OP-ED Opinions 

News24.com | Inspire us, Mr President!

2019-05-17 06:00

President Cyril Ramaphosa has a golden opportunity to inspire the nation with his appointment of a Cabinet. He has to replace the same old boring names with new brooms. The country is ready to be surprised, writes Adriaan Basson.

Jeff Radebe. Lindiwe Sisulu. Baleka Mbete. The same old names appear on three “lists” of would-be cabinets circulating in the ANC. The lists are exceptionally uninspiring and most probably fake.

But there will be some truth to them. They are kites being sent up by different factions and agendas in the governing party, hoping to influence President Cyril Ramaphosa’s final selection of his A-team for the next five years.

The lists include the names of many ANC politicians who have served in the executive for 20+ years and who really deserve a break from full-time politics. If they couldn’t achieve what they had wanted to since 1994, they are not going to do it now.

The country is in desperate need for some new blood in the executive who will work with Ramaphosa to stimulate growth, strengthen social security and jail the corrupt.

The prospect of five more years of the likes of Radebe, Sisulu, and Mbete is depressing. They’ve had their turn under former presidents, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, and Jacob Zuma and Ramaphosa will hopefully be more innovative and daring in his final selection than the leak lists suggest.

It is true that Ramaphosa’s hands are bound to the extent that he may only appoint two ministers who are not members of Parliament to his cabinet. This limits any plans to bring in experts from outside, but two positions aren’t nothing.

The public will look closely at who these two non-MPs are and Ramaphosa must use the moment wisely to bring in undisputed experts to strengthen his hand.

What are the country’s two biggest crises? I would argue unemployment and corruption, with education a close third. If we don’t arrest massive unemployment, particularly under young people, and the fiscus continues to be looted by a connected elite, an Arab Spring of sorts may lie ahead in our future.

Angie Motshekga and Naledi Pandor will likely return as education ministers, which is good for stability in this critical sector. I don’t see anyone else on the ANC’s lists who will make for better education ministers unless Ramaphosa is adventurous and brings in someone like Professor Jonathan Jansen with his no-nonsense attitude to deal with the teachers’ unions once and for all. 

Which leaves the economy and corruption. Speculation is that Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will return for a short term to ensure stability, and may be succeeded by either Gauteng’s Barbara Creecy or former Limpopo MEC David Masondo.

While both Creecy and Masondo are interesting prospects and have no scandals hanging over them, I have a feeling that Ramaphosa will need a business heavyweight in his cabinet to assist him with raising serious foreign investment to grow the economy and create jobs.

The state simply doesn’t have enough capacity or money to create enough jobs on its own. Will Ramaphosa make a call to a Saki Macozoma, Reuel Khoza or Cheryl Carolus over the next few days? Time will tell.

It is pivotal that Ramaphosa appoints a strong, new justice minister to oversee the next few years of state capture prosecutions and a functioning, fearless National Prosecuting Authority. The justice minister must ensure that the NPA is properly funded to conduct these prosecutions and protected from political interference.

As much as I tried to, I simply cannot see anyone on the ANC’s list who fit this description. Radebe is punted on some of the lists to return to his old portfolio. This will be a massive mistake.

He oversaw the destruction of the NPA and was an active sponsor of disgraced former NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba and her merry ways. Although they are brothers-in-law, Ramaphosa should let Radebe retire in peace.

If I were Ramaphosa, I would use one of my non-MP positions to bring in a strong, seasoned jurist who understands politics for the job of the justice minister. South Africa has no shortage of them: Thuli Madonsela, Dikgang Moseneke, Yvonne Mokgoro, Geoff Budlender or Vusi Pikoli. Ramaphosa can make his pick.

Inspire us, Mr President. The country is ready!

– Basson is editor-in-chief of News24.

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