This is a summary of the Mail & Guardian’s Cabinet Report Card which not only sums up the performance of South Africa’s leaders in 2013 but teaches us a lot about their ability and intentions. The original article, ‘On your marks, get set … FAIL’ was long so i worried that the average reader would ignore this important read but political followers are encouraged to follow the link above and give the authors the credit they deserve for a job well done.
Note that opinions are sometimes mine and not the M&G’s.
It’s of great concern that the most powerful departments in South Africa are the ones generally failing. Although there are positives, you can’t read this without being incredibly concerned for our future.
F – Jacob Zuma (President): “If there is one area where Zuma deserves an A+, however, it`s in the art of survival” but he can only reshuffle his cabinet so many times before running out of friends’. The wolves are growling as Nkandla finally gets the limelight it deserves…after being exposed a whole 4 years ago (yes, starting that project was obviously very important to JZ in his first year as President). Then there’s Guptagate where his mates used Waterkloof Air Force Base as their private landing strip. He also fathered another child out of wedlock. There was also “unauthorised expenditure totalling R2.3billion, R26.4billion in irregular expenditure and R2.1billion in fruitless and wasteful expenditure for the 2012-2013 financial year. Maybe worst of all was the move further away from transparency which never bodes well for a country.
F – Siyabonga Cwele (Minister of State Security): No one knows the depths of this department because it’s so shrouded in secrecy yet, from the leaks, there’s reason for alarm. “There were several significant intelligence failures, including the tragic debacle in the Central African Republic, where 13 South African soldiers were killed in a skirmish with rebel soldiers. Questions also remain about the South African sojourn of “White Widow” Samantha Lewthwaite, the Gupta wedding jamboree at the Waterkloof Air Force Base, and the way in which a whole range of shady characters are given access to President Jacob Zuma, from Libyan bounty hunters to German con men.” There was also Nkandla and the Secrecy Bill. Cwele hasn’t submitted the obligatory, annual report to Parliament for 3 years!
F – Tina Joemat-Petterson (Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries): The department has received unqualified audits under her. However, “two incriminating reports by the public protector later, the minister is now better known for her lavish spending habits at the taxpayer`s expense and an uncomfortable relationship with the politically connected Sekunjalo consortium…South Africa`s ostrich meat and citrus fruit have been banned by the European Union for failing to comply with regulations.” On a personal level, for my home town of Knysna, she has let us down. That we survived the Kiani Satu oil spill was the result of good fortune and hard work by many (although it was disapointing that the ship sunk before the oil could be removed). Her department was absent, the ships that were suppose to help us grounded. Not to mention that without any patrol boats in action, foreign trawlers have reduced our fish population with illegal use of long nets.
F – Angie Motshekga (Minister of Basic Education): Helen Zille supported her but the public didn’t. Despite the “embarrassingly lengthy Limpopo textbook debacle of 2012, Motshekga appeared to think doing nothing in 2013 was the safer option.” This has lead to litigation by public organisations. It seems to be her nature to only work when placed under pressure by outside groups. “Motshekga might be the only South African who still maintains, with a straight face, that there is no “education crisis”. For evidence, she generally points to the ever-rising matric pass rate during her tenure. Among the counterevidence this ignores are the abysmal results of the annual national assessments of literacy and numeracy (ironically, introducing these is one of the few genuine achievements of her ministry).”
F – Nathi Mthethwa (Minister of Police): “In his favour, the percentage of serious crime case dockets that were ready for trial increased over the past year because of the enhanced capacity of the detective services, which was one of Mthethwa`s areas of focus. The police have also made arrests in some prominent cases this year. On the negative side, he is not doing enough to hold police management to account. After the police opened fire and 34 miners were tragically shot dead in Marikana last year, Mthethwa`s leadership was absent. He was lambasted when he went to court and lost his bid this year to close the commission of inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape. Heads should have rolled in the police force when the Institute for Security Studies disclosed that the crime statistics released in September contained a serious statistical error. Who, if anyone, condoned this miscalculation, which downplayed the extent to which serious violent crime categories are rising in South Africa? To his detriment, Mthethwa is now seen as part of a supposed political conspiracy surrounding the apparent protection of the suspended crime intelligence head, Richard Mdluli. The South African Police Service Act is clear: Mthethwa should have immediately suspended Mdluli while criminal charges against him were investigated, instead of trying to move him to another post. The same goes for his national police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, who is currently under investigation by the crime intelligence unit. Although the credibility of the police is at an all-time low, Mthethwa does not appear to be doing much to prevent his top police management component from falling apart.”
D – Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Minister of Defence and Military Veterans): In her first year in office she’s “had to deal with the consequences of soldiers coming home in body bags from the Central African Republic, Sudan and Namibia. The circumstances of the deaths did her no favours: a training exercise, an apparent suicide and a mission in support of what turned out to be an ill-liked leader without, in retrospect, any prospect of hanging on to power.” It’s hard for her to get her budget increased when new revelations about the Arms Deal keep surfacing. On the positive, she oversaw the creation of a fund for families of soldiers who’d died in action and implemented free medical care for veterans.
