Tag Archive | Nhlanhla Nene

Second fiasco before Zuma’s SONA address…

Fools go where angels fear to tread…SONA..

The theatrics before the SONA address in front of the world by Julius Malema of EFF, the partyHouses_of_Parliament_(Cape_Town) which objects to the Expropriation Bill on the basis that no compensation should be paid at all for land expropriated, has once again demeaned South Africa.

As if this poor nation had not suffered enough already from the giddy behaviour of the government towards foreigners over visas, land ownership, AGOA, intellectual copyrights and international agreements, the EFF has again sent to them the message that the country might well be ungovernable.

Core issues

ZumaWhy President Zuma should have fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Minister David van Rooyen is not of the slightest interest to South Africa going forward. The fact is he did and the result is that Minister Pravin Gordhan has his finger in the dyke. To know what was in the mind of President Zuma when he pronounced this change is to go down a very dark road and serves no parliamentary purpose at all, other than curiosity.

It appeared that the EFF really got it wrong this time when trying to disrupt Parliamentary procedure before SONA and the Speaker of House didn’t do much better either. In any case, the EFF was mysteriously upstaged by Patrickpatrick lekota Lekota and COPE walking out and an hour of the nation’s time lost, together with a good deal of national credibility.

In fact, it was no better than a performance under the Boswell Wilkie big top, our nation’s famous circus which sadly had its last performance in December 2015, but at least its traditions have been preserved.

Stop the side shows

WYSIWYG or “what you see is what you get” is how things work in parliamentary portfolio committees and before us we see Minister Pravin Gordhan at the pump head because of ANC malfunctions and because of an attempt to reign in the President before his cabinet ministers do any more harm to the economy.

So, in parliamentary terms, it is important that all get back to normal issues of whether or not business and industry agrees with the legislation tabled before Parliament; to continue to “get voices heard” and to determine whether government policy, in terms of mining, manufacturing, finance and banking, is giving the country the breaks it needs to score at the try line.

That is what Parliament is really about but dealing with the EFF is much like dealing with a family hooligan who hasEFF SONA just been given a new motor bicycle.

Fitch, Moodys, Standard & Poor

Such matters as firepools, the upgrading of chicken runs and the influence of various moneyed persons are of great interest to Malema, the EFF and gossip columns. However, the main issues involve the loss of billions of rands being misspent; obdurate government inaction coupled with incompetence; and whether South Africa can restore its economic image, reduce its debt and turn the fiscus around.

clem-sunterThe only road forward (and the only issue to march for in the streets) is for people to have jobs; jobs with skills that contribute towards economic output; jobs that increase tax input by employers making profits and jobs therefore that reduce the national deficit. That means investing in people and creating those skills. Its seems so long ago that Clem Sunther said this when describing the “High Road”.

Roll up the shirt sleeves

There are other forums to address the issues brought up by the EFF, especially matters regarding the re-incarnation of the office of Thusi Madonsela. To drag the Constitutional Court into the political arena is indeed a sad reflection of what political parties put first. As business heads have said, let’s stop this nonsense and put into action plans to save the economy.

At least President Zuma has acknowledged the superb effort by business leaders to avert the course being plotted by the present Cabinet. Creating more jobs in the public service is not the answer to job creation. Sadly, for those involved, this exercise of non-productive job creation in the public service must shrink urgently.

Now let’s see what the Budget produces and whether what President Zuma has said, after a ruler has been brought down across his knuckles, can be translated into practice.  (go to SONA article) History teaches us that leaders can emerge in times of trouble but a nation wearied of unfulfilled departmental targets and broken promises now awaits the outcome of a belt tightening budget.

previous articles in this category

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/zuma-vs-parliament/

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/earlier-stories/state-of-the-nation/

Posted in earlier editorials0 Comments

Parliament brings government to account

Editorial, October end…

Six month review of targets…

FSY001803or three weeks now, the parliamentary working committees have been exercising oversight on the forty seven government departments responsible for service delivery throughout the three tiers of government service.  In terms of the Constitution, oversight is necessary to qualify and quantify the appropriations made to each department for the next six months of the budget year.

Under each department have also come the reports of the many state owned entities (SOEs) described under section twenty nine of the Constitution and scheduled into categories under the Public Finance Management Act. There are the many national government business enterprises similar to Eskom and Telkom; then the funding entities controlled by boards such as the Road Accident Fund; and finally the less self sufficient and less commercial entities such as CSIR and SABS.

