Unlike the storm that followed his appointment as finance minister, the announcement that Des van Rooyen is now the minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs has been met with a resounding “meh” from those at the heart of his new portfolio – even though South Africa is just months away from municipal elections.
But although the public has been left with the perception that Van Rooyen was a disaster as the mayor of Merafong, some of his new constituents are cautiously optimistic.
The South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) initially expressed concern about Van Rooyen’s appointment, but this week spokesperson Papikie Mohale said it was unlikely to make much difference to the elections.
“I don’t think his appointment will affect the way people will vote. The only thing which might [affect the vote] is if he’s unable to deliver. We hope that his appointment will be in the interests of service delivery,” he said.
Van Rooyen also served as the head of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) in North West province. Salga spokesperson Tahir Sema said: “There is already commitment from the department that programmes that were already in place will continue to be in place. However, we are yet to meet with him and when we do we will raise our concerns.”
Sema said Salga would tell Van Rooyen that it was “crucial” that municipalities were stabilised, that their finances were in order “and that they are ready and willing to deliver basic services”.
He said Van Rooyen’s local government experience would aid him. “Together with that, we are confident that he will be able to discharge his duties. We welcome him and wish him well.”