C – Kgalema Motlanthe (Deputy President): He admirably assisted the Health Minister in broadening the treatment for HIV sufferers. His roll in e-tolls is double-sided as he deserves credit for saving the program for government but earns criticism from the public who hate it. He is currently working on bringing stability to the mining sector. He is considered to be intelligent and a hard worker but his biggest failure has being in not addressing the enormous corruption he claims to detest. It’s undoubtedly because of his sheep stance that he’s managed to keep his position under Zuma despite challenging him, half-heartedly, for the leadership position of the ANC.
C – Fikile Mbalula (Minister of Sport and Recreation): “He will be remembered for the expensive Sports Awards, which reportedly cost R65-million.” He promoted “social cohesion” by having rugby and soccer perform on the same pitch at the Nelson mandela Sports Day. However, he has yet to succeed in bringing transparency into the affairs of football authorities.
C – Edna Molewa (Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs): She is in an unenviable position as South Africa’s water crisis needs R600 billion to fix. there is also a great skills shortage in the water departments so that projects can fall behind by years. to make headway with these problems, she has to stop being too polite and get inter-government agency co-operation. Environmentally, she is considered to have good staff with good objectives. the “Working For” programmes are considered to be a success.
C – Sibusiso Ndebele (Minister of Correctional Services): This was the man, who in 2009, “was forced to return the gift of a R1.1million Mercedes-Benz vehicle and two head of cattle given to him by a group of contractors doing business with his department.” It did not bode well for a man inheriting the portfolio of Correctional Services. On the positive side, Ndebele
C – Paul Mashatile (Minister of Arts and Culture): He has been mostly accessible, and “appointed a credible panel to review tenders for the 2013 Venice Biennale art exhibition”. He has encouraged international collaborations for the arts but has yet to be transparent with touring funds. “He has failed to address the state of the Windybrow Theatre and the Performing Arts Centre of the Free State theatres which are plagued by mismanagement and dysfunctionality.”
C – Trevor Manuel (The Presidency: National Planning Commission): His National Development Plan has come under fire by NUMSA for not sufffiently tackling inequality and for seeking to make labour rights more flexible. Lucky for Manuel, because his plan has been adopted by the ANC, NUMSA has to take it up with the ANC. He has been outspoken on corruption but without the government making an effort to clean up its act, Gordon’s plans for South Africa will battle to succeed.
C – Bathabile Dlamini (Minister of Social Development): “Bathabile Dlamini can bask in the glory of her ministry`s clean audit report for the 2012-2013 financial year. The auditor general found that the department achieved an overall spending rate of 99.1% for the financial year.” On the downside, the R10-billion deal to provide the payment solution for the distribution of grants was declared invalid by the courts.
C – Malusi Gigaba (Minister of Public Enterprises): He inherited a very difficult portfolio which includes the electrical shortages of Eskom and the delay in its building of 3 power stations. South African Airways (SAA) has improved under a new CEO but may need another bailout. Transnet has being upgrading it’s railway lines. “Gigaba`s appointment as the organiser of the ANC`s election campaign has raised some eyebrows, given his demanding post.”
C – Robert Davies (Minister of Trade and Industry): “Rob Davies can list some successes this year, including the long-awaited Bill establishing economic development zones, but other legislation drawn up by his department has not been as well received. There are also some questions about whether policy from the department always aligns with policy being put in place by the rest of the government, and the National Development Plan in particular.”
C – Collins Chabane (Minister in the Presidency: Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Administration): “Chabane prefers to keep below the radar and has spent considerable time putting together a team and sharpening strategies to monitor and assess the performance of government departments.” He released his own report card this year and it painted a disapointing picture. His efforts may be in vain as he does not have the power to get rid of poorly performing ministers as they are often hired by politicians rather than for their skillset.
B – Pravin Gordhan (Minister of Finance): This year, he introduced the youth wage subsidy and reduced Cabinet spending. he has been unable to cut the red tape small business experiences which some say is the result of ideological differences in the Cabinet. Possibly the biggest action he hasn’t done is to curb excessive spending by local and provincial departments. Government debt still looks bad as does South Africa’s growth rate of 2.1%. His strengths include consistency within a very complex job. this has met the approval of international agencies.
A – Derek Hanekom (Minister of Science and Technology): “The Square Kilometre Array has put the department on the government`s radar and focused money and attention on the science and technology space.” It creates jobs and brings our country international relations and prestige. Pilot tests in rural areas include tablets and wireless technology. Hanekom has also completed projects started by his predecessor which is contrast to the sometimes cancellation of projects by new ministers to office. Consistency makes for better government. Science must not be politicised. Some reasons why the department has flourished is because its being apolitical, open and transparent. Unfortunately, the ANC is trying to hitch a ride to the departments glory by flying its flag at events hosted by the department.
A – Aaron Motsoaledi (Minister of Health): “Aaron Motsoaledi practises what he preaches. When he underwent surgery this year, he did so at a government hospital. The same is true for his family: he refused to allow his daughter to have her molars removed at a private hospital, and his children attend state schools.” That is leadership. he has made the antiretroviral program for HIV the biggest in the world, essentially keeping 2 million people alive. he is working towards banning alcohol advertising so as to curb South Africa’s massive drinking problem. On the downside, his 10-point plan to overhaul the health system has yet to succeed, most likely because it will need more co-operation from the rest of government to succeeed i.e. he doesn’t have the political clout to fire people who are screwing up.
Ministers who are still too new to receive a report card include Yunus Carrim (Minister of Communications), Ben Martins (Minister of Energy).