Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s ability to identify problems and solve them, coupled with her diplomatic skills and determination, may be what’s needed to make the monitoring and evaluation ministry work.
Dlamini-Zuma’s predecessor, Jeff Radebe, has been criticised by, among others, the Democratic Alliance for being ineffective, failing to go beyond conducting imbizos and responding to crises after they had escalated.
Febe Potgieter-Gqubule, who served as Dlamini-Zuma’s deputy chief of staff at the African Union Commission (AUC), said her spearheading of long-term AU initiatives was an indication of her ability to devise and manage long-term strategy. Implementation mechanisms Dlamini-Zuma had driven, such as the member state levy and the alignment of member state budgets to include Agenda 2063 funding, were still working after her departure, Potgieter-Gqubule said.
“She also has 18 years of experience in South Africa’s government from a front-line department like health to Dirco [department of international relations and co-operation] and home affairs and has performed well in all three portfolios,” she said. “She has the understanding that governance is not about ticking boxes but about its impact on people.”
Dlamini-Zuma is credited with a series of successes at the health department, where she served between 1994 and 1999. She served two terms as international relations minister, from 1999 to 2009. Her third ministerial term, at home affairs, was cut short in 2012 when she was seconded to the AUC, where she served a five-year term as chairperson.
Nomfanelo Kota, the former director of media liaison at international relations, said Dlamini-Zuma’s ability to “bring warring parties together” and her willingness to consult those whose views would normally be ignored would assist in the new post.
“She also works very hard. There is no knocking off at 4.30pm and going home. She can start a meeting at 7pm and go through to 1am without batting an eyelid. Her staff won’t sleep,” Kota said.
Dlamini-Zuma’s new role gives her responsibility for evaluating, planning and monitoring government programmes to improve service delivery.
The department, which also oversees the National Youth Development Agency, has had clean audits every year since 2013-2014, but its critics say it replicates the functions of other departments and the Public Service Commission. Her department is also seen as ineffective because of legislative weaknesses.
The DA’s spokesperson on the presidency, Sej Motau, said her biggest challenge was that her ministry “has no teeth” to sanction dysfunctional departments or officials who were not performing. “The department is supposed to monitor and evaluate other government departments but, unfortunately, as the legislation stands now, they can only plead with people to do what they are supposed to do.”