Cabinet Report Card 2016: Another year of Zuma, another year of government failing the people
8 December 2016
Today we present the DA’s 2016 Cabinet Report Card, a comprehensive assessment of President Zuma and his Cabinet, which reflects a wholly unaccountable government that prioritises the narrow political interests of the ANC ahead of the needs of our country and its people.
No one can deny the fact that 2016 has been a tumultuous year for South African politics, and for our country at large. The ANC government has done little to mitigate rising unemployment; the devastating impact of state capture on our frail economy; a drought which has threated food security; numerous attacks on free media; the crisis our higher education institutions are facing; or the threat to the independence and integrity of Constitutional bodies, like the National Prosecuting Authority, and the Office of the Public Protector.
As the Official Opposition in Parliament, the DA has a Constitutional duty to hold the Executive to account and to provide oversight – which includes ongoing assessment of its performance or the lack thereof. This mandate is birthed in Section 92(2) of the Constitution which states that “Members of Cabinet are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and the performance of their functions.”
The Cabinet Report Card serves as an annual overview of the performance of the President, Deputy President, and the 35 Cabinet Ministers – both individually and collectively. This is done by assessing each Cabinet Member’s performance using qualitative broad criteria including:
- Policy Direction: Does the Minister have a clearly articulated vision for his/her department and has he/she been effective in implementing this vision;
- Attitude towards Accountability & Attendance in Parliament: What is the Minister’s conduct in office, particularly regarding his/her approach to accountability and his/ her attitude to Parliament;
- Finance and Administration:Does the Minister keep a tight hand on the purse strings of his/her department and how has the Department or office performed generally under his/her watch;
On the basis of this assessment, the President, Deputy President, and each Cabinet Minister is scored on a scale for “A” to “F”. An “A” is the highest score a Member of the Executive can achieve, with an “F” being the lowest.
This year the scores are as follows:
D / D-
E / E-
F / F-
President: Jacob Zuma (F-)
The year started on the back foot following four days of sheer madness now infamously known as “9/12”, when President Zuma summarily fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, replacing him with unknown backbencher and Gupta affiliate, Des Van Rooyen, in a blatant attempt to capture the country’s Treasury. While the move backfired for Zuma and his nefarious plan, it nonetheless caused an economic shock that cost our economy billions of rands.
A few months later, the President was dealt the ultimate vote of no confidence by a full bench of the Constitutional Court – the highest court in the land. Chief Justice Mogoeng found that President Zuma had violated the Constitution and broken his Oath of Office in his dealings relating to the non-security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead. The court found that he wrongly accrued such assets and ordered him to “pay back the money” – the amount to be determined by Treasury.
An impeachment process was subsequently brought against the President for violating the Constitution and his Oath of Office. Zuma survived this, solely because the ANC Parliamentary Caucus is also captured in his web of patronage.
In another failed attempt to capture the Treasury, Zuma then plunged the NPA into crisis, again, ensuring the NDPP brought charges against Finance Minister Gordhan, only to drop them when it became clear there was no case at all.
And just last month, the Public Protector’s State of Capture report was released following an investigation requested by the DA in March. The report confirmed what we already knew: the South African state is in the hands of a criminal syndicate who use it as their personal ATM. President Zuma and the Guptas head up a public-private partnership that has been stealing billions of rands from the national purse - money that could otherwise be spent on tackling poverty and unemployment.
The damning and incriminating findings in the report acted as the last straw for millions of South Africans who have had enough of Zuma’s shenanigans. Since then, the President has faced a motion of no confidence in Parliament, and a “people’s” motion of no confidence, and numerous mass civil society protests and marches, as political parties, religious leaders, broader civil society, and a string of ANC veterans and members of his own party and cabinet have called for the President to step down.
While the President has jumped from one scandal to the next, barely surviving, the country is burning.
Our universities are in perpetual crisis, as looting and destruction continues. Campus shutdowns resulted in many losing an entire year of studies, having harsh knock-on effects for the economy. Student demands for free education have been met with no ideas or real action by government, leading to more frustration.
Our economy is on very shaky ground, with a ratings downgrade to junk status a very real possibility. In a year in which President Zuma could not recite in Parliament his own 9 point plan to reduce unemployment, over 9 million South Africans remained jobless – with the unemployment rate hitting a 13 year high.
