President Jacob Zuma’s new Cabinet is too big and will be too costly, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) said on Monday.
“While we understand that Cabinet appointments offer the president an opportunity to reward his supporters and to balance the interests of various influences within the ANC-led tripartite alliance… we are very concerned about the size of our Cabinet, which is among the biggest in the world,” said Seifsa CEO Kaizer Nyatsumba in a statement.
“A developing country like ours, with a small tax base and whose economy has been seriously under-performing, cannot afford such a bloated Cabinet.”
He said South Africa needed to have more people with experience as business leaders and entrepreneurs so that government would be more sensitive to the interests of business, “which is the goose that lays the golden egg”.
“Our Cabinet is made up of people with different experiences, including those from the ANC’s allies in Cosatu and the SA Communist Party, with very little business representation,” said Nyatsumba.
“Most of the ministers have never held a corporate job in their lives. Striking a healthy balance among all the interest groups would have made for a more balanced Cabinet.”
Seifsa, however, welcomed the appointment of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and the retention of Rob Davies as trade and industry minister.
“Davies has been readily accessible to the business community and has interacted with it with an open mind,” he said.
“He has a very good appreciation of the challenges confronting the business community in the country and understands that our economy will continue to under-perform unless manufacturing in the country is stimulated.”
Nyatsumba said Nene had had an opportunity, as deputy minister in the portfolio, to under-study both former finance ministers Trevor Manuel and Pravin Gordhan in the past decade.
“Mr Nene has worked very well with ministers Manuel and Gordhan, both of whom are generally acknowledged to have been the most outstanding ministers since the dawn of our democracy, and he is more than ready for the task at hand,” he said.
The SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) welcomed the appointment and said Nene was a skilled and experienced leader.
“The Cabinet shows a commitment to the priorities… these being accelerated infrastructure investment, radical economic transformation, and jobs growth,” Sacci CEO Neren Rau said in a statement on Monday.
“Sacci will be an active partner toward an improved economic and investment environment but remains of the view that this must be predicated on lower levels of state interventionism.”
The Chamber of Mines congratulated the new Cabinet and welcomed the appointment of Ngoako Ramatlhodi as mineral resources minister.
“The Chamber of Mines is encouraged by the appointment of… Ramatlhodi as he brings years of experience in government as a former premier of Limpopo and deputy minister of correctional services,” it said in a statement.
“The South African mining sector faces challenges that require concerted efforts by all stakeholders and the chamber believes minister Ramatlhodi can only add value through his leadership of the department.”
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it expected the new Cabinet to pick up where the last administration left off.
“We believe that this is an opportune time for the government to deliver many of the South Africans still living in dire poverty from that situation and improve on the unemployment figures,” it said in a statement.
“Popcru trusts that the president’s decision to establish the new ministry of small business development to be led by minister Lindiwe Zulu will lift some of the pressures felt by those attempting to aid the unemployment crisis through self-employment.”
The union also welcomed the merging of the justice and correctional services departments.
“This combination will undoubtedly lift the heavy burden placed on the justice system resulting in overcrowding in our prisons.
“We view this as a step in the right direction…”
Busa expresses concern over new Energy, Minerals appointments
Business Unity South Africa (Busa) expressed surprise and concern at the appointment of Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Ngoako Ramatlhodi to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministries respectively.
Busa raised its concerns in a statement written in response to President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of South Africa’s new Cabinet, following the fifth democratic elections on May 7.
Acting CEO Cas Coovadia emphasised the importance of the energy portfolio to the country’s economic performance and said it “should have been given to a person experienced in this field and able to bring critical stakeholders together to address the serious energy sustainability issues in South Africa”.
In an interview with Engineering News Online Coovadia also raised concern about the turbulent nature of Joemat-Pettersson’s tenure at Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which he hoped would not be carried over to the energy portfolio.
The organisation stressed that it would work with the new Minister, but urged her to bring a different style into the Ministry to that which she applied in her previous role.
Coovadia said it was vital for Joemat-Pettersson to speedily get to grips with the country’s priorities and to ensure greater coordination between the Department of Energy and the Department of Public Enterprises, which remained the shareholder Ministry for power utility Eskom.
Busa was less critical of Lynne Brown’s appointment as Minister of Public Enterprises, stating that she fared well in the Western Cape. “We will work with her to offer our advice and thinking on the role of public enterprises, particularly in getting the infrastructure programme on the road.”
However, it expressed concern with the appointment of Ramatlhodi to the Mineral Resources portfolio. “This is a portfolio fraught with serious issues and has experienced substantial contraction from a previous position of dominance in the global resources environment.
“Minister Ramatlhodi is an experienced person, but is not so in this area. We urge him to urgently work with all stakeholders to address issues inhibiting the growth of this critical sector,” said Coovadia.
Again, Coovadia stressed the importance of coordination and policy coherence in order to stimulate South Africa’s underperforming resources sector, which was critical to South Africa’s competitiveness and growth prospects.
He also lamented the lost opportunity to bring about greater coordination in economic policy and direction more generally.
“We remain convinced the separation of economic development from trade and investment is inappropriate. The retention of both Ministries will lead to further lack of coordination.”
Meanwhile, Coovadia said the creation of a small business development Ministry, to be headed by Lindiwe Zulu, could focus attention on the critical sector.
However, he pointed out the need to focus on eliminating the problems plaguing this area. “These include red tape, managerial and administrative knowledge of running a business and finance.
“We believe Minister Lindiwe Zulu is a competent person who will make a difference in this area,” he added.
58 780 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.5% y/y in June 2019 (CPI) & +5.8 y/y in June 2019 (PPI)
-3.2% q/q (1st quarter of 2019)
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