Cabinet shines with Hope

Comment by Pastor Ray McCauley

On the whole, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet looks like a solid team. In it there are elements of experience, continuity, fresh blood and gender equality.

In the face of growing calls to include young people in his Cabinet, it would have been foolhardy of the President to completely abandon experience in favour of the young and inexperienced. That would have meant the wheels of government would grind even slower as the new incumbents were trying to find their feet. Service delivery was going to suffer, not because the young are incompetent by virtue of their age but because it does take time for a Minister to settle in their new responsibilities, especially if they have never functioned in that capacity before.

Faced with the imperative of effectively governing while building a second layer of leadership, the President appointed a good number of young people in deputy ministerial positions. We applaud him for the foresight as those positions would be a good training ground for full ministerial positions. Building a second layer of leadership appears to be an area around which there was no deliberate or systematic thinking for the past 24 years of our democracy.

The fact that in Finance, for example, Tito Mboweni had to be brought back last year from the private sector speaks to an absence of suitable candidates within the Executive from which an appointment could have been made. I have a feeling the opportunity to groom a future Finance Minister might again have been lost. Without taking anything away from the talented Deputy Finance Minister Dr Amos Masondo, he and Mboweni are already above 60 years of age. A younger understudy to Mboweni might have been the ideal route. Better still, two deputies at Treasury could have been the way to go. There are portfolios that I feel did not deserve two deputies.

I know my proposal for two deputies in Finance may sound contradictory to the President’s objective of reducing the size of Cabinet and the Executive in general. It is an objective I support but which must accommodate the need to at least use deputy ministerial positions to build capacity. Talking about the size of the Cabinet, the President has managed to reduce the number of Ministers from 36 to 28 and for that he must be commended. This reduction meant that President Ramaphosa had to drop some of his comrades from Cabinet. It could not have been easy. At the risk of being seen as purging, the President nonetheless took the decision to amalgamate certain functions and render some Cabinet Ministers redundant.

We commend President Ramaphosa for the manner in which he attended to the representation of women (drawing 50% of his Cabinet from women). South Africa has lost a lot of ground in the struggle to translate gender representation into gender equality. These appointments go beyond being symbolically significant and will hopefully inspire companies and organizations to embrace gender equality and put women women’s peace and security firmly on the agenda.

Now that the Cabinet has been finalised it is time for these men and women to urgently start work on rebuilding our country, a lot of areas need urgent attention

Education systems. While we welcome efforts by the previous administration to address our education system, the sixth administration must put this high on their priority list. Our education system is not producing what our economy needs. Our basic education together with our early development learning needs capacity building so that the development of our Youth can be grounded early, preparing them for the long journey ahead. Collective leadership is required in order to achieve this.

The fight against corruption must be given special attention, corruption is still part of our society, corruption is robbing us of our ability to build a strong economy. Corruption is robbing us of our ability to provide more money for education, it is robbing us of our ability to increase social grants to the less privileged. While we welcome the good work that is being done by the various commissions that has been set up by the President, we need more than identifying corruption. We need the political will to follow through by arresting the guilty. We need a government who has a zero tolerance policy towards corruption. We need our law enforcement agencies to act without fear or favour.

Our economy has been stagnant for a long time, especially so in the last few years and this has created all sorts of problems for our government. It has affected service delivery at grass roots level where there is a significant need of services. We need a government that will respond urgently to this problem and come up with ways that will enable our economy to grow at a rate that will produce jobs and increase service delivery.

Most of our municipalities are dysfunctional or have collapsed because of poor governance and bad financial management. They are not able to fulfil their constitutional mandate to provide for the basic needs of our people. They are not able to provide clean water, sewage and electricity. In order to deal with these things, we need correct skills at municipal level and servant leadership.

These are the things affecting our people on the ground, we need a responsive government and political will to deal with these challenges.
We have an opportunity to rebuild our country, we have the opportunity to unite our people and we have the opportunity to take South Africa forward.

It is still early days to make any pronouncements about the performance of the Cabinet but one does hope that the President, Ministers and Deputy Ministers will leave a legacy and live up to the promise of a new dawn.


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