2008 Cabinet report card — Part Two

How did SA's Cabinet members fare this year? The M&G rates their performances and offers analytic insight.

Ferial Haffajee: Of shooting and falling stars

What the scores mean
A: Take a bow. You are doing an excellent job
B: Good, but room for improvement
C: You're okay
D: Get your act together
E: Do yourself and the country a favour — resign
F: You're fired
G: Gone

 


Trevor Manuel

Trevor Manuel
Minister of Finance
Grade: A+ (2007: A)

He's the markets' darling, but that's not the reason Finance Minister Trevor Manuel gets an A+ this year.

 

When his technical resignation in September was met with a stock exchange fall of about R25-billion, Manuel's relationship with the markets came full circle. After Thabo Mbeki was ousted, Manuel resigned so that incumbent Kgalema Motlanthe could appoint his own Cabinet.

On his appointment as finance minister in 1996, the markets tumbled when he declared them 'amorphous” gods to which he would not bow.

 

Manuel continued his economic poli­cies this year and delivered a budget and medium-term budget policy statement with his hallmarks: increased spending on health, education and social services, a small surplus and healthy allocations for infrastructure — the line item he always describes as investment in the future.

 

His policy statement in October delivered a slightly more tempered message than previous years, coming as it did in the eye of the global economic firestorm. We are likely to go into a small budget deficit by 2009 but not to halt the spending trajectory — testament to his fiscal management. For this, he gets an A.

Manuel was also forced by global circumstance to temper his growth targets down from a fairly robust 4%. But he basked in the glory of his prudence and of South Africa's well-regulated financial markets, telling a Finmark conference: 'It's boring. I mean, there isn't a word in Zulu, or Afrikaans, that translates 'collateralised debt swaps' [the risky instruments that underpinned the crisis] — I've checked. So, we haven't gone there.”

Reading through his speeches, Manuel gives a highly coherent analysis of the financial crisis and its impact on South Africa. He spares global markets no criticism and has never been their uncritical supporter, as the left accuses him of being.

In various global forums this year, he has railed against the absence of effective regulation and lack of democracy in the governance of the Bretton Woods institutions. It is for this that he gets his plus.

Manuel believes in redistribution through globalisation and growth, a model that is anathema to the left, which believes that only the state can create equity and equality and that the economy must be shielded from external influences.

It is for this reason that Manuel is unlikely to remain finance minister for much longer, a decision he has clearly been grappling with. In September he said: 'In challenging times there is an unavoidable tension between the politics of exit and the exercise of voice, and we should not be surprised that the demands of loyalty are felt differently by people who view events through different windows.”

At that point, he had clearly decided on the exercise of voice over the politics of exit, but that was before his voluble spat in November with Irvin Jim, the new general secretary of the metal union, Numsa, who had told him to kowtow or ship out.

In 12 years he has never kowtowed, suggesting that the odds are on him shipping out. If he does, it will be a sad day.

 


Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Minister of Home Affairs
Grade: C- (2007: E)

Been to a home affairs office recently? It's getting better. Really. For the first time, the department now sets out time frames in which you will get an identity book, passport or visa, among other documents.

 

The turnaround time between application and receipt of an ID now averages 40 days instead of the 90 to 180 (or never) that it used to take. Similar improvements have been notched up for visa and passport applications.

Nine in 10 calls to the department's call centre are answered within 20 seconds, says the department's turnaround strategy document. We couldn't find an easy-to-dial number on the website, but did try the anti-corruption hotline, which was answered in less than three minutes. Not bad.

 

Whatever the accuracy of the department's claims, it's a near-revolution for numerical targets and deadlines of any sort to be met.

 

In addition, an agreement has been signed with the sector union to bring the notoriously lackadaisical staff into the new era. The carrot is improved working conditions (more people, more money, prettier offices), the stick a radical crackdown on corruption.

Director General Mavuso Msimang is a turnaround specialist who has introduced efficiencies into this department which is the starting point for life's essential bureaucracy: driving licences, state grants, the registration of births, deaths and marriages — you name it.

