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Zokwana defends Cele's appointment

The newly appointed Agriculture Minister says the former top cop shouldn't be judged for his past.

Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, has defended the appointment of his new deputy Bheki Cele saying the disgraced former top cop should not be judged for his past.

Cele, a former MEC in KwaZulu-Natal was appointed National Police Commissioner in 2009.

But he was fired two years ago by President Jacob Zuma fired him over a leasing scandal.

Zokwana says he respects his deputy minister and urged farmers and farmworkers to give him a chance, saying he will contribute to the sector with his policing background.

"His experience in security matters can be a plus when dealing with farm matters."

He says he and Cele will make a unique contribution to the sector, saying his mining background as former president of the National Union of Mineworkers will help resolve several agricultural issues.

But AgriSA has responded to Zokwana and Cele's appointments with concern saying they have no experience in the sector and will have to start from scratch.

Cele ducked the media spotlight during his first public appearance following his appointment yesterday.

Thirty five ministers and 37 deputy ministers were sworn in at the presidential guesthouse in Pretoria on Monday afternoon in front of dignitaries which included senior ANC officials and members of the Presidency.

The event was presided over by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma announced his new Cabinet in Pretoria on Sunday evening, just a day after his inauguration at the Union Buildings.