Monday, May 11, 2009



By Justice Malala
May 10, 2009

Despite some inspired choices, jury still out on appointments
IT IS worth remembering that former president Thabo Mbeki never fired a single member of his Cabinet except for those who threatened his grip on power. It is therefore a relief, after 10 years, to get a new Cabinet.

Finally, we are rid of the incompetence and embarrassment of laggards such as Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Brigitte Mabandla and the long long list of others who believed they would be in their jobs forever. This is reason to rejoice, and rejoice again.

Before I look at the composition of the new Cabinet, there is a matter of huge concern that should be recorded. The whole thing is a waste of taxpayers’ cash.

First , the presidency has about 500 people working in policy and all sorts of other positions. Now President Jacob Zuma has added a Ministry of National Planning and a Ministry of Performance Monitoring to the mix. This is likely to entail a dramatic increase in employees.

Plus, cabinet ministers have been increased from 28 to 34. And every minister gets a blue light, a driver and a whole new department.

In these tough times, when companies are tightening belts, the government is failing to lead by example here.

Virtually every ministry has been renamed, which means millions of rands will be spent on rebranding, making new business cards and so forth.

This is not just ridiculous, it’s wrong.

Now to the Cabinet.

Zuma did not have an easy job putting it together. He had to satisfy prima donna leaders who felt they deserved certain positions. He had to nod at the SA Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the youth, women and other constituencies who believe they had a part in his ascendance to power.

Plus, he needs to deliver. He is a man wounded by years of negative publicity and perceptions that he is not fit to govern, and he has one term in which to deliver. He is a man in a hurry.

Can his team deliver?

Part of the difficulty of attempting to judge Zuma’s presidency — and how well it will do in future — is that we, as the media, just don’t know enough about many of his new appointments. That is the downside of writing the first draft of history.

Another difficulty is the failure by government to communicate who some of these appointments are quickly.

After the announcement of the new Cabinet yesterday, I took the trouble to make a few telephone calls about some of the people in key positions in the Zuma administration.

For example, although we have all been talking about the new planning ministry that will be headed by Trevor Manuel, not many people know anything about Collins Chabane, the man who is in charge of monitoring and evaluation of the government’s programme.

He will work closely with Manuel and Zuma.

This means the man is instantly the most powerful individual in Cabinet. He can fire any minister.

I interviewed him yesterday and, interestingly, tens of people asked why I was interviewing a non- entity.

Chabane has been in charge of the ANC’s transition committee for a year and a half. He is a former finance MEC in Limpopo and a former Umkhonto weSizwe fighter, who is highly influential in the MK veterans’ association and whose contacts are numerous in the ANC hierarchy.

But why did Zuma pick him? He was the man who, led by Zuma, did the leg work on the government’s attempts to resolve the Sudan imbroglio. Those who know him say he is an incredibly hard worker who never misses an appointment. Certainly, part of the ANC’s success in Limpopo was because he worked hand in hand with Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s head of elections, to turn the Cope tide around.

The point of this Cabinet selection is that it is a Zuma Cabinet through and through.

The president has pulled in those he believes can make him look good, and has given them interesting positions to deliver in.

There are some good people in there. Manuel, Chabane, Pravin Gordhan, Nathi Mthethwa, Ebrahim Patel, Barbara Hogan, Tokyo Sexwale and Enoch Godongwana are inspired choices.

But some are rubbish. Lulu Xingwana was an abject failure at Agriculture, Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula a spectacular failure at Home Affairs and Membathisi Mdladlana an embarrassment at Labour.

And Susan Shabangu at Mining? Really, at this time when mining is so pivotal to the economy we could have done better than someone who does not understand basic policing, let alone mining legislation and priorities.

Zuma said in his inauguration speech, “I commit myself to the service of our nation with dedication, commitment, discipline, integrity, hard work and passion … The dreams and hopes of all the people of our country must be fulfilled. There is no place for complacency, no place for cynicism, no place for excuses.”

Over the next 100 days we will see whether his choice of Cabinet can match his words. One can only wish them luck.


GarveyGhost said at May 11 2009 1:37AM

Zuma did not have an easy job putting it together. He had to satisfy prima donna leaders who felt they deserved certain positions.
What about the Shaik's brothers, who always try to corrupt Zuma, with false CV's.

nauticaris said at May 11 2009 1:51AM

Cabinet ministers have been increased from 28 to 34. And every minister gets a blue light, a driver and a whole new department.