Msimang dealt with people issues first, assessing competencies (and finding large areas of incompetency), introducing large company support units (essential in getting the economy through a skills crunch) and improving service at the offices where ordinary South Africans interface with the state.

But what has this all to do with Mapisa-Nqakula? An uncharitable analyst would say the minister with the cherubic look still does not know her A (asylum application) from her V (visa), but she has to be accorded credit for giving Msimang the space in which to work. Ministers shine by putting in place the right top officials and she's done well on this count.

This is probably Mapisa-Nqakula's last grading as minister, as she was closely associated with former president Thabo Mbeki. She at least leaves on a note of improvement.

 


Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri

Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri
Minister of Communication
Grade: F (2007: F)

Matsepe-Casaburri has been an underperforming minister for years, but in 2008 she shifted her incompetence down a gear by actively preventing liberalisation of the sector.

 

Embarrassed by the Johannesburg High Court's ruling in favour of Altech, which took the minister to court to win the right for value-added network service (Vans) providers to provide their own networks, she attempted to appeal, before the court quashed her bid. But the proposed fee structures for new telecommunications licences could put a damper on the victory celebrations, as Vans could be hammered by a 30-fold increase in fees.

 

There are one or two bright spots. The Seacom cable is set to land in mid-2009, delivering much-needed, affordable international bandwidth. And Neotel has finally entered the market with its competitively priced converged voice and internet offerings.

 

But many opportunities have been missed because Matsepe-Casaburri is asleep at the wheel. The government is too heavily invested in the sector to be a policy director too; yet this year she oversaw further government investment by allowing the state to be tied into a 10% shareholding in the newly unbundled Vodacom until mid-2010.

A weak minister previously tied to Mbeki's apron strings, Matsepe-Casaburri is certain to be dropped after the election. But it is far from clear that her replacement will improve matters. Is the communications policy vacuum a product of her ineptitude, or does it suit the government to continue with the failed policy of 'managed liberalisation”, which allows it to rake in money from its investments in the major telecoms players?

 


Membathisi Mdladlana

Membathisi Mdladlana
Minister of Labour
Grade: C- (2007: E)

Mdladlana's strength and weakness has always been that he is a loudmouth who cannot hide his true opinions. This made it possible for him, alone among Mbeki's ministers, to tell journalists that Aids is caused by the HI virus. But this year it also landed him in hot water.

 

Prompted by the landmark ruling in the Pretoria High Court that South Africans of Chinese descent who were here before 1994 automatically qualified for full benefits under employment equity and black empowerment legislation, Mdladlana launched into what many condemned as a 'racist tirade” against local Chinese.

 

Less headline grabbing has been his department's performance in 2008. It has earned a place among dysfunctional government departments, such as home affairs, after receiving a qualified audit for the fourth consecutive year. And almost all the entities under Mdladlana's control, including the National Skills Fund, the Compensation Fund and the Sheltered Employment Fund, received qualified audits.

 

One major weakness of Mdladlana's term has been his failure to fill crucial vacancies in the department, the latest annual report of which shows a vacancy rate in excess of 800.

Despite Mdladlana's decision to use almost half the department's R1,7-billion budget this year to increase the number of departmental inspectors, there been little progress. The department has 700 inspectors, down from 1 500 four years ago.

 


Mandisi Mpahlwa

Mandisi Mpahlwa
Minister of Trade and Industry
Grade: E (2007: B-)

We've said it before and we see no reason to change our assessment: Mandisi Mpahlwa is a nice guy, but a pretty terrible trade and industry minister.

 

It is almost universally acknowledged now that the stewardship of the macro-economy by his former boss, Trevor Manuel, laid a basis for growth and that what is needed is attention to the 'real economy” that Mpahlwa handles.

It's an understatement to say there is a debate in government over what form that should take. The treasury would like to see more focus on skills, competitiveness and innovation, while the DTI and the presidency feel that the emphasis should be on protection of fragile industries and emergent sectors.

