/ 20 February 2018

Leave Cabinet decisions to the president, Pandor tells opposition

“There was a very strong call that government must act speedily to implement free higher education for young people from poor and working class background
“There was a very strong call that government must act speedily to implement free higher education for young people from poor and working class background

Opposition parties should leave decisions regarding assembling a new Cabinet to South Africa’s new president, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has told the National Assembly.

Pandor was the last speaker in Parliament on Monday during a marathon 10-hour joint debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), delivered on Friday.

The minister – a dark horse tipped to be appointed deputy president in Ramaphosa’s expected new Cabinet – played the “sweeper” role for her party on Monday in replying to the previous speakers.

In a very composed rebuttal, Pandor welcomed the input of opposition leaders such as ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe, but said they should allow the new president to exercise his prerogative.

“I do say to him, and other colleagues, that they should leave it to you to choose your Cabinet, if you wish to,” Pandor said to the House while looking at Ramaphosa.

“They should really leave it to yourself to decide.”

The MPs in the ANC benches agreed with her, applauding and shouting, “Yes!”

ANC ‘resolute’ over land policy

Pandor performance gave her chances of becoming the new deputy president a great boost, with her name top trending on Twitter as at 20:00.

She took her time to respond to most speakers on Monday.

“I should also assure [EFF leader] Mr Malema that we are resolute in introducing land expropriation without compensation, on the basis agreed upon and set out by our national party at its 54th elective conference,” she continued.

Malema could be seen nodding his head in agreement at Pandor’s assurance.

“We also Mr President, assure Mr Malema that he should not have sleepless nights, because Mr Ramaphosa will be President Ramaphosa following the general elections of 2019,” she taunted to laughter from the EFF benches.

She also acknowledged as very good a speech by EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu, who had given Ramaphosa various complex suggestions on how to improve revenue and retain it through the South African Revenue Service.

Pandor questioned DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s offer to work with a Ramaphosa-led government.

“I noted with interest that the honourable Maimane offered his hand, and then quickly took it away.

“Too nervous to be resolute in joining a national programme toward radical transformation,” she charged.

‘Embarrassed’ for Lekota

In response to Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota, who earlier had questioned the ANC’s stance on the land issue, Pandor said she was embarrassed for the former Robben Island political prisoner.

“As to the honourable Lekota, well he spoke and then left. I sadly have to say I found his contribution rather embarrassing,” she said.

“I couldn’t understand how a leader in the struggle who had suffered in prison with strictures, and understands the dispossession among our people in the country, a person who would have that rooted in his political education, should understand that we have nothing but an obligation to repair that history.”

“When you ask who is our people, of course all our people are our people, but when we talk about land, it is those who have been dispossessed that we want to have access to that land.

Pandor agreed with two DA MPs, Zakhele Mbhele and Karen Jooste, who sit on the portfolio committees of police and social development respectively.

Policing at train stations and railways needed more funding and more training, and the government’s social grants scheme should not be seen as an end in itself in the fight against poverty, she agreed.

Policing, summits, social cohesion

The EFF was very critical of Ramaphosa’s plans to hold various summits on key national issues.

“As a person who works very closely with NGOs, who feels that government does not reach out to them sufficiently, I found it rather amazing that the intention to reach out to people could be regarded as an exercise in futility.

“It is exactly the correct approach.”

In response to APC MP Themba Godi, who said the idea of a rainbow nation was a fallacy in a country that was predominantly black African, she said government and the public must never tire of pursuing the dreams of a united South Africa.

“It is something we should build towards. It is a vision, a dream, and something we should not give up on. I really disagree with you that it is something we won’t achieve.

“But all South Africans should feel they belong in our country, and we should create the conditions for that to happen. That is our mandate, and we must execute in that regard.”

She received a standing ovation from the ANC caucus as she left the podium.

President Ramaphosa will reply to the speaker’s himself on Tuesday from 14:00. — News24