Analysis of new appointments to Cabinet of 2014

Dr Pieter Mulder

From an analysis of the new appointments to Cabinet it appears that president Zuma has rewarded loyalty and moved opponents out. Furthermore he has tried to appease Cosatu and the SACP with quite a number of appointments from their ranks in order to retain the Tri-Partite Alliance’s unity. The president has furthermore undertaken that a more radical phase of socio-economic transformation will now follow, which is in reaction to the EFF’s economic rhetoric. This explains certain appointments and does not bode anything well for future economic growth and foreign investment.

Paul Mashatile, who as minister and Gauteng leader had sided with Tokyo Sexwale against president Zuma, has lost his post. In similar manner, Max Sisulu as Speaker, has lost his position and did not get a Cabinet position. Sisulu had on the insistence of, amongst others, the Freedom Front Plus appointed a parliamentary ad hoc committee on Nkandla shortly before the election. Buti Manamela and Luwellyn Llanders and Faith Muthambi were the ANC leaders on that committee who saw to it that the committee, and in so doing the Nkandla report on Zuma, were wiped from the table. All three these members’ loyalty have been rewarded with new appointments.

The South African Communist Party’s senior leadership consists of Blade Nzimande, secretary general; Jeremy Cronin, deputy secretary general; Senzeni Zokwana, national chairperson; Thulas Nxesi, deputy national chairperson and Buti Manamela, youth leader.

With the appointment of Zokwana as minister of labour and Manamela as deputy minister, all of these SACP members are now in prominent government positions. Members of the SACP’s central committee, who are also ministers or deputy ministers, are Rob Davies, Jeff Radebe and Godfrey Oliphant.

In addition to the prominent SACP members in Cabinet, Rob Davies as SACP member is the minister of trade and industry with minister Ebrahim Patel from Cosatu as minister of economic affairs. All of this confirms an ideological shift to the left in Cabinet which correlates with the president’s comments that a more radical phase of socio-economic transformation will now follow. Against this background it is a huge mistake and it sends a totally wrong message to the financial sector and the international community to move minister Pravin Gordhan away from finances.

The establishment of an extended propaganda ministry under which state intelligence and the SABC will resort, does not bode well for the future. During this election we have already had to deal with large scale abuse of state funds and facilities in an effort to promote the ANC as a political party. With such a ministry, less disestablishment between the state and the ANC should be expected – especially because forthwith the SABC will resort under this department. This move will without a doubt largely infringe upon the independence of the SABC.

The new minister of agriculture is Senzeni Zokwana. Apart from the fact that he is the national chairperson of the SACP, he was also until recently the president of the NUM. The new deputy minister of agriculture is the controversial Bheki Cele. Cele was chief of police from July 2009 but was suspended in October 2011 following which he was fired in June 2012. The latest report of the Public Protector into Nkandla had provisionally found that Cele did not prevent money from being irregularly wasted with the construction of Nkandla.

It is hoped that the new ministers will realise the importance of agriculture for food security and for future political stability and will not use agriculture and commercial farmers as ideological punching bags, as was the case in the past.

The appointment of Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy president and Aaron Motsoaledi as the minister of health are welcomed. With Ramaphosa’s appointment as deputy president, Zuma puts him in line to become the next president. This is positive as there were many rumours that the president wanted to prevent Ramaphosa from succeeding him with the appointment of a second deputy president. The huge task will now rest on the shoulders of Mr. Ramaphosa to implement the NDP in opposition to the resistance of the SACP and Cosatu members in Cabinet.

It is extraordinary that so many changes have been made to the Cabinet when it is taken into account that president Zuma had in the past five years numerous times shuffled his Cabinet to suite him. The impression is that only confidantes, loyalists and imitators have been appointed with no room for inside-criticism and contradictors. Where in 2009 there was still talk of reconciliation by reaching out to other political parties, there is no chance of this with regard to the 2014 Cabinet. The heavy hand of Gwede Mantashe, member of the SACP’s central committee and ANC secretary general can be seen in many of the appointments. It points to President Zuma no longer being solely in control, as he had hoped.