Johannesburg - In an effort to help solve the soaring unemployment rate and cut down on service delivery protests, President Jacob Zuma has established four new ministries.
During recent electioneering, the main message from voters to the ANC was job creation and improving access to water.
The new Water and Sanitation Ministry will be headed by former Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane. Nicknamed “Mama Action”, Mokonyane will be the face of the government’s service delivery.
She will have to ensure that services are dramatically improved so that the ruling party does not take a knock in the local government election.
Another woman, also known as a doer, is Lindiwe Zulu, who will head up the new Small Business Development Ministry.
Small businesses are seen as a catalyst to achieving economic growth and development.
In countries like Indonesia, which has a similar economy to South Africa, small businesses account for nearly 97 percent of employment.
Until now, the Trade and Industry Department had taken the lead in implementing policies to support the sector. But the initiatives aimed at growing and assisting small businesses have been fragmented, with poor results. It can take a year for a new small business to get a VAT number.
It is expected that the ministry will review whatever regulations need to be adapted to ease the burden on small businesses and allow for direct interaction with the government to improve growth.
There is bound to be mixed reaction to the ministry and to Zulu, who was Zuma’s international adviser and is in the president’s inner circle. Although her experience is vast in international relations, she does not have the requisite skills for the new ministry.
There will also be concern if the new ministry can support SMME growth, or just add to existing red tape.
Economist Iraj Abedian said on Sunday that small business was not about appointing new ministries.
“It’s about creating skills in the economy. If you don’t have the skills, there is no point in who will be in charge,” he added.
With Zulu’s lack of skills, she is going to need experienced departmental support. There will be pressure on her to find practical solutions quickly, instead of focusing only on changes that will have the desired long-term impact.
A Telecommunications and Postal Services Ministry will help the government take advantage of the booming industry. Zuma said on Sunday that in 2012, the sector was worth R180 billion.
The ministry will be headed by former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele, who is tasked with ensuring that financial services via the Post Office are delivered to remote areas.
The other new ministry is Women in the Presidency.
Zuma was criticised across the board for making seven of his eight premiers men.
It will be headed by former minerals minister Susan Shabangu, prioritising women development, which was previously combined with children and people living with disabilities.