Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG - Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) on Tuesday welcomed the changes to the national executive announced on Monday night by newly appointed President Cyril Ramaphosa, but urged him to speedily review the size of his cabinet as promised.

BLSA applauded the return of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister, saying he was a familiar face and steady hand who boost investor confidence in South Africa.

“This long-awaited cabinet reshuffle is an important step in boosting confidence in the economy to restore growth and create jobs to attend to the challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment, especially among the youth,” BLSA CEO Bonang Mohale said.

“We now urge the president to speed up the process of reviewing the size and configuration of his cabinet and national departments so as to demonstrate his commitment to urgently needed austerity measures."

He said Nene's return as finance minister would allow him to continue the work he was performing  before his inexplicable, abrupt removal by former president Jacob Zuma in December 2015, which triggered a run on the rand.

BLSA also applauded the re-appointment of Pravin Gordhan into government, as public enterprises mininster.

"State-owned enterprises have become an albatross around the neck of our fiscus. His appointment will strengthen government’s hand in dealing with state capture and corruption, and most importantly, it will facilitate the efforts to address the governance, leadership and capital structures of the SOEs,” said Mohale.

BLSA commended President Ramaphosa for swiftly removing ministers implicated in serious allegations of state capture and other forms of wrongdoing. These included Mosebenzi Zwane (mineral resources), Des van Rooyen (cooperative governance and traditional affairs), Lynne
Brown (public enterprises), Faith Muthambi (public administration), Nathi Nhleko (public works) and Bongani Bongo (state security).

The lobby group said it hoped the appointment of ruling ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe to head the mines ministry would help position the industry to take advantage of the next upswing in commodity prices.

"“Although he has no direct experience in government, Mantashe has an intimate knowledge of the mining sector and is an astute negotiator – two attributes that are critical to resolving the current impasse around the formulation of the mining charter," said Mohale.

BLSA noted that some ministers who faced allegations of wrongdoing and serious mismanagement had been moved to other positions supposedly to unite the ruling party.

“We believe the bulk of the appointments are justified, and will help the President to make good on the ambitious but achievable plans announced in his state of the nation (address)," Mohale said.

"In BLSA, the new administration will find a willing, capable partner in the project to pull our economy back from the brink of fiscal, state capture and confidence crisis. In due course, we will be making proposals on an emergency recovery plan to the new administration."

African News Agency/ANA