Who are our new ministers?

[Image] (Back, l to r) Yunus Carrim, Jacob Zuma, Connie September, Kgalema Motlanthe, Lechesa Tsenoli. (Front, l to r) John Jeffery, Pamela Tshwete and Michael Masutha.

[Image] President Zuma and Deputy President Motlanthe congratulate Minister Tsenoli on his new appointment.

[Image] Constitutional Court judge Johan Froneman watches as Yunus Carrim signs the oath of office.

[Image] Zuma and Motlanthe congratulate Connie September, the new minister of human settlements.

[Image] Deputy science and technology minister Michael Masutha reads the oath of office in Braille.
(Images: GCIS)

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MediaClubSouthAfrica.com reporter

President Jacob Zuma announced changes to his cabinet this week, replacing or redeploying nine ministers and deputy ministers. The new ministers were sworn in on 10 July.

“Twenty years of democracy have changed the face of our country,” said Zuma, making the announcement. “To take that change forward, I have decided to make some changes to the national executive.”

This is the fourth reshuffle in as many years, and unlike the previous occasions, Zuma has declined to give reasons for the move – analysts say in doing so, he has missed an opportunity to take the nation into his confidence.

However, they have lauded the appointment of the three new ministers, as all are individuals who have exemplary records of service and have shown strong commitment to the welfare of the country. Comments have also shown confidence in their ability to carry out their duties in a more efficient way than their respective predecessors.

The new appointees are as follows:

Of the nine appointments, four are sideways moves and five are promotions. Analysts and opposition parties have noted that none of them pose any political threat to the president, and that other ministers who have been under-performing retained their positions, meaning that Zuma did not fully address all the problems that exist at the moment.

“Focus must remain on consolidating the effectiveness of governance and meeting the needs of our people, the majority of whom are working class and poor,” the South African Communist Party said in a statement, congratulating its members Carrim and Tsenoli – who both sit on the central committee – on their achievement.

Meanwhile, the board of the South African National Roads Agency has wished former transport minister Ben Martins well in his new position as energy minister, and welcomed his predecessor Dipuo Peters as the new minister of transport. As these two ministers have performed relatively well, the reason for their redeployment is unclear.

The Democratic Alliance has voiced its approval of Tsenoli’s appointment, urging the new minister to focus on issuing regulations that will prescribe minimum qualifications and skills for municipal managers.

Our new cabinet ministers

But who are these new – or not-so-new, in some cases – leaders who have been tasked with taking our country forward?

Lechesa Tsenoli: Solomon Lechesa Tsenoli is the former deputy minister for rural development and land reform. He has years of experience in dealing with local government matters, and replaces Richard Baloyi.

He has a certificate in adult education from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a certificate in development planning for community leaders from the University of the Witwatersrand, and a certificate in public policy management from the University of Western Cape.

Between 2004 and 2011 he served as the chairperson of Parliament’s portfolio committee on co-operative governance and traditional affairs.

He has been a member of numerous bodies and organisations, including the National Housing Finance Corporation, the Institute for Local Government Management, and the Joint Rent Action Committee, and is a founder member and former president of the South African National Civic Organisation.

Tsenoli is also a student leadership, organisational and life coach.

He has been replaced by Pamela Tshwete, the widow of former safety and security minister Steve Tshwete, who passed away in 2002 of complications related to a recurring backache followed by pneumonia. Pamela Tshwete is a member of the national executive committee of the African National Congress Women’s League.

Connie September: Cornelia “Connie” September is the new minister of human settlements. She replaces Tokyo Sexwale, who was the first premier of Gauteng province.

September is a former deputy president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, and was the national treasurer of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union.

She is a member of the portfolio committee on trade and industry, and chairs the portfolio committee on water affairs and forestry. She holds a master’s degree in economics from Warwick University in the UK.

Yunus Carrim: Carrim holds a master’s degree in sociology from Warwick University and a diploma in journalism from the Darlington College of Technology, also in the UK. He was a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He replaces the controversial Dinah Pule, who was sworn in as minister of communications on 25 October 2011.

He chaired several portfolio committees, including justice and constitutional development (2007 – 2009), public enterprises (2004 – 2007) and provincial and local government (1998 – 2004).

Carrim, the former deputy minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, is described as a leading advocate of initiatives to eliminate corruption in the government.

In a radio interview the day after being sworn in, Carrim said that he was committed to working with his deputy minister in making the department more unified and “far more developmental in service delivery and orientation”.

He also acknowledged the need to stabilise the volatile board of the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and improve its performance.

He said that he doesn’t feel at a disadvantage for not having an ICT qualification, adding that the role of the minister is to bring together the technical people who do have the necessary skills, and to provide strategic and political guidance.

He spoke of a revival of the communications department, but with elections coming up in 2014, the department’s new focus and energy would only come into play after voters go to the polls.

Carrim is replaced by Andries Nel, the former deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, who is himself replaced by John Jeffery.

Nel has a degree in civil law from the University of Pretoria. He has also been active in Parliament, holding the position of house chairperson in the National Assembly from 2008 to 2009, and acting chief whip of the ANC in 2006 and 2007, while serving as deputy chief whip between 2002 and 2008.

Nel was the co-ordinator for the Lawyers for Human Rights’ capital punishment and penal reform project from 1990 to 1994.

New deputy ministers

Besides Nel and Tshwete, the other two new deputy ministers are John Jeffery – justice and constitutional development – and Michael Masutha – science and technology. The latter position has been vacant since October 2012.

Masutha, an advocate, is the former head of the Disability Rights Unit of Disabled People South Africa, and played an important role in developing the organisation’s constitution and charter. He holds law degrees from Wits University and the University of the North.

In Parliament he served on several portfolio committees, including justice and constitutional development, social development, and constitutional review. He was also the chairperson of the standing committee on the auditor-general.

Analysts have commented on Masutha’s lack of suitable qualifications for the science portfolio, but say his experience on portfolio committees and his legal background could contribute positively to issues of compliance, and boost the economic and financial management of the department.

John Jeffery is a member of the justice and constitutional development portfolio committee in the National Assembly.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Natal (now the University of KwaZulu-Natal), as well as an LLB and a postgraduate diploma in environmental law from the same institution.