Sweeping changes to Zuma's new Cabinet

The president unveiled a revamped Cabinet on Sunday, a day after his inauguration.

President Jacob Zuma announcing the newly appointed Cabinet and deputy ministers. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma's announcement of a revamped Cabinet has been met with praise from some quarters, scepticism in some and questions about the level of experience of those appointed in others.

Zuma made the announcement at Tshedimosetso House in Hatfield, Pretoria a day after his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

He said the changes will help drive radical socio-economic change over the next five years.

"I announced on Saturday that we have entered the second phase of our transition to a national democratic society. I also said this would be a radical phase of socio-economic transformation.

The president announced his new Cabinet to the nation just after 6:30pm on Sunday evening, appearing at the government headquarters in Pretoria in a blue suit and tie just moments before his address.

The president kept a dignified tone and shared a laugh with government communications officials before speaking.

He begun by emphasising the new administration's main objectives which he outlined in his inauguration speech on Saturday.

Once he started, he didn't deviate from the written speech pausing only during sentences in which he elaborated on why he made certain changes.

Zuma said the changes will help drive radical socio-economic change in the country over the next five years.

"I announced on Saturday that we have entered the second phase of our transition to a national democratic society. I also said this would be a radical phase of socioeconomic transformation."

Zuma didn't allow for any questions to be asked by journalists in attendance and was whisked away immediately after finishing.

Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has been promoted to Finance Minister, replacing the widely respected Pravin Gordhan.

Nene is seen as someone who believes in the independence of the treasury but he will now have to try and rein in government spending.

Gordhan moves to cooperative governance.

Rob Davies and Ebrahim Patel stay on at the Department of Trade and Industry.

Susan Shabangu has been removed from mineral resources and former Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramathlodi takes her place.

He'll have to deal both with the platinum strike and issues around mining licences.

Basic education, higher education, health, defence, sport and environment are all staying as they are and Malusi Gigaba moves sideways it seems, he's out of public enterprise and will now be running home affairs.

SECURITY COMPLETELY REVAMPED

One of the completely revamped government clusters is that of security with changes to the ministries of justice, police and state security.

Cabinet veteran Jeff Radebe is losing his former top job at justice and is moving to the presidency.

Michael Masutha takes over what is now the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services while Nathi Mthethwa has been demoted from police to arts and culture.

Siyabonga Cwele has been replaced at state security and Minister David Mahlobo will now be in charge of the country's spies.

These changes appear to indicate Zuma wasn't happy with how the cluster was operating.

These ministers will now be in charge of the security cluster's court case against Public Protector Thuli Madonsela over her Nkandla report.

POLITICAL REACTION

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa's Irvin Jim has criticised the president's new Cabinet, saying people who defended Zuma and those who have been embroiled in scandals have been rewarded.

Jim says a case-in-point is the appointment of former national police commissioner Bheki Cele as the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Cele was axed over a leasing scandal two years ago.

Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says the new government is going to cost too much money.

"You are going to spend about R10 million per annum on each and every minister and deputy minister in terms of their protection, cars, homes and salaries."

Meanwhile the ANC, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party have welcomed last night's announcement.

Cosatu President Sidumo Dlamini is impressed with the appointment of Gordhan to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

He says Gordhan is the right man to clean up corruption in the sector.

"We want somebody who will be able to respond to the service delivery protests. As workers, we don't judge any person before that person performs or fails to perform."

The ANC will hold a full press conference on this matter later today.

BLOATED CABINET

Some analysts say the president has missed an opportunity to trim down what many regard as a bloated cabinet.

Judith February, senior analyst at the Institute for Security Studies, says Zuma should have cut back on deputy ministers.

"That, I think, is a perfect example of where you can trim the fat."

Wits University professor Susan Booysen agrees.

"By definition they don't automatically add value to this governance operation."

Political analyst Richard Calland says appointments are a balance of political considerations, which include rewarding loyalists.

"He likes to take full advantage of the opportunities for patronage."

Calland says a bloated executive is expensive and unwieldy.

"How do people who have got scandals get created positions? If you are a problem you get deployed to provincial, if you are a problem in the province you get deployed to national," commented Political analyst Ralph Mathekga.

He added that executive appointments are also a way to reward loyalties.

"Of course you have more deputies because you need to pay back to that network of patronage and support and loyalty within the party."