy Minister for Transport.

Geoff Doidge reappointed at Public Works Minister said he was looking forward to getting on properly with the job he had been doing for the past six months. Buyelwa Sonjica was also looking forward to tackling her new responsibilities as the minister in charge of global warming. She has moved from causing it at Minerals and Energy, to curing it at Water Affairs and the Environment.