Opposition warns on new Cabinet

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Jacob Zuma is sworn in at the presidential inauguration at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Saturday. Picture: Elmond Jiyane

Cape Town - While the ANC has hailed President Jacob Zuma's newly announced Cabinet as balanced and experienced, opposition parties on Monday criticised new appointments to the economic cluster and agriculture portfolios.

“President Jacob Zuma's appointments of the ministers in the economic cluster show that he is more interested in creating and keeping jobs for his friends than he is committed to creating job opportunities for South Africans,” the Democratic Alliance said in a statement.

DA spokesman David Ross said the creation of a new small business development ministry was unnecessary, and added to a “bloated” economics cluster struggling to effectively co-ordinate job creation.

Support for small business would have been better served by streamlining existing government departments, cutting red tape, reviewing existing legislation to minimise compliance costs, and making it easier for small businesses to access government contracts.

“Making matters worse, President Zuma has unfortunately chosen to retain leftist (trade and industry) minister Rob Davies, the ineffectual (labour) minister Mildred Oliphant, and the redundant (economic development) minister Ebrahim Patel as members of his Cabinet,” Ross said.

It was astonishing that Oliphant had retained her job “given her poor management of the ongoing labour unrest in the platinum belt”.

Ross said Zuma had “failed to appoint an economic cluster able to formulate coherent economic policy and stimulate job creation”.

The Freedom Front Plus said the appointment of Bheki Cele as deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries was “an insult to the agricultural community”.

FF Plus chairman Pieter Groenewald said in a statement that Cele had been removed as national police commissioner in 2012 “due to maladministration and corruption”, and was therefore not suitable for any executive position.

“(But) the ANC views him as good enough for agriculture, which has to provide food for South Africa in an honourable manner,” he said.

The post of deputy agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister was formerly held by FF Plus leader Pieter Mulder.

In a separate statement on Monday, Mulder described the removal of Pravin Gordhan from the finance portfolio as a “huge mistake”, and warned of a “more radical phase of... socio-economic transformation” to follow.

“(It) is a huge mistake and it is sending out a totally wrong signal to the financial sector to remove the dependable... Pravin Gordhan from the portfolio of finance minister,” he said.

The agriculture organisation TAU SA said the sector had reason to be “deeply concerned” about the appointment of Senzeni Zokwana as agriculture minister.

“He is a former president of the National Union of Mineworkers and was a national chairman of the SA Communist Party. Globally, communists only caused disaster and calamity for agriculture, and President Zuma (has) set the stage for similar calamity with this appointment,” it said in a statement.

The Treatment Action Campaign welcomed the retention of Aaron Motsoaledi as health minister.

The organisation said this signalled a seriousness by the ruling party to effectively deal with the problems in the health care system and improve the lives of all in South Africa”

The ANC Youth League welcomed the new Cabinet.

“We find this Cabinet to be well-structured and have a sizeable number of committed workaholics who will help the president in fulfilling the commitments we have made while campaigning in the 2014 national and provincial elections,” it said in a statement.

The SA Policing Union welcomed the appointment of new police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko.

“His appointment is a huge sigh of relief to thousands of dedicated and committed police officers who were missing a visionary and capable political leadership in the past five years. The redeployment of Nathi Mthethwa has long been overdue,” it said in a statement.

On Sunday, following the announcement of the new Cabinet, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe described it as 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,” he said in a statement at the time.

Fellow tripartite alliance member, the SA Communist Party, also welcomed and congratulated the new appointees.

Sapa


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