How the ANC cabinet did this year - FF Plus

Pieter Groenewald says President Zuma delegating insoluble problems to Ramaphosa in an effort to trip him up

FF Plus' annual evaluation of ANC Cabinet achievements/failures 2015

7 December 2015

Herewith the FF Plus’s annual end of year evaluation (report card) of the ANC Cabinet's achievements and failures in 2015.

1. Procedure

The procedure followed entails that voters and in particular potential voters from across the country were asked to point out ministers and issues which had been of importance to them during this year. Thereafter they provide an opinion and award a pass or fail mark for each minister.

2. Advantages

The advantage of such a poll is that it gives a clear indication of the political issues which are currently important to these voters and what their opinions about these issues are. This report does give an accurate summary of the average FF Plus voter's experience of the Cabinet and government policy.

Naturally, every minister (35) and a large number of issues were mentioned by the voters. Only 20 Cabinet Ministers which clearly passed or failed are discussed. For a pass a green dot was awarded, for failing a red dot and the remaining 15 ministers each received an amber dot. The amber dot awards are not discussed to keep the length of the report manageable.

Five Bad Apple awards were also given. These are Cabinet Members who failed and who have been singled out for damage they have caused to the country and our current economic situation.

3. Report

The critique and the Cabinet's report card follows below:

The political year 2015 was dominated by the Nkandla crisis. With his reaction to the Nkandla events, the president largely ignored the Public Protector's recommendations and the legislative power of Parliament and tried to circumvent it.

By ignoring the High Court order that al-Bashir was not permitted to leave the country, the president calculatingly ignored the courts as judicial authority and acted in contempt of a court order. These events, as well as the decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, exposed South Africa on the international stage as a violator of human rights like never before in its history.

By receiving Hamas (viewed by many nations as a terrorist organisation) on the highest level, as president, - but refusing the Dalai Lama entry - South Africa's international image was damaged even further.

During the student protests, which were accompanied by violence, President Zuma announced that there would be no increase in study fees next year. Where university managements struggled for years to obtain increased assistance from government, students immediately succeeded through protests and violence. That sent a clear message to the broader South African community that differences could in future be successfully settled through violence. The student violence also continued after this concession, while government is still struggling to secure these over-hastily promises to the amount of R3,5 billion.

President Zuma's shocking comments that he puts the ANC before South Africa, infringes upon our democracy, the Constitution and his oath of office as president. In many ways it confirmed investors and other people's fears that the ANC's enrichment and interests are set above that of South Africa as a country.

President Zuma's one sided history lessons destroy reconciliation and divides South Africans further. His negative reference to Afrikaners and Jan van Riebeeck at the beginning of 2015 set off an anti-white witch hunt which still continues. So also his factually incorrect comments that there was peace in Africa until 'others', meaning white people, arrived here.

By propagating such mistakes about history, he confirms that he needs a history lesson himself. These actions are in sharp contrast to former President Mandela's leadership and reconciliation approach where he, for example, with his comments and by putting on the Springbok jersey, demonstrated reconciliation.

Deputy President Ramaphosa diligently fulfils his duties as Leader of Government Business. He is often at his post – also with regards to the answering of questions.

As part of the succession struggle after President Zuma, the impression is that every insoluble problem is delegated to Ramaphosa by President Zuma, in the hope that he fails. He was therefore sent as facilitator to the extremely difficult problems in South Sudan, Burundi and Lesotho.

In June he had to deal with the rescue plan which was extended to the failed and unpopular e-toll.

Added to this, he received instructions to improve the effectiveness of the 700 state controlled utility companies and to work out a strategy to financially reverse those companies which have failed completely. This resulted in him being in the middle of the Eskom, SAA and Post Office crises.

Deputy President Ramaphosa led successful delegations to Japan and China to try to learn how these countries manage similar utility companies. Although he was not successful in all cases, he made meaningful contributions by, for example, to see to it that we have for several months not had load shedding and that a professional outsider such as Mark Barnes was appointed as new chief executive of the Post Office.

When he unwittingly became involved in a leased aircraft of the Guptas, he did not hesitate to criticise procedures and, unlike the president, make use of commercial airlines to travel abroad.

Minister Radebe plays an important role in Cabinet as minister in the presidency, but also as minister of planning and monitoring. It appears that under his leadership the National Development Plan is once again being paid attention to with the appointment of 25 new commission members in September 2015.

His department is also well managed and received a clean audit.

