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The biggest cabinet reshuffle since 1994

by Nancy Msibi
In May this year, President Jacob Zuma introduced a system of signing performance agreements with Ministers. On 31st October the results of that process were visible to all when he had a major cabinet reshuffle-when 7 ministers were replaced and 12 new deputy ministers were appointed. Is this move a sign for change within the ANC?

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According to the ANC the reshuffle came about in order to speed up service delivery however , it seems with some individuals it was as a result of other factors like avoiding tensions in some ministries, dealing with corruption etc. However the one thing that came out strongly is that for the first time it’s clear that Zuma doesn’t care too much about loyalties like he used to. For instance, Gen.Simphiwe Nyanda, who was the Minister of Communications is part of Zuma’s inner circle and he is counted amongst the people that made Zuma win in Polokwane in 2007, becoming the President of the ANC and ultimately President of the country. Nyanda was fired, it seems because of issues which were reported widely in the media with tender irregularities and also because he failed to make the SABC (South African Broadcasting Cooporation), the national broadcaster work efficiently. All these ministers and deputy ministers who were fired have a choice to remain ordinary MP’s or resign from Parliament.

What also came out from this reshuffle was the influence of the ANC Youth League; the league has been pushing for a generational mix in the leadership. The former president of the youth League Fikile Mbalula was deputy minister of Police since April 2009 now he is Minister of Sport replacing Rev Makhenkhesi Stofile who failed as a Minister of Sport. South Africa hosted a successful 2010 FIFA World Cup ,Rev Stofile was not as visible as expected. Even prior to the world cup he did not appear to be actively involved therefore it was not surprising when he was fired.

Mbalula had to move away from the Ministry of Police there were reported tensions between him and the Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Another former president of the youth league (who is Mbalula’s predecessor in the ANC Youth League), Malusi Gigaba was deputy minister of Home Affairs he was now elevated to the post of Minister of Public Enterprises. Gigaba, is succeeding Barbara Hogan who was seen as one of the best performing ministers, she was Minister of Health from September 2008-May 2009 and she did well in that portfolio and earned the respect of her colleagues and civil society organizations working in the HIV/AIDS field. Hogan has now resigned from Parliament. In 2009,she had a disagreement with the ANC; the leadership had to call her to order when she defied the ANC, by voicing her disapproval when the Dalai Lama was barred from visiting South Africa. SA faces serious challenges with the rights of women, children and people with disabilities, significantly because of an increase in child-headed households who were orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. Thus the Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities was welcomed when Zuma introduced it in 2009 however the minister responsible Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya was not performing. When her non-performance was raised in the media her supporters said she must be given time it’s a new ministry she needs to find her feet. Almost a year later she has still not improved. She was replaced by Bathabile Dlamini, who is also a member of the ANC NEC as well as Secretary General of the ANC Women’s League.

These ministers will have to let go of the salary of about 1.7 million, a car allowance of up to 70 percent of their annual salaries which amounts to about 1.2 million on a basic ministerial salary, they can no longer fly first-class, and they must give away state security . Thus it wasn’t surprising when Rev Stofile said he doesn’t mind to go but timing is bad he would have preferred to go next year April.

While the reshuffle was welcomed by South Africans, especially in instances of ministers who were clearly not performing and those who were implicated in corruption, for the poor people on the ground this means nothing until there is change in their standard of living. According to a report by CDE nearly five and half million people are out of work in South Africa and out of this,75% of the unemployed are under 35 and over 70% of this unemployed people never had a job . The service delivery protests that have been taking place in different parts of the country also shows that people are tired of waiting.

It is good for government to monitor the ministers’ performance but there must be measures in place to fill gaps where there is lack of delivery reshuffling the cabinet every year alone won’t help speed service delivery and improve accountability.

1.The Star, 2 Nov 2010.

2.Five million jobs: How to add five million new jobs to the South African economy over the next five years-CDE 27 May 2009.

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