Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF
Finance minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: RUVAN BOSHOFF

The DA has applauded President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to retain Tito Mboweni as finance minister, but questioned the appointment of several ministers, including Patricia De Lille.

“With a declining growth rate, increasing unemployment levels and an impending credit ratings downgrade, minister Mboweni’s re-appointment brings stability, which we hope will revitalise waning investor confidence,” said DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi.

“Minister Mboweni has shown [an] appetite to cut down on bailouts for failing state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and to tackle rising debt. He will, however, face an uphill battle from within the ruling party. He will only succeed with the required political backing,” he said.

The DA also backed the appointment of Naledi Pandor to head the international relations and co-operation ministry, saying she has been an efficient administrator and has, to date, remained free of corruption scandals. “She will have to work fearlessly to ensure that we return to a foreign policy based on human rights and economic opportunity,” said Malatsi.

He said former ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu is also a valuable addition to the cabinet. Mthembu was appointed minister in the presidency.

“He was a respectable chief whip of the ANC in parliament and had a consultative approach to key issues. This is a key quality in this ministerial position and Mthembu has the capacity to give [the president] honest advice and to bring change,” said Malatsi.

The inclusion of De Lille, who resigned from the DA following a protracted fight with the party’s leadership, was the major surprise of Ramaphosa’s cabinet announcement on Wednesday. De Lille, the only non-ANC MP to be included in the executive, was appointed to lead the reconfigured public works and infrastructure portfolio. She formed her Good party late in 2018, which went on to put up a relatively decent showing at the May 8 polls, winning two seats in parliament.

Malatsi said De Lille still needs to answer for allegedly unduly influencing the process of appointing a new Cape Town city manager by sending an SMS to a member of the selection panel stating: “I want to keep Achmat [Ebrahim], so score him highest. Thanks,” while she was still Cape Town mayor.

“In 2015, a forensic investigation uncovered serious allegations of misconduct on the part of the commissioner of the transport and urban development authority, Melissa Whitehead, concerning payments made to the bus company Volvo. The city manager, allegedly acting on minister De Lille’s instructions, did not table the report before the committee, so that action could be taken,” said Malatsi.

Major concern

The DA said the inclusion of Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (women, youth and people with disabilities), who unlawfully granted diplomatic immunity to former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe after she allegedly assaulted a model; and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (defence and military veterans ), who faces allegations of presiding over the awarding of tenders worth more than R1.7bn to tainted Bosasa, is a major concern.

The party also questioned the appointment of Blade Nzimande (higher education) whose leadership was ineffective during the “fees must fall” protests; Lindiwe Zulu (social development), who faces allegations of wasteful expenditure; and Thulas Nxesi (employment and labour), who was involved in the Nkandla scandal.

Said Malatsi, “SA needs women and men in the cabinet who realise that the title ‘minister’ is about serving the best interests of the people and not a status symbol. As the main opposition, the DA will ensure these ministers work hard to get their departments back on track to work for the betterment of our country.”