Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Manuel, communists feature in analysts' cabinet dream teams

April 28, 2009 / Business Report [SoUth Africa], By Donwald Pressly

President-to-be Jacob Zuma is likely to play his cards close to his chest as he ponders his cabinet team, but commentators believe it will include experienced players already in the cabinet - with a few newcomers thrown in.

Pan African Advisory Service chief executive Iraj Abedian said his dream team would include appointing Finance Minister Trevor Manuel as Deputy President with overall responsibility for economic issues. Abedian proposed that Jeremy Cronin, the deputy general secretary of the SA Communist Party (SACP), take up a new planning ministry that Zuma is likely to place in the presidency.

Abedian would move Health Minister Barbara Hogan - who replaced Manto Tshabalala-Msimang last year - to the finance portfolio. "She has years of experience chairing the finance portfolio committee, and is familiar with the budgetary issues and social concerns."

However, Steven Friedman, a political analyst, believed Pravin Gordhan should be transferred from the Sars to the finance ministry. According to Friedman, Gordhan had the "thoroughness needed".

He believed Manuel would be a good choice to head the proposed planning and co-ordination ministry, which is expected to have oversight responsibility on delivery.

But he said Cronin would also be a suitable candidate, as he would bring experience in transport. He is the outgoing national assembly transport portfolio committee chairman and a strong proponent of the bus rapid transport system. Another choice could be Zola Skweyiya, the Minister of Social Development, as he had proved capable of working with non-governmental organisations.

Friedman said Jeff Radebe, the Transport Minister, could return to his previous portfolio of public enterprises if it was retained. "This portfolio needs less political and more asset management skills," he said. It needed a person who could take decisions quickly.

Unisa professor Carel van Aardt proposed that Zuma retain Manuel and bring back Jabu Moleketi and his wife, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi.

The two resigned when Thabo Mbeki was recalled as president last year. According to Van Aardt, Moleketi should return as deputy finance minister to put his financial acumen to use and provide support to the Gautrain project.

He believed Fraser-Moleketi, the former minister of public service and administration, should head public enterprises, having built up considerable competence in dealing with state administration and public sector unions.

Metropolitan chief economist Rejane Woodroffe said that if Manuel was moved from finance, his director-general, Lesetja Kganyago, should be considered for the job, as he was a capable person and had worked closely with Manuel.

She believed it was crucial to retain Naledi Pandor as the minister of education to maintain stability. She suggested putting SACP general secretary Blade Nzimande in charge of public enterprises instead of education.

Friedman, too, believed that if this portfolio was retained, Nzimande might be a good choice. "There is nothing he can do there. They are already public enterprises; he can't nationalise (private entities)."

While Woodroffe thought Mandisi Mpahlwa should be retained at trade and industry, Abedian, Van Aardt and Friedman disagreed. Van Aardt said the portfolio required someone with a "strong understanding" of international competitiveness. Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe sprang to mind, he said.