Bets for the new cabinet
ANC prepares to put together a crack team to co-ordinate economic planning
Enoch Godongwana, the ANC’s economic policy tsar, is set for an influential role in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new administration, while finance minister Tito Mboweni seems set to return to the National Treasury. This is according to people familiar with the discussions in the party, as it prepares to put together a crack team to co-ordinate economic planning.
Godongwana is likely to play a role in a new unit in the presidency that will oversee technocratic planning and implementation. Ramaphosa is considering a ministerial team of 25 or 27, well-placed sources told the FM this week, down from the 34 he inherited from Jacob Zuma. The deputy ministers could be reduced by as much as a dozen, they said.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan is likely to remain responsible for managing state-owned companies, since the unbundling of Eskom and efforts to manage SAA’s runaway debt started under his watch.
New names set for the cabinet include David Masondo, a scholar and former member of the SACP, and Barbara Creecy, Gauteng’s finance MEC.
Ministers are expected to be announced after Ramaphosa’s inauguration on May 25, according to presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko.
The government has done its own research, in addition to the ANC’s, on the size and functioning of the cabinet, as one of the institutional reforms that will eventually be coupled with reductions in the size of the whole bureaucracy.
"Institutional reform has been one of Ramaphosa’s signature themes throughout his presidential campaign in the ANC and since taking over the reins in government," says political analyst Matlala Setlhalogile.
"Expectations are that the extent of the reorganisation could be similar to the one that took place in the 1990s, when the apartheid bureaucratic machinery was reorganised to usher in what was construed as a developmental public service."
The reconfiguration is aimed at helping the government to better manage the fiscus and public debt, which is now about 60% of GDP. Together with a widening budget deficit, this level of government debt remains a risk for the sovereign rating.
"However, the reconfiguration of cabinet will not achieve much where scaling back public debt is concerned," says Setlhalogile.
That may be true, but it is an indication of where Ramaphosa’s priorities lie — so in this respect, the cabinet cull is something likely to be welcomed by economists.