Premier Helen Zille with new education MEC Debbie Schafer, left, and new sport MEC Nomafrench Mbombo. Picture: Peter Kruger

Cape Town -

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s new cabinet has been sworn in, paving the way for the 10-member team to tackle the challenges of poverty alleviation and unemployment.

Zille, sworn in for a second term, took her oath before her members of the executive council (MECs) in a crowded boardroom at the Western Cape legislature on Monday.

Pointing out that poverty and unemployment remained the province’s biggest challenges, she said: “Every single thing we do in South Africa must be to try to beat poverty and unemployment.”

Zille said her MECs all had a set plan for their departments, having aligned their portfolios to grow the economy and to create jobs.

“The benefit of having a second term is the benefit of continuity… We’ve largely been a cabinet that has a plan and every single portfolio has a plan that is now embedded in the budget,” she said.

Her cabinet would merely have to pick up where it had left off and continue doing the work it had been doing.

“You can take what works and continue doing it and adjust what does not work, but you have a depth of experience to know the difference.”

The cabinet would hold an immediate planning session.

“So I won’t, contrary to the reputation I have, be setting targets and outcomes for the first 100 days for everybody. We will be doing that together.”

Zille emphasised that her focus would be on “transversal aspects” of government.

“Transversal government means that you look at the budget and make sure that all of the projects identified as priorities within that broad goal are clustered together between ministers so they can jointly achieve objectives and not separately in silos.

This was an enormous challenge.

“It’s a challenge that national government hasn’t begun to meet and we are really driving it well and driving it forward. I hope that we will be the model for the rest of the country.”

Turning her attention to President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet, Zille said it did not inspire confidence.

“While the province has created a new ministry of economic opportunities bringing all of those threads together to drive economic growth, at national level we believe that economic policy will continue, but we are worried about the four different ministries that will be driving economic policy.”

However, Zille said she was thrilled to see Pravin Gordhan, former minister of finance, had been given the “critical portfolio” of co-operative governance. This ministry is also responsible for traditional affairs.

On the appointment of her former political adversary, the leader of the ANC opposition in the legislature, Lynne Brown, as minister of public enterprises, Zille said: “Ms Brown is a warm and pleasant person and I think she has been involved in many political struggles. I wish her all the best in her new portfolio.

“It’s a difficult portfolio, but I honestly think that Lynne Brown is very bright and very much up to the challenge.”

In the Western Cape, the issue with Brown had been mainly that the ANC was divided and she was so demoralised that it showed in her attendance in the House and in the role as she played as opposition leader.

“I think that now that she’s really challenged and has a major task to step up to she will do it well.”

[email protected]

Cape Argus