Zuma performs ‘a juggling act’

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President Jacob Zuma announces his new cabinet. There is nothing in Zumas cabinet appointments, nor in his inauguration speech, to indicate he is aware of the economic perils that lie ahead, says the writer. File picture: Elmond Jiyane

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet appointments were “a juggling act” aimed at balancing political and public expectations as well as addressing demands from the ANC’s alliance partners.

“This is a cabinet appointed by a great deal of horse trading across the alliance,” said Professor Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy.

The demotion of Nathi Mthethwa from police to arts and culture minister, was an effort to deal with the damaging impact of the police action at Marikana miners, and the R215 million security upgrades at Zuma’s Nkandla estate, while Siyabonga Cwele’s move from state security to telecommunications followed the public criticism of the Protection of State Information Bill, dubbed the Secrecy Bill, that he piloted through Parliament.

“The message is: ‘We are listening to public opinion’,” said Friedman.

He added, however, that the size of cabinet, and number of deputy ministers, was a concern: “It’s a lot easier to balance factions if you create 50 jobs”.

The major losers were in the security cluster where

only Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula remained.

Wits University Graduate School of Public and Development Management Professor Susan Booysen said the appointment of Jeff Radebe, the only cabinet minister to serve since 1994, as sole Minister in the Presidency in charge of planning, performance monitoring and evaluation, created a key axis. “Whether the Zuma-Radebe alliance can bring together more than the sum of the parts remains to be seen,” she said.

Newly-appointed co-operative governance minister Pravin Gordhan’s move from finance is seen as cleaning up a dysfunctional ministry in the face of increasing numbers of protests against slow service delivery with less than two years to go to the 2016 local government elections.

Nhlanhla Nene’s appointment as finance minister was met with some caution.

Friedman said questions arose over the message of moving Gordhan, who had enjoyed “a fair amount of business confidence” in favour of a minister who was “unproven”.

And Peter Attard Montalto, Nomura’s emerging markets economist, said “Him (Gordhan) leaving like this does send an odd signal on policy”, adding concerns also arose over the exclusion of Yunus Carrim, the previous communication minister.

“For the telcoms industry there will be concern (about) a move likely to be seen as an increasing politicisation of the space,” he added.

ANC secretary-eneral Gwede Mantashe said the party welcomed the “bold and decisive” step by Zuma to reorganise and refocus government departments.

But DA leader Helen Zille said the new cabinet left citizens with little hope that the country’s problems would be effectively tackled.

She 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.

Analysts point to juggling act in Zuma moves

Cape Argus


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