The South African 2014 national elections are fast approaching, and the African National Congress (ANC) cabinet is in the spotlight. Jacob Zuma was appointed the new president of the ANC during the 2007 general elective congress, and his supporters made sure that he got the win in that race. During that conference, it was resolved to suspend the police’s top investigative unit, the Scorpions. The Scorpions were alleged to be a threat to Zuma and his success as president of South Africa. During this time, the National Prosecuting Authority had 783 charges of corruption against Zuma and these were dropped shortly before the national election.
After the successful victory in 2009, President Jacob Zuma constructed a much larger administration than his predecessors, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeke and Kgalema Motlanthe. When Zuma took office, many believe that he was obliged to recompense the comrades who rescued him from prison. Zuma created rewarding positions in his cabinet, administration and state controlled companies which resulted in the Zuma management becoming very bulky. The education portfolio was separated into two ministries thereby creating a basic and higher education portfolio; creating a new office with additional departments and both with director generals. Other ministries were created by Zuma which have been criticized by his detractors. Those critics charge that the National Planning Commission and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation departments were unnecessary creations.
The allocation of top positions caused duplication to appear in the Zuma cabinet. The Economic Planning, Public Enterprises, and Trade & Industry were allocated to various ministries, and the ministers engaged in these positions held intense and conflicting views on the economic planning. General feeling is that this sent perplexity to the market and potential investors.
The Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, was regarded as a communist and served as a union leader before the appointment into the Zuma cabinet. The left-wing political views of Patel, who created the New Growth Path (NGA) in 2011, portray a strong inclination toward job creation. It was the argument of the NGA that the Rand (South African currency) should be decreased, because having a strong Rand permits reductions in interest rates and contributes to credit creation and cheaper imports.
Patel acted as a representative of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) while serving as a member of the ANC’s cabinet. His views and arguments that a higher worth of the currency made South African manufactured and raw materials costly for exports, proved to be in error. At the beginning of 2014, the reduced value of the Rand did not lead to a flow in exports. Rather, exports from South Africa were decreased, although coal exports have not decreased and would have expected the volume to increase due to the weak rand.
COSATU have expressed belief that Patel did not drive the left-wing plan sufficiently, while receiving only a small amount of support from the SACP. He did, however, receive support from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, led by Rob Davies, a prominent communist in the Zuma Cabinet. Together, the responsibility to manage trade and industry was under the left-wing ministers. Davis published the Industrial Policy Plan (IPAP) in 2013, in line with Patel, and used this to strike at the strong Rand.
In emerging markets, the worth of the Rand and additional currencies depend on the general administration of the economy, trade and industry. South Africa, it is believed, could increase its economic growth if the infrastructure from roads to airports was given more attention.
Zuma has an opportunity to scale down the size of his administration with the upcoming general elections. The voice of a new cabinet may well address the issues pointed at by his critics if it is able to speak with one voice regarding the currency and expected economic growth. The focus on the ANC cabinet before the 2014 South Africa elections and the possibility of creating a more promising government poses an opportunity to create a sustainable future.
By Laura Oneale