September 'surprised' by appointment

The newly appointed minister says she has one of the most difficult jobs in the country.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - Newly appointed Human Settlements Minister Connie September says she knows she now has one of the most difficult jobs in the country.

September replaces Tokyo Sexwale who was fired by President Jacob Zuma during his cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday.

Tuesday's move could be seen as an 11th hour bid to improve service delivery and shows how serious he is about fighting corruption ahead of the 2014 general elections.

Five new ministers and four new deputies will be sworn in later today.

September says she is well aware of the challenges that now lie in front of her.

"Housing is one of the very challenging areas in South Africa. Many of our people are still waiting for houses, security and comfort."

She admits she was surprised to get the call from the President.

"You start off your day with a task you were busy performing and you end off the day with a completely new one."

She says she knows people are waiting for her to help them.

Sexwale has not yet commented on the developments.

GETTING SA UP TO SPEED

Newly appointed Communications Minister Yunus Carrim says the country has no choice but to work towards dramatically improving internet broadband access and increasing internet speeds.

He replaces Dina Pule who was axed from her post following several investigations against her.

She is being probed by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela and Parliament's ethics committee.

According to reports, Pule's romantic partner earned millions of Rands from an Information Communication Technologies (ICT) Indaba hosted by her department in 2012.

It is believed her department pressured organisers to hire Phosane Mngqibisa's company to assist with the major event at a cost of R6 million.

Carrim says while he is not a technical specialist about broadband communications, these issues need to be addressed.

"I don't understand all the technical hurdles that have to be overcome but I will hopefully get up to speed relatively soon."

He says the country can't carry on as it has been.

"The country needs it, the economy needs it and if we are going to effect the National Development Plan (NDP), what choice do we have but to do what we have been planning to do for a while."

Carrim says he is also a trained journalist which he hopes will help him in his new role.

OPPOSITION

While ANC alliance partners the South African National Communist Party (SACP) and Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomed the changes to Cabinet, opposition parties including the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Agang have questioned Zuma's move.

Corruption Watch says it hopes the new minister appointed to head the Department of Cooperative Governance will enact much-needed change.

Outgoing minister Richard Baloyi was heavily criticised for his handling of the Mvula Trust scandal.

He was also slated for problems with government's multibillion rand Community Work Programme.

Baloyi eventually launched an investigation.

However, Corruption Watch accused him only of acting months after the allegations were first made and while protests continued in several provinces.

"This a very important department of state that has suffered under a series of mediocre ministers and we hope that things are going to improve," says the organisation's David Lewis.

Lewis says the organisation will offer its help to the new minister, Lechesa Tsenoli.

He adds Corruption Watch hopes all allegations of corruption will be investigated.