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Cyril's inbox: What to do

2019-05-19 23:02

As President Cyril Ramaphosa reconfigures government functions, including possibly removing the planning function from the department of monitoring and evaluation and locating it in the presidency, he is receiving inputs and advice on how to make the next five years a success.

Ramaphosa is expected to announce his new Cabinet soon after his inauguration on Saturday, but City Press understands that he has been prioritising finalising plans for a restructured government. This involves reorganising departments and merging some, resulting in a leaner structure.

On the back of declining ANC support he faces pressure to dismantle the corruption infrastructure that got entrenched throughout all spheres of government under the administration of his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

Those close to Ramaphosa told City Press that Enoch Godongwana, ANC head of the economic transformation subcommittee in the national executive committee (NEC), could be brought in to head planning in the presidency if Ramaphosa went ahead with the plan. Godongwana has always expressed a wish to work outside government.

FOCUS ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT

ANC Veterans’ League president Snuki Zikalala said Ramaphosa’s corruption-busting initiatives should extend to municipalities across the country if the ANC was to survive the upcoming 2021 local government polls.

The imminent threat of the ANC’s support deteriorating further, said Zikalala, made it imperative that Ramaphosa appoint a minister “with balls of steel” to the portfolio of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) to tackle errant municipal officials and ensure that the ANC government redeems itself and delivers services.

“You need to fix Cogta, which is key to service delivery. If you do not, then you do not win the 2021 local elections. You have to fix municipalities and go in there with a sledgehammer and beat the hell out of them,” Zikalala told City Press in an interview this week.

ANC Veteran's League president Snuki Zikalala

He said ANC members needed to appreciate that service delivery should precede the interest of factions. “It is about making sure that even when promoting black-owned companies to provide services to the poor, those must be legitimate operations.”

The prospective Cogta minister had to be someone “not afraid to go in there and say: I’m cleaning”.

“Those who are found wanting must be dealt with and there must be consequences at the highest level. If you arrest the mayors and heads of departments, then the small rats will run away.”

It was “unacceptable for children to be using pit toilets after 25 years of democracy. This happens in black townships and rural areas and these are the people who vote for us.”

He said 10 million people voted for the ANC and the party had fewer than two million members, “so we must make sure that those eight million people are serviced properly and get quality services”.

COSATU EYES TREASURY

Insiders in Cosatu said this week that the trade union federation would lobby for an opportunity to second a number of academics and economic thinkers to Treasury as technocrats — irrespective of who becomes minister.

“They are progressive academics and economic thinkers who would go there and temper and neutralise the Treasury from this addiction it has to neoliberalism. That would allow for new ideas and an honest debate on what the South African state and government should look like.”

On Friday Cosatu’s political commission was expected to thrash out the proposal in anticipation of making a secondary input before Ramaphosa finalises Cabinet appointments.

Cosatu’s previous efforts to contest Treasury were described as “vulgarised” and not effective, after former finance minister Malusi Gigaba brought in leftist academic Chris Malikane as an adviser. The move, however, failed to deliver the expected impact.

Cosatu eyes treasury

“We are putting forward something that would be about transforming the character of the economic cluster in general, regardless of who becomes ministers in those portfolios,” said an insider.

Cosatu would also push for economic cluster ministries to be merged and reduced to three at most. “Rather have three solid departments that could push back against the power that is Treasury, because it just wipes them away when it comes to real questions.”

LIMITED CHOICES

Ramaphosa was expected to cut down on government departments and bring competent people to his new Cabinet, “but even most of his people in the ANC are not that competent, including in the NEC”, according to an alliance leader.

“We are having big problems that need decisive leadership. He would have difficulty justifying why he needs to retain some of his people.”

The alliance leader said some of the people allied with Ramaphosa were “general functionaries and careerists”.

“Some of them would have their hand up and say ‘I never stole anything.’ But the question is: What impact have they had since being in Cabinet for decades or more?”

Among the options at Ramaphosa’s disposal would be to “play the women and youth card, which would dislodge his opponents and make it difficult for older people to undermine his decision, because they would lose sympathy”.

Ramaphosa had previously shown preference for young female minds when he appointed Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams as the communications and postal services minister, and economist Trudi Makhaya as his adviser.

Parliament will elect the speaker and president on Wednesday.


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June 23 2019