 

All they agree on are policies designed to encourage greater employment for the unskilled. For the rest there is a yawning gulf. Manuel's staff will tell you DTI has not formulated tight plans with clear objectives and measurable targets. People more sympathetic to the DTI say this is cover for ideological resistance to its more left-leaning­ approach. Either way, it is clear that for all the talk of a developmental state, South Africa has nothing resembling an industrial policy — and this is Mpahlwa's failure.

 

At his door, too, must rest responsibility for the misguided and confused quotas on Chinese textile imports — easily circumvented by trans-shipment despite the best efforts of customs authorities (witness the 93% surge in clothing imports from Zimbabwe) and of little benefit to local manufacturers.

That is only the most visible instance of an increasing recourse to protectionism, spearheaded by Deputy Minister Rob Davies, an energetic activist in World Trade Organisation negotiations.

One area the DTI is responsible for that has done extremely well is competition regulation, where landmark anti-trust rulings continue to pile up. Too much of this seems to be despite tepid support from Mpahlwa, however, including his unwillingness to finalise key appointments and ensure that the Competition Commission and Tribunal are adequately staffed.

There have been serious problems, too, with the omnibus new Companies Bill, a sweeping set of reforms that seems to be riddled with problems, unintended and otherwise, as a result of unwillingness to take advice. Combine that with ongoing muddles over empowerment scorecards and sector charters and it becomes clear that DTI is doing more to clog up the works of the real economy than to keep the wheels spinning.

 


Nathi Mthethwa

Nathi Mthethwa
Minister of Safety and Security
Grade: Too soon to say

Mthethwa's meteoric rise from chair of Parliament's minerals and energy committee to minister of safety and security in less than a year shows how much loyalty counts in the ANC.

 

Is it a coincidence that as ANC chief whip, five months before being appointed to Cabinet, Mthethwa unleashed a vicious anti-Scorpions­ harangue? The effect was to give impetus to the ruling party's opportunistic and flawed arguments on why the Scorpions should go, which had nothing to do with their crime-busting role and everything to do with protecting Jacob Zuma.

After replacing Charles Nqakula in the safety portfolio (good riddance), Mthethwa began by saying all the right things: corrupt police officials and crime lords would be his top priority; the police should not be headed by a commissioner who is on forced leave and awaiting his own corruption trial; and the police would arrest people for political intolerance and hate speech in the run-up to the elections.

Unfortunately, he also emulated his deputy Susan Shabangu's rhetorical demand that the police should 'fight fire with fire”. The dangers of such inflammatory speech in a gun-toting country are only too obvious. What South Africa needs is not more trigger-happy cops, but better crime-fighting strategies and informed and trusted police bosses to lead the pack.

Mthethwa has a huge task. He has done the macho loudmouth stuff and the politicking. Now he must get his hands dirty — and replacing Jackie Selebi would be a very good place to start.

 


Charles Nqakula

Charles Nqakula
Minister of Defence
Grade: Too early to tell, but D as former Minister of Safety and Security

Given the current fashion of collapsing names, perhaps this should be a report on 'Lekula”. Ordinarily we would say that the three months Charles Nqakula has been in his post, after Mosiuoa Lekota's resignation in September, are insufficient to assess his contribution.

 

Yet we have Nqakula's distinctive record at safety and security to go on, where he was absent and ineffectual. He allowed police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi to pursue never-ending and debilitating restructuring exercises in the South African Police Services, not to mention giving the commissioner free rein in his anti-Scorpions campaign and tolerating his dubious friendships.

 

So Nqakula should feel right at home at defence, which is also fairly resigned to absent and ineffectual leadership. He inherits a defence force that continues to be crippled by the costs associated with the Strategic Defence Acquisition (SDA) programme and the flight of key skills.

 

Lekota was criticised for his stalwart defence of the arms deal, but let us not forget former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein's account of how Nqakula was one of those who put the boot in when Feinstein tried to take on the party brass over allegations of corruption in the deal.

The latest defence department annual report discloses a large rollover on the SDA account and notes: 'Slower than usual aircraft deliveries on the A109 helicopter project and the Hawk trainer aircraft project have caused delays — in payments. A delay on the Gripen project, caused by performance issues, has delayed the last planned payment of financial year 2007/08.”

