Competence will be key in Cabinet

Competence will be key in Cabinet

David Mabuza embraces Cyril Ramaphosa after his swearing-in as an MP. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The reality is that we, the citizens and taxpayers of South Africa, are the employer and everyone in your Cabinet, sir, works for us … including you.

It is clear, looking at Cyril Ramaphosa’s “A-Team” – if that is indeed what it is – that, like a sports coach, he has a number of stars and impact players at his disposal. But, at the same time, there are those in the line-up who should be permanently warming the bench or bringing on the drinks.

His appointment of Pravin Gordhan to public enterprises shows he doesn’t believe Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s public protector report … even before a court has pronounced on Gordhan’s challenge to it.

Gordhan signals competence and commitment to clean governance – traits which will go down well with local and foreign investors. Likewise, former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni as finance minister is an appointment likely to soothe the amorphous “markets”.

Thoko Didiza’s selection as minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development has been welcomed by the agricultural sector. That is a good sign, given she will be handling the sensitive land reform issue.

Another good choice is Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as minister of corporate governance and traditional affairs. It will help heal some of the rifts with the Jacob Zuma faction, but at the same time, she has proved herself in previous portfolios like health and home affairs.

However, less easy to praise is the choice of the ANC’s court jester, Fikile Mbalula, as minister of transport. He still has questions hanging over him about “sponsored” trips abroad … and he knows little about transport. However, he is clearly being rewarded for his instant loyalty transfer after Ramaphosa triumphed at the ANC’s elective conference at Nasrec in 2017.

Another questionable appointment, to a vital ministry, is that of Thulas Nxesi as labour and employment minister. He tried to defend the waste of huge amounts of taxpayers’ money on Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

Blade Nzimande, as minister of higher education, and Angie Motshekga of basic education have also hardly performed in a stellar way, and education is one of the country’s most pressing problems. Why they would up their game under a “new” administration is a mystery.Bheki Cele, while he is popular with the police and many ordinary people for his apparent “take no prisoners” approach to law and order, has delivered virtually nothing in terms of turning around our appallingly high crime rates.

But he gets another chance. Patricia de Lille is a bit of a wild card as minister of public works and infrastructure. As mayor of Cape Town she ran an efficient, tight ship, it must be said. She has the energy to push things through, so maybe there is some method in Ramaphosa’s madness.

While we do appreciate Ramaphosa’s stated need to balance considerations like gender, regional representivity and youth, we hoped that any such appointments would have been made only after assessing the person’s competence. Because, 25 years after the end of apartheid, it is time for this government to put up or shut up.

In that vein, we welcome Ramaphosa’s intention to issue each of the incoming ministers with a performance contract and that they will be evaluated against the criteria in that contract.

However, would it not be a good idea, Mr President, to publish each minister and deputy minister’s performance contracts, so the whole country may know what their “key performance indicators” and “deliverables” are?

We should also be allowed to see, in detail, the evaluation of that performance, so we can compare it to reality. We would advise you, Mr President, not to hide behind the hoary old excuse that such details constitute “confidential” information between employer and employee.

The reality is that we, the citizens and taxpayers of South Africa, are the employer and everyone in your Cabinet, sir, works for us … including you. Let that be the watchword for you and your Cabinet in future.

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