The minister's irrational protection of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, the SABC's chief executive who acquired his position illegally, is indicative of the Zuma administration's obsession with cadre deployment at the cost of the interests of the broader community. In the process, she essentially undermined the authority of the Constitution, the Broadcasting Act and the Public Protector.

Her lack of management capability and her focus on political fighting caused her department to miss the deadline for digital migration. It deprived many the opportunities to create new broadcasters with the accompanying missed job opportunities.

Many municipalities’ management is increasingly becoming worse, despite the minister’s “Back to Basics” program which was announced to fix municipalities.

Because outstanding service fees of municipalities amount to more than R 100 billion, Eskom is threatening to cut off the electricity supply to municipalities in arrears. The result is that faithful payers of service fees have to subsidise more non-payers, which is unreasonable and unfair.

Despite the Minister of Finance’s call for budget cuts as a result of a shortage of finances, the minister is going ahead in making billions of rand available for the President’s transport.

The SA Air Force is responsible for transporting the President and Deputy President, and the minister announced that new aircraft are needed for their transport. If the requirements which have been set are considered, such as flight range, it could cost taxpayers R4 billion. It is unnecessary and the SANDF already has a shortage of funds to such an extent that fighter jets cannot fly as there are insufficient funds for fuel.

Despite minister Patel's good work ethics, his department's policies and actions are insufficient to make the economy grow. On the one hand the problem is that his department, together with the department of Trade and Industry, implements black economic empowerment programs which do not contribute to economic growth, but merely redistributes existing assets.

On the other hand the department is merely a division of the department of Trade and Industry and the two should rather be amalgamated. The divided focus is hampering effective economic management.

Minister Nene had already in his budget earlier this year indicated that he understands the seriousness of the government’s current financial dilemma and is prepared to exercise discipline and cut state expenditure.

When Ms. Dudu Myeni, chairperson of South African Airways (SAA) wanted to amend an agreement with Airbus to SAA’s detriment, minister Nene, without hesitation put a stop to it.

That many of his ministerial colleagues still do not grasp the seriousness of the government’s financial dilemma is clear from the many luxurious trips and purchasing of presidential aircraft by ministers. Minister Nene will in future have to prove that he has sufficient authority in Cabinet to enforce his proposed financial discipline.

The minister’s own revolutionary belief failed him when he found himself on the wrong side of the revolution with the recent student up-risings about study fees. He paid the price for his party’s false promises of free higher education which created unfulfilled expectations with students.

The minister's consistent subtle pressure on mainly Afrikaans Universities bears witness to the fact that he lacks insight into the recognition of diversity, as it is proposed in the Constitution.

As it behoves a good communist, his Soviet thinking of centralisation and control of society over the finest details, has led to the creation of a Bill aimed at undermining the traditional autonomy of universities. Should the Bill be passed in its current form, it will be the end of the country's distinguished independent universities, whittled down to subservient traditional Africa universities which make no contribution to the world at all.

Minister Gigaba has in the past year caused untold damage to our tourism industry. Tourism had been one of the few industries in South Africa which showed growth, until this fiasco affected it. The insistence on unabridged birth certificates as a requirement had foreseeable negative consequences for the tourism industry.

Minister Gigaba’s stubbornness and refusal to change it, cost the country dearly. So also the fact that the department of Home Affairs is currently taking very long to implement the reversal of the requirements, as instructed by Cabinet. To regain lost tourism markets will not happen overnight.

Although the minister inherited many of the problems in her department, the crisis in her department is huge and she did not really succeed in making a noticeable impact.

The tremendous maladministration and embezzlement of public funds in numerous public enterprises such as PetroSA, SAA and Eskom, is indicative of the ANC's lack of capabilities to properly manage the country in the interest of everyone. It is also an indication that the ANC's policy of state interference and attempts of the state itself to participate in the economy has no substance at all.

Furthermore, the minister's inability to strengthen the pension funds and medical aid schemes of many Transnet pensioners and rather allow litigation about the matter to continue is a blatant abuse of human rights.

Statistics SA has found that South Africa’s public is increasingly feeling unsafe – especially at night. Violent crime (murder, robbery, robberies at residential premises etc.) have increased sharply.

According to SSA, 63% of households did not report robberies (as well as 56% burglaries and 54% robberies at residential premises) to the Police, as they feel that the Police will not and cannot do anything about it. From this it is clear that the public continues to lose confidence in the Police.

