by S.A Government Agency News

New ministers to be sworn in

Political reshuffling of cabinet members

New cabinet ministers will be sworn in today at the Union Building, Pretoria

During a special media briefing held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon, President Zuma announced that the new Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will be Lechesa Tsenoli, previously Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform.

The Human Settlements portfolio will now fall under the leadership of Connie September, while the new Minister of Communications will be Yunus Carrim. Transport Minister Ben Martins will move to Energy, while Minister Dipuo Peters moves to Transport.

On Wednesday, the Presidency moved to emphasise that as President, Zuma did not need to give reasons for changing his Cabinet.

“The Presidency has noted complaints from some media houses and commentators that President Jacob Zuma did not provide reasons when announcing changes to the National Executive… the President of the Republic uses his prerogative when appointing members to the National Executive. He does not need to provide reasons.”

A quick examination of their background indicates that many of the new Cabinet members have years of political experience behind them that would allow them to do well in their new responsibilities.

Tsenoli, for instance, has been a Member of Parliament since 2004. Prior to that, he was a member of the Free State provincial government from 1999.

A former journalist and academic with strong struggle credentials, Carrim has been a Member of Parliament since 1994. He served on several structures of the ANC and the South African Communist Party.

A very difficult task in the communications portfolio awaits Carrim, who has to oversee South Africa’s switch from analogue broadcasting signal to digital. The switch from analogue to digital requires that the government distribute between five and seven million decoders to poor households.

Observers will also look to him to resolve the on-going disputes at the SABC and ensure the public broadcaster has a permanent board, preferably before the end of the year.

September has been in the National Assembly since 1999. She chaired the portfolio committee on water affairs and forestry. According to Who’s Who Southern Africa, she holds a Master’s Degree in Economics.

The Energy portfolio remains crucial to government. Despite the success of installing over 5.6 million new electricity connections since 1994, Census 2011 showed that there were still areas with lack of access to electricity, such as Mbizana, Matatiele, uMsinga, uMhlabuyalingana, uMkhanyakude and informal settlements in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni metros, among others.

Martins will have to supervise the implementation of the Integrated Energy Plan, a planning instrument to determine the most appropriate approach to meeting South Africa’s energy needs up to 2050.  

In May, the outgoing Energy Minister Dipuo Peters announced that the plan was ready to be taken through a robust public stakeholder consultation process. Martins will also have to deal with the negative developments within the national oil company, PetroSA.

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Issue 68