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Special cabinet statement might correct damage to SA

Editorial…..

At last, a sensible special cabinet statement……

Sent to clients 15 Jan…On 13 January, a Special Cabinet Statement was issued and, as compared to previous irregular missives, the word “special” indicated some hope.   Instead of just containing the usual reasons for having to rejoice on certain public holidays, details of the passing of MK operatives and certain Bills approved, the latest document was full of economic facts and financial fiscal information placing a positive spin on the current economic gloom. At last, an acknowledgement that there is a hand on the tiller.

Clearly there has been a palace revolution, if only in this sphere alone.

As the Cabinet Lekgotla is planned, Parliament also prepares to receive it’s parliamentarians all fresh from the respective political party get-to-gethers. A lot has changed since they all parted company and quite likely a lot more is to change before MPs gather for their first meetings.

No doubt the EFF will try to make a circus out of things but nevertheless the show will go on.    However, EFF or not, it is becoming more and more difficult to sort out between political comment, which is not our focus, and the mechanics of State policy and its direction, oversight on financial issues and legislative alerts that affect business and industry.

Bad four days

Rob-DaviesRed lights are flashing in all camps, not least of which is the fact that it is difficult to tell who did the most damage to South African markets – China or President Zuma. In parliamentary terms, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry seems determined to stand by SACP Minister of Trade Industry, Dr Rob Davies, in all matters dealing with BEE and trade agreements- as does DTI itself – and the Public Works Portfolio Committee seems unable to wear down SACP Minister, Jeremy Cronin, on issues regarding the Expropriation Bill.

Similarly, Lumka Yengeni’s Portfolio Committee on Labour Committee has no hope of a good outcome when it ordered, in the last session, an end to the shambles and confusion in Minister Mildred Oliphant’s Department of Labour, another Kwa-Zulu appointee of President Jacob Zuma.

Always a problem

Finally, despite some excellent MPs from all parties sitting in the Portfolio Committee on Energy, the vague report backs made to them by Department of Energy is leading to a sense of frustration in that particular Portfolio Committee which is not effective either as a result. In the area of good communications, Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson can only be described as a menace.

The good news is that stalwart ANC Joanmariae Fubbs remains Chairperson of the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee  and holds the ship steady with her disciplines. SACP executive Yunus Carrim stays as Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance and one wonders if he will see eye to eye in view of his ideologies with Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Overlooked as well

A Jacob Zuma appointee, Ebrahim Patel of COSATU fame but a hard worker and very leftist, remains Minister ofebrahim patel Economic Affairs but even he was overlooked for Minister of Finance when the President came up with name of David van Rooyen, who, to be quite frank, we had great difficulty in recalling his presence in Parliament over the last few months. A close shave but costly.

Back onto legislation. Whatever happened to the Private Security Industry Bill nobody knows but one hopes that the President was not using it to play silly games with the Obama administration on the AGOA issue. Maybe it gets discussed at the Lekgotla. Maybe not.

Politics ahead of economics 

In the meanwhile, one hopes that the message is got through at the Cabinet Lekgotla that what the President says vitally affects each one of his citizens and that that the private and personal politics being played out at the moment are particularly damaging to the business of Parliament and its relationship with commerce and industry.

Just as importantly, there has to be a better understanding in government departments when reporting to Parliament why business institutions need clarity of policy to gain investment confidence.

opening parliamentParliament is an important and independent tool of democracy in the fight against autocracy but so many departments seem more in awe of the auditor general than they are of the need for answers to parliamentary questioning and attempts to get the truth.

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