Reduced flying hours were ascribed to 'delay in the delivery of the A109, low A109 serviceability and fewer pilots available due to aircraft design problems”.

The reduced flying hours on the Hawk were 'a direct result of the lack of funding, aircraft, aircrew and technical specialists' availability.”

Fortunately, all indications are that Charlie is just warming the seat for someone else, like former SANDF chief Siphiwe Nyanda, who at least has the military experience and political clout to make a difference.

 


Naledi Pandor

Naledi Pandor
Minister of Education
Grade: B+ (2007: B)

The true successes and failures of education policies and ministers emerge only over time. By their nature, public education systems are unwieldy and resistant to quick fixes.

 

But Naledi Pandor has been in office for four years, with a team of long-serving senior bureaucrats in the national department. Add to the mix her reputation as an independent thinker, her decisiveness and her intolerance for slackness and conditions exist for turning around a system that has not delivered significant returns on investment in the past decade.

This was a year of action in line with Pandor's mantra of quality improvements in education. A good starting point was a renewed political commitment to early childhood development to ensure that all children who enter grade one by 2010 have had access to grade R.

In the critical foundation phase (grades R to three) Pandor's Foundations for Learning campaign got off the ground with focused support for the poorest schools in literacy and numeracy.

 

Pandor has had to face the fact that 10 years of outcomes-based education have not delivered the goods. Her pragmatic response has been to address shortcomings in areas such as teacher training.

 

This year also saw the introduction of the new school leaving qualification. How the labour market and tertiary institutions receive the class of 2008 will show whether the new curriculum is an improvement.

The multibillion-rand Kha Ri Gude mass literacy campaign, which Pandor appears personally to have driven, took off in April. It reached 360 000 learners, oversubscribed by 60 000.

By 2010 public universities will have received R5,9-billion in infrastructure development funds. This is the biggest capital injection in 20 years and next year universities will pitch for another R3,2-billion, also aimed at boosting graduate outputs in scarce skills.

If Pandor is given another term — by no means certain with communist boss Blade Nzimande hovering in the wings — the quality improvements she has worked for could become a firmer reality.

 


Jeff Radebe

Jeff Radebe
Minister of Transport
Grade: C (2007: C on general matters. F for eNaTIS)

If everything goes according to Jeff Radebe's plan, public transport will be the 2010 Soccer World Cup's legacy for South Africa. Public transport projects in the host cities have been allocated R13,6-billion and the transport ministry says most are on track for completion before 2010.

 

The government has also ramped up transport spending generally — on road infrastructure, the Gautrain, the Gauteng freeway scheme, airports and passenger rail.

The transport ministry says security has been boosted, resulting in a 36% drop in crime on trains and at stations. Johannesburg's rapid bus transport system is on track and Cape Town, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay are planning similar bus systems.

 

But Radebe still cannot bring the anarchic taxi industry aboard: angry taxi operators have disrupted meetings and publicly threatened these bus services. Only 20 000 of an estimated 100 000 taxis have been scrapped. How the target — 80% scrapped by 2010 — will be met is unclear.

 

A recent problem is the R1,2-billion shortfall in bus subsidies, which the ministry says is a result of increasing passenger volumes and rising fuel prices. And the Road Accident Fund desperately needs restructuring following the R2,5-billion lifeline thrown to it by treasury in the medium-term budget.

Radebe has to address all this with a 40% senior management vacancy rate in his department. But as a heavyweight ally of Jacob Zuma who can expect promotion after next year's election, he may soon be leaving these troubles behind.

 


Sicelo Shiceka

Sicelo Shiceka
Minister of Provincial and Local Government Affairs
Grade: Too soon to tell

Since his elevation to the Cabinet in September, the one-time Gauteng local government minister and National Council of Provinces representative has been travelling around the country familiarising himself with the work of his department.

 

He owes his rise to his Zuma loyalties, but he is likely to find his portfolio a poisoned chalice. Neither of his predecessors, Sydney Mufamadi and Valli Moosa, succeeded in turning the inefficient and graft-ridden third tier of government into the service-providing powerhouse envisaged by the ANC.