And to top it all off, his government announced its intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move that betrays our historical commitment to a human-rights based foreign policy, and tells the rest of the world that we do not believe in holding those who commit the most horrendous of acts, such as genocide and war crimes, to account.
President Zuma has utterly failed South Africa on all counts, violating the Constitution and his Oath of Office, and inflicting incalculable damage to our economy and our international reputation. In any other democracy, his presidency would not have survived 2016.
President Zuma thus scores an F-, the lowest possible grade.
Deputy President: Cyril Ramaphosa (D)
- Deputy President Ramaphosa recently announced a national minimum wage, which will be detrimental for the economy, job creation and security. Proposed minimum wage will cost 715 000 jobs and slash 2.1% off the GDP, according to Treasury.
- On State-Owned Entities, the Deputy President has done nothing to turnaround SOEs
- In his capacity as the Leader of Government Business, he has failed to engage with Opposition Party Leaders and reign in the Executive
- He is an accessory to President Zuma’s growing corruption scandals, and the disarray in key areas of the State.
Minister of State Security: David Mahlobo (F)
- The Minister has been linked to organised crime through a man who is linked to illicit trafficking and poaching of rhinos.
- The Minister also lied to Parliament by saying that he has never met with Mcebo Dlamini, only a few days after he was recorded saying that Mcebo Dlamini had been to his house several times.
- The Minister only attended committee on one occasion
- The White Paper on Intelligence remains outstanding, despite the Minister’s assurances that it would be prioritised.
Minister of Water and Sanitation: Nomvula Mokonyane (F)
- The Minister is to be blamed for the current water crisis which was clearly forewarned
- The Minister does not have a plan to finance the country’s water infrastructure over the next 4 years to prevent a full scale collapse
- Her Department is unable to spend allocated budgets, to expand, maintain and manage water infrastructure.
- The Minister has also been involved in several scandals, including corruption in the Lesotho Highlands water project; and the merger of water boards in KZN.
Minister of Social Development: Bathabile Dlamini (F)
- The Minister has consistently shown her disregard for the marginalised people she is meant to serve and is more preoccupied in demonstrating her undying and blind support for the President
- The Minister is content to lead the Department from the comfort of her ANC Women's League and is using the Department's programmes to garner and maintain support for the Women's League.
- The Minister spent excessively high amounts on international and local travel that she could not convincingly account for. A case in point is a travel bill of over R500 000 on a trip to the USA to attend a conference.
- Locally, she is known to have stayed at the five-star Oyster Box Hotel at a daily rate of R11 000 per night for over 30 days.
Minister of Public Enterprises: Lynne Brown (F)
- The Minister has lost all credibility.
- She has been implicated in state capture and is seen as a puppet for the enrichment of President Zuma and the Gupta family.
- At no stage has she shown leadership in dealing with one crisis after another in the SOE's.
- She has displayed a lack of commitment to bettering South Africa and shown to only be interested in pushing the agenda of President Zuma.
Minister of Police: Nathi Nhleko (F)
- Minister Nhleko personifies everything that is wrong in the Police portfolio: incompetent leadership, skewed priorities and lack of accountability.
- Under Minister Nhleko, the South African police force remains under-staffed, under-equipped, under-trained and under-funded.
- The Minister has demonstrated that he does not have the necessary political will to overcome these gross deficiencies.
- His performance is, at best, lacklustre and, at worst, disastrous for the fight against crime.
Minister of Mineral Resources: Mosebenzi Zwane (F-)
- Minister Zwane has shown himself to be a captured pawn of the Gupta family.
- Zwane is entirely unfit to hold the high office he occupies.
- He has gone out of his way (all the way to Switzerland!) to assist the Gupta family to secure lucrative state contracts, and even attempted to interdict the State of Capture report which implicates him in a web of corrupt activities.
- It would be better for the industry and all in it that he resign or be fired.
Minister of Labour: Mildred Oliphant (F)
- Minister Oliphant has presided over the Department of Labour through the most horrific job-shedding that South Africa has ever seen.
- South Africa has just breached the 9 million unemployment mark – 9 million capable people who cannot find a job.
- Over and above the Minister has done nothing to ensure that government creates a positive environment to encourage businesses to create work
- Her poor administration of her Department, her failure to account to parliament, her unethical behaviour and her failure to develop a policy direction of any kind should see her removed.
