By Abdul Waheed Patel and Muhammad Khalid Sayed
Addressing a media conference at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on 12 June 2012, President Jacob announced an unexpected cabinet reshuffle – the third of its kind in as many years since the term of the current government commenced. A number of existing cabinet ministers and deputy ministers were reallocated to alternative portfolios and the appointment of a number of members of Parliament as deputy ministers. In this feature we provide a deeper analysis of the impact and implications of each appointment.
Minister of Public Service and Administration (Dr. Lindiwe Nonceba Sisulu)
Since her election to Parliament in 1994, Dr. Sisulu has developed a broad grounding in administering state affairs dealing with the sovereignty of the Republic under different ANC-led administrations. Analysts have argued that Dr. Sisulu’s redeployment as Minister of Public Service and Administration is somewhat of a demotion from Defence, arguing that she has been demoted because she is not in the so-called Zuma-camp and she has not made the President privy to key defence issues. It has also been argued that she was averse to engaging critically with Parliament, particularly with the opposition. The DA’s spokesperson on Defence, David Maynier in fact welcomed her redeployment away from Defence. Whilst this may well be the case, in as far as the function of Minister of Public Service and Administration is concerned in the context of current wage disputes and negotiations involving workers belonging to the ANC’s ally, COSATU, her redeployment may well strengthen the functioning of the Department of Public Service and Administration. In all her portfolios, Dr. Sisulu has been a firm negotiator, having dealt somewhat successfully with the unions when she was Minister of Defence. Whilst she was less successful in heading functions that roll out frontline services such as Home Affairs and Housing, she has displayed a considerable amount of strength in providing political leadership to departments such as Defence which ensure the sovereignty of the State and have a key regulatory function. This will stand her in good stead as Minister of Public Service and Administration, which has a significant role in regulating the dispensation governing the public service.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans (Ms. Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula)
Given Nqakula’s experience as a Member of Parliament in the Intelligence and Defence Committees, her military experience inside of MK, and her previously held roles as Minister of Home Affairs and Correctional Services which are in Cabinet’s Security Cluster, she will adjust quite well to being the political head of the Department of Defence and Military Veterans, which falls within Government’s Governance and Security Cluster. Furthermore as Minister of Correctional Services she often had a good reputation with opposition MPs in terms of engaging the National Assembly Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services directly. Therefore her appointment may well be welcomed by members of the Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, who have had a somewhat strenuous relationship with the previous minister. Given her clear support for President Jacob Zuma within the NEC of the ANC and the fact that her husband, Mr. Charles Nqakula is President Zuma’s political advisor in the Presidency, it is believed that she will ensure that the President plays a much more direct role in key security issues relating to the department than was the case under her predecessor.
Minister of Transport (Mr. Benedict Martins)
Mr. Martins’ promotion from the Deputy Ministry of Public Enterprises will most certainly bring much public enterprise experience into the Transport Ministry. Transport has a key a public enterprise element, particularly in terms of South African Airways and Transnet. Martins’ experience will come to the fore in context of the infrastructure drive and the role which the Department of Transport will need to play in terms of the policy and regulatory framework. Whilst many analysts have erroneously viewed his appointment as a reward on the part of Zuma to the SACP, it is important to view this appointment within the context of the balance of Cabinet. Not only was it somewhat imbalanced for a senior leader within the alliance and lawmaker like Martins to serve as a Deputy to the youthful Gigaba, it was also somewhat of a waste to have had a person serve as Deputy Minister when his experience and capabilities prove that he should be leading a department, especially when the current Minister of Public Enterprises is playing a good role as Minister.
Minister of Correctional Services (Mr. Joel Sibusiso Ndebele)
Many in the media have argued that his redeployment from Minister of Transport to Minister of Correctional Services is a demotion, as punishment for his handling of the controversial e-tolling saga. It must however be noted that the challenges which Government has faced around e-tolling is not due to Minister Ndebele alone. The e-tolling decision was made by Cabinet and the funding arrangements concluded by the National Treasury under the Minister of Finance. His redeployment should be seen in light of the balance of the Cabinet, given the experience of Minister Ben Martins which was utilised purely as a Deputy Minister. Furthermore given that Transport has a major law enforcement element, Ndebele’s redeployment to Correctional Services may well have a positive impact on the political functioning of the Department of Correctional Services.