Shiceka is about to complete the ANC's drive to resolve one of the most intractable local government conflicts by shifting Khutsong from North West to Gauteng. The Bills for reincorporation are before Cabinet and are being published for public comment.

However, he has not shown a similar urgency on the demarcation complaints of communities in Moutse in Mpumalanga and Matatiele in the Eastern Cape. But he has prioritised the issue of traditional leaders, with a proposal for the establishment of a department of traditional areas due to be submitted to Cabinet next year.

 


Lindiwe Sisulu

Lindiwe Sisulu
Minister of Housing
Grade: B (2007: A for policy, B for practice)

In 2008 Lindiwe Sisulu handed over more state-funded houses than any previous minister — and they were proper houses with bathrooms and two bedrooms where families can live decent lives.

 

She also put the Housing Development Agency Bill through both houses of Parliament, creating a potentially effective tool for the removal of bottlenecks in housing delivery.

Among other things, the Bill should stop municipalities in financial straits from selling state land to the highest private bidder — almost invariably for the construction of townhouses and golf estates, rather than housing for the poor.

 

Sisulu's forte is that she is not shy of dreaming large. A sharp operator, she understands the issues, has the statistics at her fingertips and is in full control of her department.

 

The minister's major weakness is her lack of interest in informal settlements and the realities faced by people who live in squatter settlements. Because Sisulu and her department are so quick to resort to removing the homeless, they are increasingly embroiled in legal action, costing the government much goodwill.

The decomposing albatross around the minister's elegant neck remains the N2 Gateway housing project — supposedly a flagship slum clearance scheme. With the deadline for completion end-2006, only 704 of the projected 20 000 units have been built.

Community resistance to removals is the main reason for the standstill. Earlier this year the Joe Slovo shack community lost its case in the Cape High Court, but will now approach the Constitutional Court in a bid to force the government to adopt a housing strategy allowing them to return once the area has been developed.

Sisulu has fought the community tooth and nail, highlighting the fact that she has no plan that does not include the forced removals of poor people to the periphery of cities.

 


Lindiwe Sisulu

Zola Skweyiya
Minister of Social Development
Grade: A+ for a consistent performance over 10 years (2007: A)

Those who work under Zola Skweyiya say he is a hard taskmaster — but not a hard man. In his two terms Skweyiya's compassion for the old, unemployed and child-headed households has been palpable.

 

A long-running joke in his department is that if he was given the national budget, he would hand it all to the poor. The truth, though, is that he is a realist who believes in restoring the dignity of the poor by providing opportunity, rather than creating dependency on the state.

He has incorporated access to education and health into the grant system to create an enabling environment for economic activity.

If departments like health, education and home affairs were run like his, inter-departmental initiatives like early childhood development centres would be far more effective in empowering the poor.

 

The government's decision to increase the child support grant gradually to cover 18-year-olds is, in no small part, the result of Skweyiya's advocacy. The means test for social grants was recalculated this year, with the threshold rising to R2  200 a month for both rural and urban areas. The promulgation of the Social Assistance Amendment Act is already resulting in the phased equalisation of state pensions.

 

Skweyiya has responded quickly to the global economic crisis, setting up a R124-million distress fund this year for those in dire need.

A culture of accountability and transparency is being developed in the department and its grant-dispensing arm, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). Since the special investigations unit (SIU) was enlisted three years ago, 333 000 irregular social grants have been removed from the system, saving government R1-billion a year.

This year his department has focused on the plight of children, readying the country for the implementation of the Children's Act, which defines the responsibility of parents and caregivers and allows for a register to protect children from abuse and neglect.

Early childhood development centres have been rolled out and Skweyiya has urged earlier uptake of the child support grant, especially for children younger than six months.

With an eye on the breakdown of family structures, falling adoption rates and South Africa's 1,5-million orphans, Skweyiya has called for more adoptions. A register of suitable children and prospective adoptive parents has been created.

According to Sassa, 157 000 cases of foster care are waiting to be finalised. The backlog is attributed to a social worker shortage. Fuelled by an exodus abroad, the shortage mars Skweyiya's report card.

