Johannesburg - Former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) president Senzeni Zokwana, quite inconspicuous in his 14 year term at the helm of the union, steps into a minefield with his appointment as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister.
It was on his watch that the new kid on the block, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), ate up NUM’s membership in the platinum belt, leaving the union to watch on the sidelines as Amcu launched the longest strike since 1922’s Rand Revolt.
The most outstanding issue he has to deal with is in fisheries, which eagerly awaits effective state intervention.
Zokwana’s predecessor, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, announced a fortnight ago the suspension of the 2013 fishing rights allocation and ordered that, pending a review, those with existing rights would continue to exercise these rights, while former rights holders who lost out could apply for an exemption to continue fishing.
“Union presidents are less conspicious than secretary-generals, so they tend to slip under the radar,” said Johnny Goldberg, the chief executive of Global Business Solutions.
Others felt Zokwana also got off lightly when he appeared before the Farlam Commission probing the death of 34 miners in August 2012 in Marikana.
Under cross-examination by Dali Mpofu representing the miners, Zokwana’s saving grace was reported to be his ability to give long, expansive answers and Mpofu’s laxity in pinning him down on crucial aspects.
Zokwana joined the NUM in 1983. He became a shaft steward in 1984. He was elected president of the union in 2000, a position he kept until his deployment to Parliament.
Zokwana’s deputy minister will be Bheki Cele, the former commissioner of police fired by President Jacob Zuma in the wake of procurement scandals at police buildings in Pretoria. - Business Report