Added to this, the minister fired the head of the Hawks because the latter wanted to investigate Nkandla.

Political loyalty in the Police’s top management is disabling and crime can therefore not be combatted effectively.

Minister Nxesi's total contribution in the past year was to amateurishly attempt to protect President Zuma at all costs with regards to the Nkandla scandal.  A scandalous report was submitted to Parliament's Ad Hoc Committee in this effort of Nxesi.

After the Court of Appeal's recent judgment against him, minister Nxesi's reputation is shattered and he should resign. He furthermore also failed to ensure that his department regained any credibility. The department of public works is still seen as a source of large scale corruption.

Confusing land reform announcements and poor implementation of policy is currently creating serious uncertainty in especially the agricultural sector and in this way threatens food security.

The Expropriation Bill, which makes land reform possible through expropriation, creates great uncertainty and discourages investment in South Africa.

The minister’s false promises that agricultural organisations and interested parties could offer proposals about the 50/50 share principle in land reform, shows that he cannot be trusted.

From her speeches and the manner in which she responds to questions in Parliament, it appears that minister Pandor is completely in control of her department.

Her department is successfully involved in the SKA space project and the department is currently financing the Meerkat as the initial stage of the larger project. Foreigners involved in the project speak highly of the cooperation that they receive from her department with this project.

The minister's management of the crisis in the Post Office is totally inadequate. The Post Office was allowed to hover on the brink of collapse for too long while a large section of the economy was still dependent on that institution. A large problem was that until the appointment of Mark Barnes, the minister had continued with cadre deployment with which it was clear that the Post Office could not be turned around.

The numerous false promises made to part-time workers regarding permanent appointments and to permanent employees regarding compensation, seriously undermined the morale of the institution.

Minister Hanekom consistently demonstrated a good understanding for the sensitivities of the tourism industry and was visible at grass roots level.

He should be commended for the fact that he had the courage to oppose Minister Gigaba’s stupid decision with regards to birth certificates and visas. Following a long internal struggle and the intervention of Deputy President Ramaphosa, minister Hanekom succeeded in convincing the Cabinet to reverse the decisions of minister Gigaba.

The minister’s Soviet ideas of centralisation and control led to the submission and passing of a series of absurd pieces of legislation. Certain legislation have to date been stopped but others were forced through by the ANC.

Under this legislation counts the sharpened racist black economic empowerment objectives to artificially create 100 black industrialists. The true objective of empowerment should actually be to allow for broad-based development amongst black and white.

Furthermore, the Protection and Promotion of Investment Bill has already been forced through the national Assembly. The Bill offers less protection to international investors in South Africa than the existing bilateral trade agreements.

It also does not create any protection for South African investors in other countries. The American and European Chambers of Commerce in South Africa have now clearly indicated that billions of rand's worth of investments is being withheld due to this Bill.

The minister managed the process surrounding AGOA so poorly that it now appears that South Africa will shortly no longer be considered for trade benefits in terms of this American treaty. This is poor management of trade relations and the creation of absurd legislation is taking place at a time that the country can economically least afford it.

The minister will always be remembered for the poor management of the e-toll saga in Gauteng and the Western Cape. These systems must be scrapped. Despite a general tax revolt and the financial implosion of the Gauteng e-toll system, she continues to defend the system. With this, the minister allowed that a moral platform has been created for fast growing general tax revolt.

The minister’s illogical defence of the failed AARTO system, which is still in in its test phase in Pretoria and Johannesburg, is a waste of taxpayer's money. The AARTO system did not at all succeed in making the roads safer and merely creates an environment for many abuses by traffic authorities.

The minister also allowed the Road Accident Fund, owing to maladministration to decline to such an extent that the fund's management is now opportunistically trying to force through an irrational piece of legislation which would fundamentally prejudice the rights of claimants of the fund.

The minister also had oversight of PRASA's purchase of trains from Spain which cannot be used on South Africa's railway system, due to the incorrect height of the trains. PRASA has degenerated in a classic example of the circus mentality that currently dominates state controlled institutions.

Under the minister, the racist nature of labour legislation was intensified and there is no sign of the badly needed relaxing of labour regulation which in the current economic circumstances is absolutely essential.

Furthermore, the minister, in opposition to international legal practices, refused to scrap affirmative action in the public service, despite the fact that the Constitutional goal of the public service being broadly representative of society has already been surpassed.

Issued by Pieter Groenewald, FF Plus Spokesperson, 7 December 2015