Reactions continue on new cabinet appointments

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pretoria - Reactions are continuing to come in from all sectors on the country's new Cabinet announced by President Jacob Zuma on Sunday.

The African National Congress (ANC) Parliamentary caucus has welcomed the cabinet saying it is made up "of capable and experienced men and women."

The caucus said the new team ushers in a new era of intensified government service delivery.

"As caucus, we are confident that working together with the people, the new executive will lead the country on the path to realising the vision of renewal articulated by the President of the Republic," the caucus said in a statement.

The caucus said the composition of the team was consistent with the kind of government that the ANC had committed itself in its 2009 elections manifesto.

High on the list of changes was former finance minister Trevor Manuel's appointment as head of the newly formed National Planning Commission (NPC) to be located in the presidency.

While there were a number of surprises in the new Cabinet, President Zuma said he hoped that the markets would respond positively to the appointment of former South African Revenue Service Commissioner, Pravin Gordhan as Minister of Finance.

"Both have proven track records and will bring a sense of stability, continuity and predictability to the new administration which foreign investors seek," President Zuma said on Sunday.

Mr Manuel's replacement by Mr Gordhan has been widely praised.

"The new Cabinet is a totally new reshaping of the Cabinet and President Zuma has clearly put his stamp on it," said FF Plus leader Pieter Mulder in a statement.

"The fact that Mr Manuel has been retained and is in charge of a very important new National Planning Commission is a positive step.

"So to the appointment of Mr Gordhan as Minister of Finance is the right decision. His knowledge and experience at SARS will stand him in good stead to the advantage of the economy and the markets should welcome it," Mr Mulder said.

Mr Mulder was also named Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Although, his appointment received a lot of criticism from the media, Mr Mulder said he would make use of the opportunity by raising issues such as Afrikaans universities and education, name changes, affirmative action and poverty.

While campaigning, President Zuma had promised minority groups a more inclusive approach to government.

"Pieter Mulder is a South African. He belongs to a particular political party. And as we said all the time in the ANC, we are very embracive in terms of cooperating with other political parties," said President Zuma on Sunday.

However Mr Mulder said it was a huge mistake not to retain Barbara Hogan as Minister of Health.

"The decision not to retain Barbara Hogan as Minister of Health but rather as Minister of Public Enterprises is a huge mistake.

"She has without a doubt had the trust of the medical profession and had made a positive impression with the new initiatives which she had brought about. The new minister will now have to start anew," Mr Mulder said.

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi replaced Ms Hogan as health minister.

Treatment Action Campaign spokesperson, Rebecca Hodes, welcomed Dr Motsoaledi's appointment, however noting that he will have to work hard.

"Motsoaledi has to work hard to be able to deliver on the national strategic plan which aims to provide 80 percent of people living with HIV with treatment by 2011," she told BuaNews.

For its part, the African Christian Democratic Party, hoped Ms Hogan's deployment to Public Enterprises would bring a fresh approach to this ministry in view of the huge challenges facing parastatals such as South African Airways.

University of Cape Town's political analyst, Zwelethu Jolobe, told BuaNews that Ms Hogan's move to public enterprises should not be seen as a demotion.

"Public enterprises is an important ministry and she has been moved there because she has expertise to manage the portfolio," explained Mr Jolobe.

The ACDP believed that the appointment of Tokyo Sexwale as Minister of Human Settlements, formerly Housing, would bring much needed business skills to the Cabinet, which should be welcomed.

Prominent leftist allies that made it to Cabinet include South African Communist Party Secretary General Blade Nzimande, who takes over the higher education portfolio, and unionist Ebrahim Patel, who will lead economic development.

The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) welcomed the appointment of Angie Motshekga as Minister for Basic Education.

COSAS said although they did not get their preferred minister, they are confident that Ms Motshekga will bring change in education.

"She is a patient woman who listens - she will listen to all the educational structures," COSAS said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has described the new Cabinet as "well-balanced."

"While we are not happy with every single appointment, overall this is a very well-balanced government which reflects the spirit and themes of Polokwane," the trade union said after congratulating the appointed ministers.