All the president’s men
Guess who’s coming to cabinet
THE ALL-POWERFUL ANC has lost its moral high ground. The effects of a messy ANC leadership battle, the two centres of power that Jacob Zuma’s defeat of President Thabo Mbeki created, as well as the miserable state the public service and most public corporations now find themselves in, have triggered a precarious kind of instability and uncertainty – in South Africa and among much needed investors overseas.
”The challenge lies in the operational departments, such as education, health
Corruption in the party and among public servants aside, the 20 000-strong protests against Government over the past two years – especially against slow service delivery, crime and HIV/Aids – tell a story about how dissatisfied communities are with the way things have gone. The state of several Government departments – many of which are (Government now admits) busy grinding to a halt – is further insight into what the post-2009 election Government will be up against. The very tight spot the global economy finds itself in (and will continue for some time to come) has exacer-
FINWEEK 28 AUGUST 2008 bated the consequences of SA’s tricky politics and bungling bureaucracy.
Nevertheless, the climate among ANC supporters is one of expectation. The hope invested in the new leadership that swept into power on a pro-poor platform is huge.
Zuma’s cabinet is going to have to talk a lot less and do even more. It’s going to have to involve competent and, above all, accountable ministers who in turn expect the same of the public servants under them. Ministers will need to be operationally focused and systems driven. A performance-related culture in a government where competence and skill are rewarded and not political connection or patronage is going to have to be the order of the day.
Political analyst and academic Sipho Seepe is upbeat. “This will be a different era. It will be a turning point away from an elitist presidency, where ministers look down on the masses. Cabinet will reflect people rooted in structures and communities and organisations, not people selectively appointed because of their political allegiance.” Seepe sees the key challenge as appointing the right directors-general to do the job – people are there to work and not serve political interests.
Though Idasa’s Steven Friedman is adopting a more wait and see approach, he says there are two sets of pressures Zuma is going to have to reconcile when constituting his government. First, retaining some sort of continuity is going to be vital in an administration that can’t afford to reinvent the wheel. Second, people who supported Zuma are going to have to be suitably rewarded.
Public policy analyst Ebrahim KhalilHassen says the easy part is going to be filling the finance portfolio. “There are seven or eight people who could do a competent job, like Pravin Gordhan, Mathews Phosa or Cyril Ramaphosa. Or Trevor Manuel could stay. There is also the possibility of his DG Lesetja Kganyago getting the job. But the challenge lies in the operational departments, such as education, health and justice.”
While the ANC’s policy launch in Kliptown recently was clear about no major policy change being on the cards, it has earmarked three priority areas that will be priorities for the next government: education, health and crime. That’s likely to see changes in the way those ministries are organised. But they’ll definitely go to senior cabinet members, if not given two ministers each.
Who then will Zuma call on to help him do the job? Finweek compiled a speculative list based on conversations with seven political analysts and several ANC insiders in the so-called Zuma camp and, in some cases, bidding for cabinet positions themselves. Not everyone agreed or wanted to give specific names for each portfolio, but the following list includes some of the names likely to head a Zuma-led cabinet in one portfolio or another.
CENTRAL PLANNING MINISTRY IN THE PRESIDENCY Baleka Mbete ONE of the modifications expected to be made to the current cabinet structure is the addition of a central planning ministry. Although it’s still unclear as to exactly how such a ministry would work, many say it would take the shape of the current policy unit in the presidency but be given more power and reach. It would also co-ordinate and guide the executive as well as government departments, ensuring they were on the same path, performing as they should and spending on target.
