National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has declared equity shares totalling about R27 million. Picture: Bongiwe Mchunu

Cape Town - The creation of a small and medium enterprises department is very likely, African National Congress national chairwoman Baleka Mbete said on Thursday.

“We are talking about a focused department looking at small and medium businesses because the departments must be about addressing specific challenges in society,” she told reporters in Cape Town.

She said a space needed to be created where local businesses were assisted, co-operatives were created or strengthened, and government was encouraged to buy from local producers.

“We know that in spite of having a trade and industry department for all these years... they have been unable to pay enough attention to small businesses on the ground.”

Mbete said no final decisions had yet been made on which departments would be cut, but there was no preoccupation regarding an ideal number of departments that government should have overall.

“One thing I can tell you is we are not increasing... We will come back when we've finalised which those will be because at this point we all have a different understanding of what's happening and where we didn't do very well.”

She said that where departments were serving “less than a good purpose”, they would consider “folding them up”, or re-configuring them by moving certain directories to other portfolios.

“I mean, there's one 1/8department 3/8 that I am very clear about that when we get into that discussion, I think we should get rid of because it has only brought us headaches over time and I am not going to ask you to guess.”

Mbete said the relatively new rural development and land reform department was definitely not being removed because it addressed some of the party's priorities.

The ANC remained flexible and open-minded to the departmental discussion.