The sudden resignation of the government’s policy guru, Joel Netshitenzhe, sent shockwaves through government circles on Tuesday.
Netshitenzhe was one of the few senior members of the administration of former president Thabo Mbeki who weathered the change in political masters, and remained a key figure in the Presidency under President Jacob Zuma. In his role as Director General of Policy Coordination and Advisory Services (PCAS), he was tasked with helping Minister for the Planning Commission Trevor Manuel with formulating policy.
Netshitenzhe tendered his resignation shortly after his scathing remarks at a recent meeting of Gauteng leaders, in Benoni on Friday, where he lambasted the African National Congress for trying to ”micromanage” government.
At the same time Netshitenzhe said government officials and public representatives are not respecting the people they serve.
”The conduct of people who are in positions of authority is not good, they are not respecting the masses of South Africa and suffer from bureaucratic arrogance.”
He also accused some ANC members of insisting that ANC cadres must remain in position despite the fact that ”a real misdemeanour is perpetrated”, referring to instances where ANC cadres are found guilty of corruption but they are kept in their positions due to their political currency.
Netshitenzhe also said information shows that some ANC leaders are fuelling service-delivery protests for their own purposes.
The Presidency said Netshitenzhe’s resignation follows ”discussion” and mutual agreement with Manuel.
”Mr Netshitenzhe has served in the national government since 1994. He was the first chief executive officer of the Government Communications and Information System. He was instrumental in establishing the PCAS in the Presidency, which he has headed since its formation,” the Presidency said in a statement.
”His contribution to the development of policy and in improving coordination of implementation across government has been invaluable and is highly appreciated.”