William Gumede said

"You can measure the potential for failure by the number of bodyguards a politician has. The bigger the convoy, the more likely he is to fail, to be a dictator"

problacks said at May 11 2009 2:18AM

Justice Malala must realise that time for whining and barking is over. President Jacob Zuma has no 100 days to prove himself. He has the whole term of 5 years. The cabinet he has put together will deliver to the masses of SA people better than any ever formed.

Whether the cabinet members taking up prominebt post such as health or monitoring and avaluation in the presidency are not known to you does not mean that they can't deliver.

The way you write is as if you are eagerly waiting for any failure of this government so that you can say I told you so, you should be ashamed of yourself Justice.

May God bless South Africa, its president, the entire leadership and the people of SA at large.

timzozo said at May 11 2009 3:33AM

I agree with you 100%.Golden Showers did what many of us expected of him - pay back most of those who helped him ascend to power.The SACP and COSATU were the first to give the new cabinet a thums up. I find the renaming of departments unnecessary and ridiculous.For example it was the ANC that renamed the then Law and Order to Safety and Security. Does it mean every incoming ANC president will come with his new names?

Rantwa said at May 11 2009 6:18AM

Tokyo Sexwale has closed shop at Mvelaphanda? Hahahahahaha.Now he is back to siphon our hard earned money by doing .... nothing? Hihihihi.

Maqabula said at May 11 2009 7:37AM

He has 100 days to make an impact. Rather we wait and see before throwing stones.

sva said at May 11 2009 8:41AM

What about centralisation of power? This maShower character wants to plan for and police every department. I thought centralisation of power was Nzimande and Vavi's beef with Mbeki. Why now all of a sudden they are quiet about centralisation? Mbeki had one minister Zuma has two. The departments have been increased to accommodate Zuma's incompetent pals. Departments have been renamed without any rationale. MaShower couldn't explain the rationale himself he said they just changed names to reflect the international standards. So the names' change was just a fashion - an expensive fashion.

earljei said at May 11 2009 8:53AM
problacks said at May 11 2009 2:18AM

Justice Malala must realise that time for whining and barking is over.

I couldn't agree with you more. I tried reading this article from this journalist-turned-prophet-of-doom guy, hoping to make any sense out of the story, but unfortunately I couldn't. I thought Mr.(In)Justice Malala would show some kind of ethical journalism; where claims are supported by plausible evidence. This was never the case. Instead, all Mr Malala does is to make some crazy assertions devoid of proof.

(In)Justice Malala, why don't you leave journalism to ethical journos and pursue you career in prophesy, 'cause it looks like you can make a good prophet of doom? Why are so much pessimism?

I just hope that people like you could wake up to the reality that ANC is a governing party for the next five years, and it is here to stay. The sooner you wake up to this reality, the better.

Devils_Advocate said at May 11 2009 9:03AM

I'm going to adopt a wait and see attitude as there have been some drastic changes
its too ealy to criticise since the true measurement can only be how well they deliver

Justice you must learn to stop critising just for the sake of it

Chris-T said at May 11 2009 9:04AM

If Zuma got rid of Lulu and Nosiviwe, you were gonna be complaining that he is 'purging' Thabo allies. Just be useful for once and paint us a scenario here: You say Zuma is rewarding those who helped him ascend to power, right? If he were not 'indebted' to anyone, what would the Cabinet look like? Who would be in and who would be out?

tamsai said at May 11 2009 9:09AM

Sulk all you like - just like Zille who is sounding more and more like disgruntled house wife - so are you. Zuma has done well yet again with this cabinet - ha ha ha!

sowetobystarlights said at May 11 2009 9:19AM
To the defense of the Sleepy One (Malala), I agree that in times of economic turmoil, government should not expand, but try to do more with less.

But I think Malala's just broken the vow he made a week ago, when he said he'll give JZ a chance. It is too early to denounce Ministers as rubbish. Rather we should all keep our powder dry until they've settled down.

In the meantime, I am really impressed with JZ's mature and calm approach to criticism. His approach seems to derive from a man who is very comfortable in his skin, a refreshing departure from our former Dear Leader.