Owned by the public

Generally speaking, SOEs are funded from the public purse, meaning that the public has a legitimate interest in the workings of the SOEs.   In the case of the large national enterprises, it could be said that the public is an indirect shareholder through the shareholding minister. The new and so far quite successful system of evaluation by Parliament involves reference to performance rating by the newly established presidential evaluation department.  

Also contributing are the auditor general reports produced on time, and thankfully every time, by the backbone of South Africa’s essential and probably most un-applauded department, the office of the auditor general. We have watched these mainly young men and women in action. Thank heavens for their contribution.

Monolithic structures

Following minister of finance Nhlanhla Nene’s address on the medium term budget statement, there will follow a pause and even perhaps a vacuum of expectation.  It is an enormous machine that he addressed in the public sector; a government structure which has 34 ministers, 33 deputy minister, 159 directors general, 642 deputy directors general, 2,501 chief directors and 7,782 directors.

In a sour note, the Freedom Front pointed out for what it is worth that 40 years ago the country had 18 ministers, six deputy ministers and 18 directors general and in the most recent quarter of 2014 it has been reported, they said, that more than 44 000 public servants have been appointed bringing the number of public servants to just over 3m, or 22.6% of the total labour force of South Africa.

Catch 22

The dilemma now is that all the regulatory processes put in place to monitor spending of tax payer’s money could so easily establish more red tape and further hinder the delivery process.    But to be positive, the oversight system seems to be working and has established a far better ethos in spending procedures and also seems to have established an improved sense of morality.

Politicians such as chairperson of the standing finance committee, Joan Fubbs, may seem fuddy-duddy at times but such are erudite and responsible people and bad performance on delivery receives little change when in debate. Performance of SOEs is now is now clearly the key issue in South Africa and whether what is happening in Parliament can be translated down to provincial, municipal and local level, where local governance controls are often shaky, is now the constitutional issue facing minister Pravin Gordhan.

Bigger by the day

The overall trend is also clear – employment in the private sector has declined while public sector employment has grown. Public service and administration minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, in charge of what has been rapidly expanding public service, faces a major problem ahead in dealing with the intimidating annual wage negotiation period, which is not a good time to rein things in.

In the coming weeks, until the year end possibly, the uneasy feelings expressed in many portfolio committees that nothing is happening will probably persist until some sort of positive results emerge from the massive infrastructure spend. Like a tanker making a turn at sea, any large public service in any country is slow to respond and it will no doubt take time before this change in economic direction, now being better monitored in the parliamentary sphere, can be distinguished as a turn for the better.

Posted in cabinet, Finance, economic, Public utilities0 Comments

New SA cabinet

Who for cabinet?…

NAAfter a week of intense speculation, with the swearing in of Members of Parliament, the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the re-election of Jacob Zuma as President, followed by a gala inauguration process at Union Buildings, the political and financial world held its breath until the moment arose when the composition of the cabinet was announced over the weekend.

Also in the week previous, the first seating of the National Assembly marked noticeable changes in the hierarchy of the new governing alliance party. Strategic seating arrangements displayed the fact that Cyril Ramaphosa took the conspicuous seat allocated for the Deputy President.  In this sense, the mould was cast for a new period in South Africa’s political history at that point.

Ramphosa ZumaSince his defeat by Thabo Mbeki for status in the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman of the Student Christian Movement, former secretary-general of the ANC and first secretary National Union of Mineworkers, was deeply involved in the negotiations that led to Nelson Mandela’s release. His involvement with South Africa’s political development is extensive.  He will now bring to cabinet decisions his twenty years of business experience gained whilst remaining as a political heavyweight in waiting.

Old faces

When the seating in Parliament took place, it appeared at the time that the incumbent minister of trade and industry seemed to haveRob+Davies maintained his influence within the ANC caucus and so it was to be.

tito mboweniWith the status-quo being to some extent maintained, one would therefore not expect any major changes or shifts in terms of policy, regulations and government position of matters related to business, the economy and international relations. The “behind the scenes” withdrawal of Tito Mboweni from parliamentary lists was significant since it had been clearly rumoured that he was tipped for the position of finance minister.