Deputy Ministerial appointments
Deputy Minister of Public Works (Mr. Jeremy Cronin)
Media analysts have attributed his redeployment as Deputy Minister of Public Works to Zuma’s desire to protect the SACP from any embarrassment around the e-tolling, given the SACP’s opposition to it. This is however far from accurate in that the new Minister of Transport, Ben Martins is also a senior SACP leader. The decision to move Cronin to Public Works should be viewed in light of his strong skills. Given the problems which the Minister of Public Works has noted regarding the Department, it is important for the revival and functioning of the Department in light of the infrastructure drive for the Minister to be supported by a strong Deputy Minister.
Deputy Minister of Economic Development (Prof. Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize)
Given the length of time during which the Department of Economic Development has not had a Deputy Minister as well as the reportedly tenuous relationship between Minister Ebrahim Patel and his former Deputy Enoch Godongwana who was Patel’s senior within the ruling party, Prof. Mkhize’s appointment will most certainly strengthen the political buy-in and support for the Department’s political leadership. Notwithstanding her rank inside of the ANC Womens League, the fact that she is junior within the alliance to Patel may also help in terms of the working relationship. Based on her vast NGO experience Prof. Mkhize may well balance the focus of the New Growth Path (NGP) in as far as placing it within a context of grassroots and women’s development is concerned. Her experience as the country’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and her membership on International Criminal Court (ICC) and United Nations (UN) bodies may well have given her a good grasp of international trade issues, adding another dimension to the political leadership of the Department of Economic Development. Her brief experience gained in the Ministry of Higher Education bodes well for the Department’s work with Higher Education regarding the Skills Accord and skills development as a key component of the New Growth Path. As Deputy Minister of Higher Education she engaged extensively with the Minister of Economic Development on the role of the Department of Higher Education in the drafting and implementing the Skills Accord and on broader issues of skills development in the context of the New Growth Path. Her knowledge of New Growth Path’s policy dynamics is therefore extensive.
Deputy Minister of Transport (Ms. Sindisiwe Chikungu)
Whilst her appointment as Deputy Minister of Transport is most likely both recognition of her thorough work in conducting oversight and at the same time may reduce the level the accountability which the Ministry of Police has to Parliament’s Police Committee, Chikungu is likely to drive the efficient running of the Department of Transport due to her stringent oversight role as a lawmaker. Her recent role as a vociferous lawmaker in holding the ANC-led Government’s Police to account will also place her well with regards to relating to, engaging with, and responding to critique of the Department of Transport levelled by members of Parliament.
Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises (Mr. Bulelani Gratitude Magwanishe)
Magwanishe’s grounding as an ANCYL member and his previous good working relationship under the Minister of Public Enterprise, Malusi Cigaba within the League structures creates the conditions for Magwanishe to complement Cigaba as his junior in leading the Department. In addition to this however, Magwanisha’s experience as a lawmaker in key Parliamentary Committees that dealt with Parliamentary procedures governing members’ space for advocacy, ensures that he brings with him to the Department a solid working understanding of the Parliamentary processes of oversight and advocacy. This also means that he may be sympathetic to the type of lobbying and advocacy with the Ministry of Public Enterprises within the context of the relationship between State Owned Enterprises and Government’s infrastructure drive.
Deputy Minister of Higher Education (Mr. Mduduzi Comfort Manana)
Whilst many in the media as well as in the SASCO ranks have restricted the rationale around Manana’s appointment as a reward on the part of Zuma for Manana breaking rank with the League on its decision to the defy to ANC’s Disciplinary process once it has been exhausted, we must note that Manana does bring in a new much needed dimension into the Ministry of Higher Education. Given his youth and most importantly experience inside of student politics at tertiary institutions, Manana is well placed to relate to the current concerns of disadvantaged students at tertiary institutions. The fact that he constantly addresses student rallies at tertiary institutions and engages directly with students may well ensure that students can relate to him when they have concerns and when the Department requires student buy in on policy and legislative matters. As both a student and ANCYL leader Manana is known for his passion around policy issues dealing with higher education. As a member of the ANCYL’s NEC he has often been an outspoken critic of the performance of the Department of Higher Education at times.
Patel is Managing Director and Sayed Senior Advisor (Parliamentary, Governmental and Political Affairs) at ETHICORE.