The department has signed an agreement with Cuba which may see more than 9 000 unemployed youths trained and working with children by 2010. Youth training initiatives, like the Masupatsela Youth Pioneer Project launched this year, also seek to remedy the skills shortage.

 


Buyelwa Sonjica

Buyelwa Sonjica
Minister of Minerals and Energy
Grade: F (2007: B)

Sonjica was an unlikely choice for minerals and energy. She had been underwhelming at the more low-key water affairs and forestry ministry. Now she is nominally in control of the regulatory and infrastructural plumbing that keeps the heart of the economy pumping. In 2008 the pipes have been leaking badly.

 

The year began with an unprece­dented crisis at Eskom, with blackouts shutting down large swathes of the economy, including the mines. The government's response was belated, but the admission that the blackouts were a national emergency helped to bring the immediate crisis under control.

Much of the credit for that, however, rests with business and the presidency — there was little sense that Sonjica was in control. There has still been no admission of political responsibility for the mismanagement at the root of the problem.

 

The cancellation of the government's nuclear build programme on affordability grounds makes sense, but leaves serious uncertainty over the future of our energy supply. The ongoing failure of Sonjica's department to develop a credible renewable energy strategy represents a missed opportunity of massive proportions.

 

Her defenders point out that in all these areas she shared responsibilities with the imperious Alec Erwin. Much can indeed be blamed on Erwin but it does not excuse her for the utter confusion surrounding the government's energy plans. And it has no bearing on Sonjica's handling of the mining sector.

The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act gives her immense discretion in deciding whether mining companies have adequately complied with empowerment rules to qualify for the conversion of their rights, leaving huge uncertainties for miners with multibillion-rand investment plans.

Anglo-American is the most prominent example. Chief executive Cynthia Carrol thought she had resolved that company's long-running rights battle, only to be bluntly told she had not and that the government was unconvinced that senior black managers had enough operational responsibility.

If a multinational with huge resources devoted to compliance faces such problems, it is not surprising that smaller firms struggle. Nor is it surprising that legal challenges to the administration of the law are piling up.

The upshot has been stagnation, even when prices were climbing. Now that they are declining, ham-fisted regulation is likely to compound the downturn. Safety would be a better place to expend effort.

People who know the department well say Sonjica has little power over Director General Sandile Ngoxina. And there are suspicions that empowerment rules are used as cover to favour well-connected cronies, including the ANC's Chancellor House front.

 


Makhenkesi Stofile

Makhenkesi Stofile
Minister of Sport and Recreation
Grade: F (2007: C)

What does Makhenkesi Stofile actually do for his fat ministerial salary? The Sports Amendment Act passed last year allows him to intervene in sporting matters, but he has been largely invisible this year.

 

Stofile should be the dominant voice in South Africa on sport, but he has been overshadowed by the loudmouthed chair of Parliament's sports committee, Butana Komphela, particularly on issues of racial transformation.

He cannot escape responsibility for Bafana Bafana's failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, a huge embarrassment for a nation hosting the 2010 World Cup. He should be using his influence to reshape the South African Football Association and give practical expression to the endless rhetoric about football development.

But the country's biggest embarrassment was in August when the 136 athletes who made up the SA Olympics team won a single medal at the Beijing Games, lagging behind Kenya, Algeria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. A clear-cut remedial plan for the 2012 London Olympics is yet to emerge from his office.

When Fifa president Sepp Blatter visited South Africa he bemoaned the lack of hype here about the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2010 World Cup. Stofile, who sits on the 2010 board, has done little to lift the profile of these events in the public mind.

His major contribution this year came after a sports indaba in Durban when the Springbok emblem was declared an apartheid symbol that should be removed. Coming startlingly alive, Stofile declared that government is the rightful owner of the emblem, although legal firm Spoor and Fisher insists it belongs to the South African Rugby Union. His handling of the issue, in a sport he relates to strongly, has been poor.