As current Speaker of Parliament and chair of the ANC, Mbete also heads the party’s powerful political committee, which gives direction to Cabinet and to Parliament. Mbete is likely to be given a prominent government position. MINISTER: PRESIDENCY Ebrahim Ebrahim ZUMA ally and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member. He chaired Parliament’s foreign affairs committee until 2002, when he resigned to become Zuma’s official political adviser. It’s expected Zuma would keep his ally, who heads the ANC’s sub-committee on international relations, at close quarters as he navigates his way through his first term in office. This position may well also go to Zweli Mkhize (see health). DEPUTY PRESIDENT Kgalema Motlanthe CURRENTLY deputy president of the party and recently deployed to Cabinet to smooth the transition between the Mbeki and Zuma governments, as well as to identify where Government’s weaknesses are and what should be done in this regard. He’s widely accepted as the ANC’s plan B should Zuma, in the event of a successful prosecution in his corruption trial, fail to become president or have to step down. TRADE AND INDUSTRY Mathews Phosa THERE are mixed ideas about whether Phosa, who is the ANC’s treasurer-general, will take up a position in cabinet. His business experience as well as his popularity in the ANC means he’s expected to take on one of the economic portfolios – if not Treasury itself. It’s a post SA Revenue Service Commissioner Pravin Gordhan is also tipped for, as it’s one of the departments in line for restructuring. PUBLIC ENTERPRISES Max Sisulu SISULU heads the ruling party’s NEC economic transformation committee. Within the Zuma options his credibility and economic skills are highly regarded and likely to be used in cabinet’s economic cluster of ministries. He’s also one of many who felt sidelined by the Mbeki
administration, apparently blaming Mbeki after he was passed over as CEO of Denel. PUBLIC WORKS Collins Chabane A veteran Limpopo politician (currently MEC for environmental affairs and tourism) whose bid to become premier was torpedoed by Mbeki and, ironically, Ngoako Ramatlhodi before he too fell out with the current President. Sisulu heads the Zuma NEC’s constitutional affairs portfolio committee. He’s close to Zuma and accompanied him on a recent mission to re-establish party-to-party mission talks with Uganda’s National Resistance Movement. JUSTICE Jeff Radebe THE current Transport Minister, Radebe did very well at Polokwane (ranked second on the NEC list after Winnie MadikizelaMandela). He chairs the NEC’s key policy sub-committee and is likely to be retained for his experience as well as given a senior, high profile position in cabinet. SAFETY AND SECURITY/ JUSTICE Pravin Gordhan CURRENTLY Commissioner at Revenue, his track record for managing a bureaucracy’s turnaround, ramping up performance and attracting and retaining skills is revered across the ANC’s factional divide. He’s touted to be redeployed in one of the ministries dealing with the currently ailing criminal justice system, most likely Safety & Security, where systems are weak and police capability and morale very low.
Given the ANC’s policy emphasis on crime someone like Gordhan, who is competent in operational systems and human resources, is tipped for the job. His contract at Revenue ends in November this year. HEALTH Zweli Mkhize AS KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair, he heads the party’s national health and education subcommittee. While the medical doctor turned politician is being touted as a frontrunner to take over from Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, his current portfolio in the KZN legislature as economic affairs and development also stands him in good stead for one of the portfolios in the economic cluster of cabinet, says Idasa’s Pamela Kambala.
Given the priority the party is now putting on health, plus its drive to rebuild the health and education desks, Mkhize remains the favourite for this senior portfolio. Mkhize is also tipped to take the position of minister in the presidency. COMMUNICATIONS Lyndall Shope-Mafole CURRENTLY director-general of the Communications Department, Shope-Mafole is well versed in the workings of a department that has a significant amount to achieve by way of commitments, especially to increase access to broadband technology and oversee the national migration to digital television within tight timeframes.
Apart from knowing the drill and having a reputation as a hardworking public servant, she’s known to be an ambitious political activist and from a fam- ily rooted in leftist politics. She’s currently a member of the ruling party’s NEC and heads the influential subcommittee on political education and ideological work. DEFENCE Siphiwe Nyanda FORMER SA Defence Force General, who retired early after clashing with Mbeki. Nyanda, who has made his disdain for Mbeki unambiguously clear as well as his views that Zuma’s corruption trial is a consequence of a political conspiracy against him, was dispatched by Luthuli House to present the ANC’s emotive submission to Parliament justifying why the Scorpions have to be scrapped.
He’s known to be an influential and ambitious member of the NEC and of the Zuma camp and is likely to head the defence and foreign affairs cluster in cabinet. He heads the NEC’s peace and stability subcommittee. FOREIGN AFFAIRS Zola Skweyiya SKWEYIYA’s experience and popularity in the ruling party
structures and reputation as a champion of the poor (he called publicly for a basic income grant, which Mbeki rejected) mean he’s likely to be retained and rewarded with a senior position in cabinet, such as foreign affairs. He’s stepped into that portfolio on occasions when incumbent Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma hasn’t been available. However, there are many who believe Skweyiya will remain Minister of Social Development, especially because his age will probably only allow him one more term. EDUCATION Blade Nzimande (SACP general secretary) FORMER education minister Kader Asmal may have called him a “political bigot” but including the secretary general of the SA Communist Party in the cabinet would not only confirm to the ANC’s alliance partner is being taken seriously but also reward him for spearheading a tireless campaign to get Zuma into the top ANC job.
Nevertheless, he was highly regarded as chair of Parliament’s portfolio committee and has, since Polokwane, become the ANC’s point man on education. For example, at the party’s postPolokwane policy campaign – where education, crime and health emerged as the key focus – Nzimande and Education Minister Naledi Pandor shared the podium at the launch. Changing of the guard?
Possible change: Education is one portfolio that may well be split into two. Presided over by two ministers: one overseeing schooling, the other tertiary education. That could see current Education Minister Naledi Pandor also being retained in the portfolio.