If the election of Baleka Mbete as Speaker and the massive influx of ANC cadres from Luthuli House to the National Assembly areMbete,Baleka swornin anything to go by, we can expect a more controlled environment in Parliament, particularly in the light of a reduced majority and the presence of the EEF.   Such tighter control will be evidenced in the nominations of chairpersons to the various Portfolio Committees.

Also in the past week, National Council of Provinces held its first seating. Unlike the National Assembly, 80% of the members of the NCOP are new to the House. Although this House does not particularly influence national, international and economic trends, one might expect significant changes in terms of committee positions on important issues.

Thandi Modise, former premier of the North West was elected chairperson of the NCOP and who is noted for her open-mindedness and approachability.

 The final choice

neneFinally, in a major cabinet reshuffle, President Zuma, announced his choice of ministers. To the surprise of most. he promoted deputy finance minister Nhlanhla Nene to finance minister, replacing minister Pravin Gordhan. Whether minister Nene was groomed for the position or minister Gordhan, who goes to governance and traditional affairs, is needed to sort out the finances and delivery disciplines in local government, remains to be seen. The appointments are nevertheless surprising.

The size of the cabinet apparently is not an issue with either the President or the ANC Alliance.    Clearly, the issues wracking the allianceanclogo are as important as economic issues and time will tell if the appointments are a consolidation of power or a compromise.

President Zuma also confirmed businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as his Deputy President. Considering Ramaphosa’s background and position, his appointment is expected to be welcomed by investors and the private sector.   As we speculated, Rob Davies is to maintain his position as minister of trade and industry, providing some continuity for the business world despite the fact that sparks never seem to fly in this area. However, DTI can be said to have had some success.

Mining and police

Mining minister, Susan Shabangu, who had been criticised for her handling of the strike in the platinum mines now in its fifth month, wasNgoako Ramatlhodi replaced by Ngoako Ramatlhodi, a former deputy minister in the prison service. Minister Shabangu goes to the new ministry of women, part of the Presidency.

radebeThe National Planning Commission and the ministry of performance, monitoring and evaluation have been merged and will be headed by former Justice Minister, Jeff Radebe, thus becoming part of the triad with the President and Deputy President. The total shake up of the security cluster, mining and energy portfolios could be set to have an significant impact on the five month strike in the platinum belt.

Left of centre

Mzwandile Masina has been appointed deputy minister of trade and industry. If there are to be “radical changes”, as President Zuma Mzwandile Masinaanticipated, this is where changes in B-BBEE might occur. Masina was formerly the national convenor of the ANC Youth League and was recently at the centre of a controversy when referring to NUMSA General Secretary, Irvin Jim, he used bad language.

Should Masina have any hold on policy and regulation, one could witness a significant shift in policy to the left, bearing in mind minister Rob Davies is a member of the SACP.

Electric shock

tina-joemattThe new minister of energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, emerging from her fisheries complications and other difficult personal issues under investigation, will have her work cut out to get a grip on the energy picture and will have to rely, hopefully, on the many experts in the department of energy. This is before tackling the complicated issues facing the country in such areas as Eskom sustainability, the petroleum and fuels strategy and ISMO.

The new deputy minister of finance is Mcebisi Jonas, former MEC for economic development and environmental affairs of the Eastern Cape provincial government during which time it could be said that the Eastern Cape did not benefit from his term of office.
This is a disappointing appointment.

Madala Masusku, former Mpumalanga MEC for finance, is another provincial MEC who has made cabinet as deputy minister of economic development in a key position without too much experience.

Mr Policeman

Nkosinathi-NhlekoChief whip of the ANC, Nkosinathi Nhleko, previously deputy minister of labour, seems to have been rewarded for caucusing legislation through at the last minute in Parliament at the close of the fourth Parliament and becomes minister of police, whilst incumbent Nathi Mthethwa slips down to minister Paul Matashile’s position, Pallo Jordan’s old post, at arts and culture, Matashile disappearing from the hierarchy it appears, as did Jordan as well.

Also disappearing is Marthinus van Schalkwyk, whose ministry of tourism goes to Derek Hanekom, moving from the ministry of sciencehanekom and technology.

oliphantOn the labour front, experienced Mildred Oliphant stays where she is and continues to implement the four new labour laws thus providing some sort of continuity.

With so many changes, continuity in the short term is the issue.

Start up time

There is clearly going to be a time gap with so many shuffles and structural changes and it might be months before the whole impetus of the fifth government of South Africa gains traction to deal with the economic and delivery problems facing South Africa.

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