Minister of Higher Education and Training: Blade Nzimande (E)
- The student crisis is the result of years of funding neglect by the government.
- The Minister and his department are floundering.
- These funding crisis has rendered the whole Higher Education system unstable and have put our Universities in particular at risk.
- Unfortunately, his repeated reliance on stop-gap measures has done little to address the current student funding crisis.
- Minister of International Relations & Cooperation: Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (F)
- The department is leaderless and lacks policy coherence and direction
- Our foreign policy flip-flops and has essentially cost the country its international credibility.
- The Minister’s tirades on international media is proof that she has forgotten what she has learnt during her time as High Commissioner
- The Minister’s refusal to attend committee meetings indicates that she does not believe she is accountable to Parliament
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (E)
- More focused on ensuring luxury travels for the President by procuring a new intercontinental VIP Jet
- She irrationally commits to providing ever-greater luxury for the President and his friends
- The Minister has personally been embroiled in the scandal of providing passage to a Burundian woman in a military aircraft in an apparently illegal manner
- Too much money is still spent on non-essential and personal comfort expenses
Minister of Communications: Faith Muthambi (F)
- Minister Muthambi’s tenure at the Communications Department has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster
- Minister Muthambi’s bungling of the Digital Migration programme will mean that the 5 million identified indigent households cannot benefit from the promised set-top boxes.
- The Minister’s biggest policy failure this year, again, has been the SABC
- Failed to ensure that Hlaudi Motsoeneng was suspended and that an independent disciplinary inquiry into Motsoeneng’s fitness to hold office was held
Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs: Des Van Rooyen (F-)
- One of two ministers to attempt to interdict the release of the Public Protector’s “State of Capture” report
- Involvement with the Guptas has inevitably spilled over into his role as a Minister
- Vocal defender of the Gupta family and President Zuma
- In short, Minister van Rooyen has been completely ineffectual
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Senzeni Zokwana (F)
- He has also managed to get himself entrapped in a number of costly fisheries court cases
- In the year when the country experienced its worst drought in history, the Department had no plan or policy in place to adequately deal with this ongoing crisis
- He has had a dismal year and he has not acquitted himself well in this regard at all
- Minister Zokwana’s legacy that he did not act decisively in a time that the sector needed him most
It should be noted that it has not been all “doom and gloom” inside Cabinet, with few Ministers deserving credit for their good performance in comparison to their peers. In particular, for the third year in a row, the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, scored a B – the highest score given to a Cabinet Minister. Her Department has a clear direction and strategy, it consistently hit its targets, and is well-managed. She is also one of the only Cabinet members who regularly attends Parliamentary sittings.
Another Minister who scored a B rating is Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. Despite having both hands tied behind his back and thus being unable to effect structural reform to boost economic growth and create jobs, Minister Gordhan has committed to a “prudent, sustainable fiscal policy trajectory” aimed at reducing expenditure, raising revenue, managing fiscal risks at state-owned enterprises in order to close the budget deficit, achieve a primary surplus and stabilise debt. He must also be commended for staving off what would have been an economically devastating sovereign ratings downgrade from Standard & Poor’s (S&P). The Minister did this while having a politically motivated criminal investigation levelled against him by NDPP, Adv Shaun Abrahams. Lastly, under his watch, the National Treasury is generally well-run, having received an unqualified audit opinion with findings 2016/17.
Four Ministers were given a C rating. These include, Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom, Economic Development Minister, Ebrahim Patel, Public Service and Adminstration Minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, and Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa.
President Zuma and his cohort of praise singers do not have what it takes to move South Africa forward, and it is for this, and a long list of other reasons why the ANC continue to lose legitimacy and support. The ANC of Zuma continues to undermine the Rule of Law, the Constitution and the people of South Africa, with only the DA showing what a service delivery and people-orientated government looks and feels like.
While this administration has another two years which will be tough on the people of South Africa, while the political cabal of the ANC and Zuma line their pockets, the DA will work around the clock to ensure that they held accountable and that the people of South Africa are always put ahead of the narrow political agenda of the ANC, which will be removed from the Union Buildings come 2019.
Issued by Mmusi Maimane, Leader of the DA, 8 December 2016