Fikile Mbalula, who recently exited his post as ANC Youth League leader and who currently heads the NEC’s organisation-building and campaigns subcommittee, is tipped for cabinet but probably in a deputy minister position. He’ll undoubtedly be rewarded for being instrumental in Zuma’s successful Polokwane campaign or, as he puts it, “leading the revolution” against Mbeki. HOME AFFAIRS Angie Motshekga CURRENTLY Gauteng’s education minister and president of the ANC Women’s League. Aside from being an ardent supporter of Zuma and pivotal in the organisation endorsing Zuma’s presidential bid, she’s also been instrumental in raising money for his corruption trial in the Free State (she’s NEC co-ordinator for the province). She’s a senior ANC member and of its national working committee with government experience under her belt. ARTS AND CULTURE Pallo Jordan WHILE he’s not expected to be promoted to a more high profile cabinet post, he’s regarded as an intellectual that will provide some continuity in the transition from one cabinet to the next. Despite occupying the same position in Mbeki’s Cabinet, his personality clash with Mbeki earned him the reputation of being principled and outspoken in the Zuma camp – not an Mbeki-ite. He heads the ANC’s constitutional affairs subcommit- tee. Chairs of subcommittees are usually well, if not completely, represented in cabinet. LABOUR Enoch Godongwana A former Eastern Cape finance MEC, he was sacked in 2004 by Premier Nosimo Balindlela. That move was largely interpreted as a factional division between two camps: one loyal to Makhenkesi Stofile (read Zuma camp), the other to Balindlela (read Mbeki camp). Godongwana was appointed by Zuma to head the ANC NEC’s labour subcommittee.
The Pillay Commission into corruption in the Eastern Cape allegedly identifies Godongwana in multi-million rand irregularities. However, in the current era of political conspiracies, factionalism and politically tainted bureaucracies being used to justify just about anything, it’s unclear what, if anything, will become of that. HOUSING Maite Nkoana-Mashabane MEMBER of the NEC’s national working committee and cur-
rently Limpopo MEC for local government and housing. She’s considered by many to have bright prospects and could be brought in as a junior minister. INTELLIGENCE Lindiwe Sisulu FORMER Intelligence Minister and currently Housing Minister, she’s managed to straddle the Zuma/Mbeki divide and acquired a high position on both the Zuma and Mbeki NEC lists at the Polokwane conference. She’s tipped to be returned to intelligence as a senior cabinet minister.
Her experience in that portfolio and reputation for hard work and overhauling systems will be put to good use in a ministry where Team Zuma wants an overhaul because it’s seen to have been driven by the Mbeki camp’s politics. Sisulu chairs the ANC’s influential transformation subcommittee. TRANSPORT Jeremy Cronin (SACP deputy secretary general) HE’s not labelled an Mbeki supporter, but he has cautioned against blind loyalty. But his reputation is that of an intellect, a “friend of the poor” as well as a man of principle. He’s ranked fifth on the NEC’s list. That, coupled with the fact that he currently chairs Parliament’s transport portfolio committee very successfully, bodes well for his appointment to a Zuma cabinet.
His intimate knowledge of the issues means he could hit the ground running, which is a big plus given the Transport Department’s infrastructure, recapitalisation and 2010 commitments. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Malusi Gigaba THE jury is out as to whether he’ll be retained, as he has mixed reviews about his tenure as Deputy Home Affairs Minister. Nevertheless, he’s young, has government experience and secured 13th place on the NEC’s list. Those who believe he’ll make it back, agree that he’ll be given a portfolio, but with a lower profile. PROVINCIAL AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT Nosizwe Mdladlana-Routledge (SACP Politburo member) ASIDE from having KwaZuluNatal roots, as Zuma does, her bruising encounter with Mbeki and Health Minister TshabalalaMsimang, as well as her outspoken stance against the pair, catapulted her into the limelight last year and cemented her reputation as a feisty, committed and respected politician. After Mbeki gave her the boot – for what she calls “speaking truth to power” and for what Mbeki calls being “unable to work with the collective” – she returned to Parliament’s backbenches.
She’s currently a member of the science and technology portfolio committee and is an arch activist within grassroots women’s organisations. Given the pri- ority government wants to give to local government, especially in driving its health and education policy, she’s regarded as the kind of senior workhorse needed to get that tier of government working. She’s a rising star in the ANC’s health and education subcommittee under Mkhize and putting her in local government would dovetail well with the work of that committee.
This department is likely to be split, so that Traditional Affairs are managed by a different minister. ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM Makhenkesi Stofile THE current Minister of Sport and former premier of the Eastern Cape (until 2004) topped the Zuma camp’s list of NEC names put up at the Polokwane conference. He’s credited with neutralising the Eastern Cape in the run-up to Polokwane when it was leaning towards Mbeki.
However, the jury is now out as to how the findings of the Pillay Commission’s report into corruption in the Eastern Cape, which allegedly fingers Stofile, will impact on his future.