Cosatu and South African Communist Party leaders featured prominently in Jacob Zuma’s new Cabinet announced in Pretoria on Sunday.
In what appeared to be a major coup for the left, Zuma announced the appointment of seven leaders from the ruling pary’s alliance partners in key government areas — four as ministers and three as deputy ministers.
Cosatu and the SACP played a major role in securing Zuma the presidency of the ANC in 2007, which paved the way for him to take over the highest office on the land.
Among the key ministries allocated to the left is Economic Development, which will be headed by Cosatu’s clothing and textile [Sactwu] general secretary Ebrahim Patel. The Department of Trade and Industry will be led by SACP executive member Rob Davies while the Department of Higher Education and Training will be led by SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande.
The new Department of Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities will be led by Cosatu’s health union (Nehawu) president Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya.
SACP deputy general secretary was appointed deputy minister of the Department of Transport, while Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim and Yunus Carrim — both SACP leaders — were also appointed deputy ministers of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, formerly known as
the Department of Foreign Affairs, and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, respectively.
Alliance partners in the past accused former president Thabo Mbeki for marginalising the leftist leaders. Relations between the ANC and its allies have improved since Zuma took over as president.
Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini said: ‘We are happy that our consultation with the ANC [regarding the alliance partner’s representativity in the new Cabinet] paid off.”
Dlamini said Cosatu was happy that Zuma appointed alliance leaders to head key departments, seen as key to job creation.
‘The agenda that will take centre stage [in the new administration] is decent work. The people [Cosatu and SACP leaders] who have been appointed in this key areas have clarity on what needs to be done. That’s what we expect from them. As people who understand the plight of the poor, they know where we are coming from and where we need to go. Now that they have been put in positions of power, it’s left on them to deliver. We [Cosatu] declared during our last conference that this decade should belong to the poor,” said Dlamini, adding that Cosatu expected to see constructive changes within the next five years.
Dlamini said Cosatu expected to see a change in government policies that had not made any meaningful contribution to the lives of the poor South Africans.
Cosatu has repeatedly called for the review of the monetary and fiscal policies.
Dlamini said Cosatu was happy with the introduction of the planning commission headed by former finance minister Trevor Manuel as this would bring about a much improved coordination in government affairs.
‘What is also important is accountability because in the past, there was no proper coordination as ministers worked alone. That resulted in very scattered way to deliver,â€ said Dlamini.
SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka said the party was proud that Zuma saw the capability in SACP leaders to lead key government ministries.