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Cabinet Report Cards 2022

The report cards were compiled by:
Sarah Smit
Anathi Madubela
Emsie Ferreira
Eunice Stoltz
Eyaaz Matwadia
Khaya Koko
Lesego Chepape
Lizeka Tandwa
Luke Feltham
Mandisa Nyathi
Paddy Harper
Sarah Smit
Sheree Bega

Illustrations by Carlos Amato

Cabinet Report Cards 2022
Cabinet Report Cards Archives 2012-2021

For the past two years, the majority of ministers the Mail & Guardian has contacted for comment on meeting departmental targets and progress — or lack thereof — on key deliverables has been met with silence.

Some ministers, even though they are public servants, believe they do not have to account to the public because they “signed their performance agreements with President Cyril Ramaphosa”.

Last year the treasury said the minister is bound by the performance agreements and the periodic assessments performed by the department of planning, monitoring and evaluation. “Therefore, the ministry is of the view that it would [be] unhelpful to participate in a parallel evaluation process.”

This year Enoch Godongwane’s office simply did not respond. He is not alone.

In 2021, Siya Qoza on behalf of Aaron Motsoaledi, said the home affairs minister had to “respectfully decline to comment … “because the minister has signed a performance agreement with the president”.

This year he did not respond. Yet Motsoaledi’s performance has been below average and has declined over the past three years. Parliament has raised several issues throughout the year including the long-awaited Department of Home Affairs Bill, and why the Border Management Act could not be rolled out to 11 ports of entry. The department has inadequate financial and human resources, front office facilities management is poor, and IT infrastructure vandalism is rife.

Ramaphosa first mentioned the performance agreements the ministers have been hiding behind at the State of the Nation address in 2020. He promised that by signing them ministers would strengthen the capacity of the state and increase accountability.

The agreements were signed that year and made public.

“We see these performance agreements as the cornerstone of a new culture of transparency and accountability, where those who are given the responsibility to serve — whether as elected office bearers or public servants — do what is expected of them.”

The question is: how is the capacity of the state strengthened and accountability increased without transparent monitoring? When asked about monitoring ministers’ performances, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Mangwanya, said that although the agreements were published the actual monitoring reports, or whether they have happened, will not be made public.

“Performance agreements with ministers and their subsequent assessments are matters that are between the employer, namely the president and the employee, which is the minister/s,” said Mangwanya.

He explained that the Constitution provides for Parliament to play an oversight role of the executive and state organs. Therefore the ministers are subjected to regular performance assessments by parliament and, by extension, the public.

But some ministers do not agree. For instance, the spokesperson for Ebrahim Patel, the minister of trade, industry and competition, said: “Unfortunately, no response from the minister’s office.”

Among others, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams (small business development), Angie Motshekga (basic education) and Blade Nzimande (higher education) also failed to account for their performances this year.

The “minister of condolences” Nathi Mthethwa, as always, felt he had nothing to say about his dismal performance in the department of sports, arts and culture.

Besides his department’s ludicrous decision to erect a 100m, R22 million South African flag pole in the name of national unity, there was little else to report.

If there were any score lower than an F, he would get it. He has been the lowest performing minister in the past three years. This year parliament noted that the department had not met targets, questioned its progress on matters such as social cohesion, athletes and artists difficulties because of Covid lockdowns and underspending of the budget.

But, as evasive and combative as some ministers may be, the M&G will continue to hold a mirror before them so that they — and we — can reflect on their performance. This ensures that you are an informed #ActiveCitizen and the powerful who lead this country are held accountable.