and said he had requested an investigation into farm murders. Sisulu did not hesitate in speaking out against the leader of the world’s most powerful country, dismissing the tweet as a “downright fabrication” and “an insult that has no measure”.
Trump hasn’t tweeted again, which is probably for the best.
But Sisulu’s brief tenure cannot be described as an unqualified success. One misstep was the abstention from a United Nations General Assembly vote condemning the ongoing genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar. Sisulu subsequently reversed this position and said South Africa planned to take a stronger stand on human rights issues in the future.
And, like her predecessor,
Sisulu cannot seem to shake the ghost of Thabo Mbeki’s infamous “quiet diplomacy” in the Southern African region. Nowhere is this more apparent than with regard to Zimbabwe, where controversial elections were met with nothing but pro-forma statements from the minister and her department, and in the run-up to December’s election in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
South Africa’s public silence has been sharply criticised by Congolese opposition and diaspora groups, who view it as a tacit endorsement of President Joseph Kabila’s attempts to retain power.
After less than a year in office, Sisulu has yet to put a definitive mark on the position. Early signs, however, suggest that she is a steady pair of hands in an international arena that is becoming increasingly more complicated and unpredictable.
Too early to grade
Appointed in February this year as science and technology minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-ngubane was the minister of communications for four months and before that the minister of energy for six months.
It has been that kind of two years. Besides the blunder of having been one of Jacob Zuma’s defenders during the Nkandla saga, Kubayingubane carries with her a reputation for being a staunch processes person.
Moreover, she has inherited a squeaky-clean department from her predecessor, Naledi Pandor, who has gone on to be the minister of higher education.
Kubayi-ngubane’s budget of R7.8billion is an increase of roughly R300million from the previous financial year. Of this figure, about 8% is for administrative costs and 92% goes into transfers and subsidies — close to 40% of that going to public entities in the form of a parliamentary grant.
Key among her concerns are research and development as well as setting out a path for long-term policy development in the form of the new draft white paper, which went out for public comment in September.
Internationally, the minister’s profile is on the rise. She was nominated to serve as a member of the World Economic Forum’s global artificial intelligence council, a role likely to include policy development work among the partners that make up the council.
TOKOZILE XASA Minister of Sport and Recreation
Tokozile Xasa came into a department with a good administrative history and once again the results are favourable.
Of the R1.02-billion allocated to it, 99.4% was spent. More than R700-million went to the development of sport in a bid to build an “active nation”. The score from the auditor general was favourable and no unauthorised, fruitless or wasteful expenditure was reported.
Xasa has weighed in on every sporting controversy the country experienced during her tenure, from the South African Football Association’s (Safa’s) messy elections to the Ashwin Willemse debacle.
It would seem we have her to thank for local football appearing on radio once more: it was after her intervention that a stubborn SABC radio and the Premier Soccer League decided to share their toys again.
Where she loses points is that too often the talking is where it ends. It’s early in her tenure, but she needs to start asking difficult questions about what sovereignty means for our leading sports federations, which have for too long operated with impunity.
There is also a huge broadcasting mess brewing between the SABC and Safa that she would do well to tidy up in what will be an important next few months of sport.