The shape of things to come

Two-tier post-elec­tion cab­i­net mooted

Finweek English Edition - - Letters -

ANC PARTY Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s post­elec­tion cab­i­net looks set to be very dif­fer­ent in size and shape to the cur­rent one. Apart from es­tab­lish­ing a pow­er­ful new plan­ning min­istry, ANC sources have con­firmed plans cur­rently be­ing mooted are for a two-tiered cab­i­net with sev­eral more min­is­ters and deputy min­is­ters.

Fur­ther­more, in a bid to give weight to his prom­ise of col­lec­tive lead­er­ship, Zuma is ex­pected to as­sem­ble a spe­cial “po­lit­i­cal al­liance com­mit­tee” (ANC, SA Com­mu­nist Party and Cosatu mem­bers) to help him ap­point min­is­ters in a post-elec­tion cab­i­net.

The in­crease in the num­ber of cab­i­net mem­bers is likely to come about due to two things: First, split­ting some min­istries, such as ed­u­ca­tion, and in­creas­ing the num­ber of deputy min­is­ters in sev­eral min­istries. The think­ing be­hind more deputy min­is­ters is ap­par­ently not just based on the need to al­low more fo­cused, pos­si­bly spe­cial­ist at­ten­tion in key ar­eas. Wits Pro­fes­sor Su­san Booy­sen agrees that aug­ment­ing the corps of deputy min­is­ters could also be a way of groom­ing those with lit­tle gov­ern­ment ex­pe­ri­ence and in­creas­ing the pool from which to draw fu­ture min­is­ters.

Sec­ond, the think­ing by some an­a­lysts is that Zuma has some pay­ing back to do at a po­lit­i­cal level. Ad­di­tional deputy min­is­ter post­ings will al­low Zuma (along with his po­lit­i­cal al­liance com­mit­tee) more space and flex­i­bil­ity when it comes to com­pen­sat­ing those who bro­kered his as­cen­dancy to the top ANC job.

The two-tier cab­i­net sys­tem be­ing mooted is sim­i­lar to the one pro­posed in 2005 by the ANC’s Joel Net­shiten­zhe, then pol­icy chief in for­mer Pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki’s of­fice. Net­shiten­zhe’s tiered pro­posal was ditched in favour of one where min­istries are cur­rently clus­tered to­gether ac­cord­ing to their ar­eas of work – eco­nomic, so­cial or jus­tice. The twotiered struc­ture is likely to in­volve el­e­vat­ing some port­fo­lios into “su­per min­istries” that could in­clude the new plan­ning min­istry.

Its aim? Im­prov­ing co-or­di­na­tion be­tween gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and to use State re­sources more ef­fi­ciently. While that’s ex­actly what Mbeki’s sys­tem of “clus­ter­ing” cab­i­net port­fo­lios aimed to achieve, and while re­search con­firms that the big­ger prob­lem is per­for­mance, manag­ing and boost­ing the pro­duc­tiv­ity of pub­lic ser­vants, the ANC’s NEC mem­ber and for­mer Sa­sol GM Max Sisulu (MA in pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion from Har­vard’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment) is tipped to be the min­is­ter in charge of the plan­ning min­istry.

Re­fer­ring to a “po­lit­i­cal al­liance com­mit­tee” ad­vis­ing Zuma on his cab­i­net, Pro­fes­sor Sipho Seepe says it would give ex­pres­sion to Zuma’s idea of col­lec­tive lead­er­ship, as op­posed to Mbeki’s style, which Seepe crit­i­cises as an exclusive one based on a clique of his close al­lies. “This is Zuma say­ing ‘I’m dif­fer­ent’,” says Seepe.

Mbeki’s fans take um­brage. While they ar­gue his cab­i­net in­cluded a rep­re­sen­ta­tive spread of leaders from the Com­mu­nist and trades union move­ment, the key ques­tion in such squab­bles is whether the com­mit­tee of al­liance mem­bers Zuma chooses to con­sult with will not be ex­actly the op­po­site of what it’s billed to be – a clique of like-minded “100 per­cent JZ” peo­ple.

While the com­po­si­tion of that com­mit­tee will be telling, a hint of who is be­ing con­sid­ered for cab­i­net will be re­vealed when the ANC makes its elec­tion list pub­lic: the top 25 names are usu­ally in­dica­tive of who will be in cab­i­net. That ex­cludes what many ex­pect to be some se­nior ANC fig­ures who will be at the top of the list even though the party has “no in­ten­tion” of them be­ing in cab­i­net. Spec­u­la­tion is that this will be done to quell any thoughts th­ese fig­ures have of “dis­en­gag­ing from party work” (read: de­fect­ing to COPE). Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Naledi Pan­dor is be­lieved to fall into that cat­e­gory.

SACP gen­eral sec­re­tary and for­mer Par­lia­ment ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio com­mit­tee chair­man Blade Nz­i­mande is be­ing touted as pos­si­bly one of two ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ters. Be­cause ed­u­ca­tion is one of the ANC man­i­festo’s three pri­mary ar­eas of fo­cus – along with health and crime – the pro­posal is to put ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion un­der one min­is­ter and give the other sole fo­cus on schools.

As for the other pri­or­ity ar­eas/pos­si­ble “su­per min­istries”, Bar­bara Ho­gan is ex­pected to re­main Health Min­is­ter. The same goes for cur­rent Safety & Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa.

While Luthuli House ex­pects its NEC will have fi­nally ap­proved its elec­tion lists that emerged from the re­cent list con­fer­ence by mid-Fe­bru­ary, even Zuma’s crit­ics in the rul­ing party ac­knowl­edge the “po­lit­i­cal al­liance com­mit­tee” is in­deed a nice touch. The ques­tion is how con­vinc­ing it will be when it comes to liv­ing up to its prom­ise: both of real in­clu­siv­ity and re­ward­ing skill above all.

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