Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to “clean up” government and bring much-needed renewal and change to his Cabinet, South Africa has been left with an Executive negotiated between factions at Luthuli House.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is committed to working with the members of the Executive who put the needs of South Africans above the needs of the ANC, and provide guidance in areas we have expert knowledge and proven governance track record in.
We are encouraged by some of the appointments to President Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet:
- Minster of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor:
Her proven negotiation skills to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in South Africa will be valuable in her new role. Minister Pandor has been an efficient administrator and has, to date, remained free of corruption scandals. She will have to work fearlessly to ensure that we return to a foreign policy that based on human rights and economic opportunity.
- Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni:
With a declining growth rate, increasing unemployment levels and an impending credit ratings downgrade, Minister Mboweni’s reappointment brings stability which we hope will revitalise waning investor confidence. Minister Mboweni has shown appetite to cut down on bailouts for failing SOEs and to tackle rising debt. He will, however, face an uphill battle from within the ruling party. He will only succeed with the required political backing.
- Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu:
Minister Mthembu is a valuable addition to the Cabinet. He was a respectable Chief Whip of the ANC in Parliament and had a consultative approach to key issues. This is a key quality in this ministerial position and Mthembu has the capacity to give President Ramaphosa honest advice and to bring change.
There are, however, many concerning appointments that do not bode well for South Africa:
- Minister of Women and Youth, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane:
As then Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, she unlawfully granted diplomatic immunity to Grace Mugabe after allegedly assaulting model, Gabriella Engels. Minister Nkoana-Mashabane has also been accused of failing to keep adequate records on hundreds of thousands of departmental assets; using airforce bases to transport family members, and abusing public funds for travel for herself and members of her entourage.
- Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula:
As then Minister of Correctional Services she faces allegations of presiding over the awarding of tenders worth more than R1.7 billion to tainted Bosasa. Minister Mapisa-Nqakula also allegedly disseminated classified information, such as maps and aviation charts of the Waterkloof Air Force Base, in contravention of the Defence Act, to the Gupta family over insecure email systems.
- Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande:
Has no proven achievements during his tenure of eight years at the helm of the Higher Education Department and was utterly ineffective during the Fees Must Fall protests in 2015. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme also lurched from one crisis to the next, with very little effective intervention from Minister Nzimande, putting the futures of students on the line. At both the Departments of Higher Education and Transport, the Minister has been accused of cronyism by appointing several allies allegedly in contravention of the Ministerial Handbook.
- Minister of Public Works, Patricia De Lille:
Minister de Lille still needs to answer for allegedly unduly influencing the process of appointing a new Cape Town City Manager by sending an SMS to a member of the Selection Panel stating: “I want to keep Achmat (Ibrahim) so score him highest. Thanks”, while she was still Cape Town Mayor. In 2015, a forensic investigation uncovered serious allegations of misconduct on the part of the Commissioner of the Transport and Urban Development Authority, Melissa Whitehead, concerning payments made to the bus company Volvo. The City Manager, allegedly acting on Minister de Lille’s instructions, did not table the report before the Committee, so that action could be taken.
- Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu:
The Minister faces allegations of wasteful expenditure due to her love for luxury spending at the taxpayer’s expense‚ coupled with poor or more accurately, no performance, at the Department of Small Business Development. This raises questions on her ability to lead the Department of Social Development which has been hamstrung by corruption and wasteful and irregular expenditure.
- Minister of Labour, Thulas Nxesi:
The Nkandla scandal took place during his tenure as Minister of Public Works. He moved to exonerate former President Jacob Zuma from the scandal involving spending at his Nkandla homestead, by saying the President did not ask for the upgrades nor was he briefed on any of the costs involved.
As we grapple with the consequences of decades of State Capture, which may yet push our country over the edge, South Africa deserves Ministers who above reproach. Unfortunately, these ministers are not.
South Africa needs women and men in Cabinet who realise that the title “Minister” is about serving the best interests of the people and not a status symbol. As the main opposition, the DA will ensure these Ministers work hard to get their departments back on track to work for the betterment of our country.
Trimming the fat:
The President had previously committed himself to a leaner Cabinet. While we welcome the reduction in the number of Ministers, cutting 7 ministries can hardly be considered trimming the fat. In fact, the Ministers, their Deputies, their luxury vehicles and the cost of VIP security will cost the people of South Africa more than R1 billion per year. It is hard to believe that the return on investment will be of value.
