More deadwood that escaped the chop

Giving the lie to claims that President Jacob Zuma’s reshuffle aims to clear out deadwood and improve Cabinet performance are the many ­underperformers who were spared the axe. Why, if service delivery is the issue, are the following ministers still in office?

Richard Baloyi
The public service and administration minister contributed to the most devastating public service strike in recent memory by his inept handling of negotiations. The more he announced that a breakthrough had been achieved, the more intractable the strike seemed to become.

The dispute was settled only after the intervention of party heavyweights. He still faces the trade unions’ wrath over his department’s slowness in implementing the occupation-specific dispensation for ­public servants’ pay.

Baloyi has made several ant-corruption pledges but he is moving at a snails pace in implementation.

Siyabonga Cwele
If his wife, Sheryl, is found guilty of drug trafficking, State Security Minister Cwele himself represents a security threat to South Africa. Even if she is cleared, her association with drug mules and criminals—which he either ignored or knew nothing about—must raise questions about his fitness for this crucial position.

Cwele, who did not qualify to represent the ANC in the National Assembly last year because he was so low on the party’s candidate list, made it only after the list was juggled following the elections.

Could it be that he is so grateful for his position that he is taking instructions and not applying his mind to the many expressions of alarm, both at home and abroad, about the Protection of Information Bill? Cwele seems to have little understanding of the constitutional precepts of government transparency and freedom of expression.

Sicelo Shiceka
The cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister has behaved like a bull in a china shop, chopping and changing his department and forcing officials to approve questionable expenditure.

One of his first acts was to force out the previous director general, Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela, who had started investigating him.

Earlier this year the Mail & Guardian also exposed the false claim in his CV that he holds a master’s degree in political economy from the University of the Free State.

A forensic audit report by Volker Wattrus & Mkhize found that his department had flouted procurement processes and the Public Finance Management Act because of pressure exerted by Shiceka’s office.

The investigators also established that suppliers engaged in “cover quoting”, where multiple quotations are submitted from the same entities purporting to be in competition.

Sources in the department told the M&G that no action has been taken against those responsible. The department has always denied impropriety.

The forensic auditors interviewed staff in the department who complained of pressure from the minister’s office to make funds available to pay suppliers, despite clear evidence of irregularity.

After seven successive clean audits there are now fears that the next will be qualified.

Shiceka speaks in grandiose terms about the transformation of local government, but he has delivered very little since taking over the portfolio in September 2008.

Rapule Tabane

Rapule Tabane

Rapule Tabane is the Mail & Guardian's politics editor. He sometimes worries that he is a sports fanatic, but is in fact just crazy about Orlando Pirates. While he used to love reading only fiction, he is now gradually starting to enjoy political biographies. He was a big fan of Barack Obama, but now accepts that even he is only mortal. Read more from Rapule Tabane

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