 


Enver Surty

Enver Surty
Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
Grade: Too early to say

Enver Surty's rise to this heavyweight portfolio was one of the biggest surprises of the Cabinet reshuffle. Until now he was better known within the ANC than to the public, having served on the party's constitutional committee and as its negotiator on the Bill of Rights during constitutional negotiations.

 

Immediately after being sworn in as a minister, Surty was caught up in the public outcry over the disbanding of the Scorpions and did his duty in Parliament by mouthing government spin on the unit. But he continues to be perceived as a credible minister as he came on to the scene when the unit's fate was already sealed.

He has been cautious on other sensitive issues. On Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe's battle with the Constitutional Court, he said he does not believe judges should litigate against one another, while acknowledging their right to do so. In a similar vein he has followed Luthuli House by labelling widespread claims of a threat to the judiciary and the rule of law 'exaggerated”, while also criticising attacks on the judiciary as undermining the integrity of the courts and the criminal justice system.

He consults widely, is known as a good listener, and is passionate about making sure the courts are accessible to ordinary South Africans. He appears to have the respect of the legal profession, which should stand him in good stead in ensuring its cooperation in implementing the Legal Practice Bill, intended to create a unified legal profession.

 


Marthinus van Schalkwyk

Marthinus van Schalkwyk
Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
Grade: B (C on environment; A on tourism) (2007: B-)

Marthinus van Schalkwyk has earned a reputation on the international circuit as a climate change activist. But while he was jetting off to conferences, several developments on the home front have caused alarm among ­environmentalists.

 

Their concerns included the granting of a mining licence for the Wild Coast dunes, rampant rhino poaching, approval of a new coal-fired power station in Mpumalanga and a new international airport on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast next to a crucial swallows' roosting­ site.

Cabinet finally approved the long-awaited National Framework for Sustainable Development in July, but implementation could take years. In the meantime development pressures are growing: WWF-SA reported in October that the average South African environmental footprint is 2,1 global hectares.

 

On the positive side, the minister's achievements in moving climate change on to the local political radar were impressive. He also gave notice to industry and business that mandatory reporting on greenhouse gas emissions was on the cards. And as president of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, he succeeded in getting an ambitious roadmap adopted for Africa's post-Kyoto Protocol negotiations.

 

Important legislation enacted this year included the Integrated Coastal Management Bill, the Waste Bill and legislation that extended the powers of the Green Scorpions.

Van Schalkwyk's department received an unqualified audit report and spent 99% of its budget allocation in the last financial year.

A major coup was the announcement in September that the Marine Living Resources Fund had received an unqualified audit report. The fund finances the operations of the Marine and Coastal Management branch and it was a remarkably quick turnaround from bankruptcy in 2006.

Tourism figures showed foreign arrivals increased 7,8% in the first seven months of the year to 9,1-million — close to the target of 10-million for 2010. More than 7% of all jobs in the country exist either indirectly or directly because of this sector.

Being a frequent flyer himself, Van Schalkwyk recognised the need to provide visitors with options for mitigating their carbon emissions by integrating climate change offsets in his Draft Tourism Growth Strategy for the next five years.

 


Lulama Xingwana

Lulu Xingwana
Minister of Land and Agriculture
Grade: D+ (2007: D+)

Most of Lulu Xingwana's woes this year concerned the Land Bank, where one scandal after another forced former president Thabo Mbeki to intervene. The bank was yanked from under Xingwana and handed to the treasury for repair — a slap in the face for her.

 

Her department continues to lag far behind targets for land reform, admitting that 50% of such projects have failed — a major indictment given that the promotion of small black commercial farming has been a central plank of the government's reform efforts.

 

Xingwana's substitute for successful small farmer promotion is aggressive populist grandstanding towards large, mainly white agriculture. The government's relationship with this major export sector and supplier of food to the nation remains strained.

 

Non-government activists in the land and agriculture field sigh about her performance this year. 'While she hasn't been bad, she hasn't done anything significant either,” one academic commented.

The academic added that the legal challenge to the controversial Communal Land Act, seen by many as an apartheid-era law, which hands excessive power to undemocratic and unaccountable traditional authorities, is a blot on the ANC government's record.

2008 Cabinet report card: Part One

 

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