Business Leadership SA (BLSA) welcomes the reduced size of cabinet from 36 to 28 ministers. Despite our reservations with the appointment of two deputy ministers in several of the 14 ministries, which we believe has the potential to unnecessarily burden the fiscus, we are confident that the reconfiguration of ministries signals a clear commitment by this administration to put paid to its resolve to revitalise the economy and get more people into jobs. In this regard, we are especially pleased with the amalgamation of the Departments of Trade & Industry (DTI) and Economic Development. We hope that the combined department under Minister Ebrahim Patel will better align the DTI with the priority of growing the economy, reducing poverty and eliminating inequality. To achieve this, more focussed attention on inhibitors to the growth of labour-absorbing economic sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and services (particularly tourism) as key drivers of inclusive socio-economic growth is long overdue.
We are also pleased that Higher Education has been combined with Science and Technology. This is a historic opportunity for the new Department of Higher Education to sharpen the focus of our tertiary institutions on the kind of human capabilities needed to increase investment and catalyse the growth in Small and Medium Enterprises.
BLSA also joins South Africans in welcoming the transformation of cabinet, particularly the increased representation of women, who now constitute 50%, and a younger generation of ministers, which bodes well for the future. We especially commend the continuity in the Finance, Public Enterprises, and Basic Education ministries, which are all critical in accelerating the inclusive socio-economic growth agenda. We hope to see progress, particularly in the urgent task of stabilising Eskom’s power generation capacity. A new executive leadership under a capable and fearless CEO and board are a sine qua non for the power utility’s turnaround.
Let’s also put our shoulders to the wheel and provide clarity on land reforms. We trust that the merger of the Land and Agriculture departments under the capable and experienced leadership of Minister Thoko Didiza will prioritise this long overdue yet critical policy matter.
Finally, we are confident that the department of health under Minister Mkhize will bring order in the transition to accessible and affordable health services, particularly the supposed confusion surrounding the National Health Insurance initiative.
We hope that the continuity and change that has anchored the new structure and composition of the cabinet will stabilise our institutions, sharpen the capacity of government, and build efficiency and agility in decision-making and the delivery of services.
Overall, we remain hopeful that we are on the right track to rebuilding our state institutions. Clear definitions of the roles of deputy ministers would assist to calm the fears that such roles are ineffectual. We are delighted with the president’s steadfast commitment to zero tolerance on poor performance, malfeasance, and corruption. We stand by the president’s call that state capture should be defeated. We join all patriotic South Africans to commence the social solidarity agenda and vow to closely monitor all ministries. Let’s get to work.