Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma's newly-announced Cabinet was largely welcomed on Sunday as being able to drive socio-economic transformation forward, but the official opposition was decidedly less excited about the prospects.
The African National Congress believed the choice of leaders was balanced and experienced.
"It is our belief that the Cabinet, as announced, espouses the qualities necessary for the task ahead, guided by the National Development Plan, to decisively confront unemployment, poverty, and inequality in an equitable and accountable manner," said ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe.
'Bold and decisive'
He said the ANC welcomed the "bold and decisive" step by Zuma to re-organise and re-focus government departments.
"We believe that these changes will lead to greater cost effectiveness and more effective monitoring of the work of government. The number of government ministries has not increased as a result."
Mantashe congratulated the new Cabinet and reminded them that they dare not disappoint citizens who had entrusted them with the power.
"Now is the time to pool our collective energies to the task at hand to create a South Africa that is even better than it is today," he said.
"We have full confidence in the ability of our public representatives to fulfil the commitment made by President Zuma that the fifth democratically elected administration will serve our people with humility, commitment, and dedication."
Fellow tripartite alliance member, the SA Communist Party, also welcomed and congratulated the new appointees.
SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said the fifth administration should drive polices for radical socio-economic transformation and development, as stated by Zuma in his inaugural address on Saturday.
"This is incompatible with neoliberalism. The SACP therefore says, one of the critical conditions for our second radical phase of democratic transition to succeed is to do away with all the remnants of neoliberalism in our state."
A less enthusiastic Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said the new Cabinet left citizens with little hope that the country's problems would be effectively tackled.
"President Jacob Zuma's announcement of his new Cabinet does not inspire confidence that South Africa's major challenges - weak economic growth, unemployment, and corruption - will be tackled effectively in the president's second term."
Zille welcomed two announcements - the re-appointment of Aaron Motsoaledi as health minister and Angie Motshekga as basic education minister to ensure continuity in Cabinet.
But, the retention of other ministers, or their move to other important portfolios, did not bode well, she said.
These included Thulas Nxesi, who stays on as public works minister, and Mildred Oliphant who retains her position as labour minister.
"In particular, the move of Tina Joemat-Pettersson to the department of energy is lamentable," Zille said.
"Ms Joemat-Pettersson performed very poorly as minister of agriculture, and does not deserve to serve in the executive."
ANC's internal political problems
Zuma's decision to expand his Cabinet was also labelled a bad move.
"What the government needs is a leaner, more effective administration, not an ever growing executive," Zille said.
"It is clear that these new positions have little to do with efficiency, and everything to do with solving the ANC's internal political problems at public expense."
Moving former finance minister Pravin Gordhan to co-operative governance and traditional affairs would negatively affect international investor confidence.
"We hope that over the coming years [new finance] minister Nhlanhla Nene will prove that he can get rising government debt levels under control and that he can instil a sense of fiscal discipline that has been lacking in recent years," Zille said.
"We hope that minister Gordhan will bring his trademark efficiency to the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs, which has underperformed for several years."
The National Union of Mineworkers especially welcomed the appointment of a former NUM president.
"[The] NUM congratulates... its former president Senzeni Zokwana for being appointed as minister of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries by President Jacob Zuma," the union said.
"This is in line with swelling the ranks of the ANC which is a Cosatu congress resolution."
People Against Suffering, Oppression, and Poverty (Passop) dedicated their statement to praising the appointment of Malusi Gigaba to home affairs. Gigaba previously headed public enterprises and was a deputy home affairs minister before that.
"It is also clear that when he was involved in home affairs he left behind him a reputation as an extremely hard worker, who the departmental staff looked up to," Passop community outreach officer Anthony Muteti said.
"He has, in our previous interactions, shown a deep sense of humility and understanding, both for South Africans and immigrants, who the department services."
Passop said Gigaba's appointment showed that Zuma took home affairs seriously.
He hoped that Gigaba would manage migration correctly, document more people, weed out corruption, and deliver identity books to every citizen.
The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) welcomed the opportunity to work with minister Jeff Radebe and deputy minister Buti Manamela in the performance, monitoring, and evaluation ministry within the presidency.
This, after Zuma announced the ministry would continue to be responsible for youth development.
"The president could not have chosen a better executive for matters of youth development - well-experienced, dynamic, and passionate," said NYDA executive chair Yershen Pillay.
"Young people should watch this space; this government is serious about youth development."
He said Manamela, as the Young Communist League of SA (YCLSA) national secretary and ANC MP, had always been passionate and highly committed to improving the lives of young people.
The YCLSA said it was humbled by Manamela's appointment.
"We would like to wish him, the entire Cabinet and deputy ministers well in the tasks that lie ahead.
The NYDA also welcomed the establishment of the small business development ministry, to be headed by Lindiwe Zulu.
"We are jubilant about the new ministry that will assist the growth and development of small businesses and we are confident that young South Africans will benefit the most from such a ministry," Pillay said.
EFF concerned about costs
The Economic Freedom Fighters national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said the party was deeply concerned about the costs associated with the new cabinet.
He said the average expenditure on each minister and deputy for their cars, both houses in Pretoria and Cape Town, the protection services and transport exceeded R10m.
"This means almost a billion is spent on this permanent government mass meeting of ministers before we can even think of core functions and programmes that change lives."
"It seems that President Zuma has taken a decision to award his loyalists with government positions, to prioritise giving them jobs as opposed to radical economic transformation which he committed to in his inaugural address."
The party however welcomed the appointment of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister. Nene, the former deputy finance minister, replaced Gordhan.
"This is for the first time ever, that a black African has been appointed to that position and it is against the backdrop of racist attitudes that have sentenced Africans as incapable of dealing with finance," Ndlozi said.
"The move must be welcomed and indeed applauded."
Gordhan moved to critical post
Business Unity South Africa's (BUSA) acting CEO Cas Coovadia said the organisation was disappointed that Gordhan was no longer finance minister.
"...but we welcome the appointment of Minister Nene, who has proven himself a very competent, pragmatic and consistent person. These are critical qualities for the position of minister of finance, and we look forward to working with him."
Coovadia said Gordhan was moved to a critical post.
"The sustainable growth and development of municipalities is critical to growth and service delivery, and Minister Gordhan's experience and discipline will be excellent in this ministry."
Busa was however concerned with the co-ordination in economic policy.
"We remain convinced the separation of economic development from trade and investment is inappropriate. The retention of both ministries will lead to further lack of co-ordination," Coovadia said.
He said the creation of a small business development ministry, to be headed by Zulu, could focus attention on the critical sector.
"...But we need to focus on getting rid of the problems we all know are plaguing this area. These include red tape, managerial and administrative knowledge of running a business and finance.
"We believe Minister Lindiwe Zulu is a competent person who will make a difference in this area."