Each Minister is paid approximately R2.4 million a year, with an additional R600 000 for a new private car, and an allocation of R3.3 million for two more official vehicles. This means that each Minister is afforded almost R4 million for 3 new vehicles.
As it stands, when the budget allocated for VIP protection is divided by the number of members it protected under the previous Executive, approximately R10 million is spent per individual. This means that VIP protection for Ramaphosa’s new cabinet may cost taxpayers R631 million.
This is unacceptable in a country where half of young South Africans cannot find a job. The DA, therefore, reiterates our call for VIP protection for executives to be slashed.
The DA maintains that Cabinet should be reduced to 15 ministries. A leaner, efficient and service-orientated government can focus its efforts on delivering services and creating an environment for economic growth and job creation. We will engage with President Ramaphosa about how this can best be achieved and outline its impact on efficient service delivery.
The new Cabinet has a tough task ahead to get the country working and on track to economic growth and development which puts a job in every home. It is therefore vital that President Ramaphosa and his Cabinet, prioritise the following key areas:
Jobs and the economy
- Restructure Eskom immediately, and address mismanagement at SOEs.
- Provide policy certainty, and ensure that all property rights will be protected.
- Protect the independence of the SARB and restore institutional strength at SARS.
- Remove unnecessary red tape hobbling SMMEs.
- Focus on infrastructure, service delivery and governance at local government level, which is currently adversely impacting businesses and new investment.
- A capable state to get to work and create a conducive environment to grow the economy and create jobs.
- Introduce a National Civilian Service, as proposed by the DA, for young people seeking work experience in certain fields.
- Shelve the proposed National Health Insurance Bill (NHI) as it has the potential to tank the economy and create a giant parastatal that will effectively nationalise public health services.
- Upgrade compromised infrastructure at countless hospitals and clinics which are falling apart and streamline operations of new facilities which are being delayed by maladministration and corruption.
- Appoint more doctors and nurses. As a country, we have a critical shortage of doctors and nurses, yet many trained professionals are without a job.
- Replacing the impracticable NHI, with Our Health Plan. This plan is tried and tested, and the most credible and workable offer, as it will ensure that no South African is denied quality health care because they are poor.
- School sanitation needs to be addressed as we are facing a profound school sanitation crisis, which the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, admitted is one of her department’s greatest failings.
- The public education system requires teachers who are properly assessed, trained and incentivised so that our children get the best education, are innovative and have the skills they need to get a job.
- Decisively dealing with SADTU and releasing its stranglehold on basic education, something which Minister Motshekga has failed to do, to the detriment of learners in the public education system.
- Appoint more police officers to bridge the gap in police-to-population ratios, especially in neglected areas such as Soweto and Nyanga
- Establish key specialised units and properly capacitate them, starting with rural safety units – especially in the light of the spate of horrible farm attacks in the last two weeks – as well as anti-gang/drug units for the Cape Flats and the northern areas of NMB.
- Invest in properly trained and capacitated Crime Intelligence – if crime intelligence doesn’t work, SAPS doesn’t work. Effective intelligence is vital to preventing and solving crimes.
- Speeding up the provision of basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity.
- Rooting out housing contract corruption, poor quality and incomplete housing projects.
- Protecting social grants recipients from illegal deductions and muggings and other criminal elements at paypoints.
- Taking strong action against those who are found guilty of corruption.
- Ensure the independence of the NPA and the Hawks.
- Lifestyle audits senior public office bearers and government officials .
The DA welcomes the introduction of performance agreements for the new Cabinet. However, these agreements can only be effective if they are adhered to. In addition to these performance agreements, we call on President Ramaphosa to institute lifestyle audits for all members of the Executive. The South African public needs assurance that the public coffers will not be ransacked by greedy politicians.
The DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, will be announcing his new Shadow Cabinet in the coming days. These leaders will be the best people to hold their counterparts in government to account and are completely committed to the project of building One South Africa for All.
We take our role as the Official Opposition seriously not only for those who voted for us but for all South Africans who rely on us to make sure the Executive carry out their mandate to serve the people.
The DA looks forward to working with President Ramaphosa and those in his Cabinet who dedicate themselves to serve in the best interest of the people of South Africa.
However, when it comes to the people of South Africa and their futures, we will not shy away from holding the Executive to account.