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The economy is in safe hands as the GNU braces for delivery

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Chief Justice Raymond Zondo administers the oath to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana at the swearing-in ceremony of ministers from his Government of National Unity Cabinet. It is encouraging that Ramaphosa has appointed well-qualified people to run the government departments, like the finance ministry where all appointees from all political parties hold several degrees in this field, the writer says. – Picture: GCIS

By Bonke Dumisa

Addressing an ANC gathering in Angola in 1977, the highly respected and longest-serving president of the ANC, Oliver Reginald Tambo, popularly known as “OR Tambo”, made a powerful statement: “It is easier to wage a liberation Struggle than to keep political power once in power after the liberation of the country.

“People will be expecting a lot of services from you. You will have to satisfy the various demands of the masses of our people. In the process, be prepared to learn from other people’s revolutions. Learn from the enemy also.

“The enemy is not necessarily doing everything wrongly. You may take his right tactics and use them to your advantage. At the same time, avoid repeating the enemy’s mistakes.”

When the ANC lost its absolute parliamentary majority of more than 51 percent this year after 30 years of continuous absolute majority since our first democratic elections in 1994, the ANC was forced to heed the words of Tambo, hence the ANC’s unprecedented serious political engagement with its arch-rival, the DA, nationally and provincially, and the IFP, mostly for KwaZulu-Natal.

The main reason why the arch-rivals of the ANC had to work closely with the ANC was definitely not to save the ANC from losing political power, which the arch-rivals, the DA and the IFP, had worked hard to achieve.

The real reason the former arch-rivals had to quickly collaborate was to prevent the country from falling into the hands of the people with bad economic views.

For example, some of the political parties who were expecting to replace the ANC as the ruling political party were people who said they wanted to remove the South African Constitution, which is revered globally.

They also wanted to interfere with the monetary mandate of the globally respected South African Reserve Bank. The other political parties are always spreading fear among South Africans, branding the economy as being controlled by “white monopoly capital”, a term paradoxically created by a white British citizen to justify state capture.

It is against this background that we are focusing on how President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed people to the economic cluster, especially the Finance Department and the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition. I am satisfied with the people who were appointed to lead the critical economic cluster portfolios.

Many people who were publicly opposed to the involvement of the DA in the government were worried that the DA would use its Cabinet positions to sabotage the essential redress of past racial imbalances, given its ideological opposition to broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE), some merit-based “cadre deployment”, well-organised land reform and other land redistribution measures. This was indeed a reasonable worry.

It is thus encouraging that Ramaphosa has appointed well-qualified people to the departments, and not just “oculakakhulu begxova itoyitoyi”, that is, he did not appoint ill-qualified comrades who rose up through the political ranks solely based on how loud they chant political songs and toyi-toyi.

He reappointed former finance minister Enoch Godongwana and former deputy finance minister David Masondo to their positions. Godongwana has an MSc degree in financial economics from the University of London and a strong trade union background. Masondo has a PhD from New York University, with a strong development economics background.

The second deputy minister of finance, from the DA, is Wits-educated Ashor Sarupen who has four degrees, including a BSc (Honours), and an MBA from Wits, and an MPhil from the University of Pretoria’s Gibs.

These are people who will not unnecessarily interfere with the good monetary policy work being done by the globally respected South African Reserve Bank.

The Department of Trade and Industry and Competition is being led by Parks Tau, who holds a Master’s degree in public policy and management from the University of London. He was the mayor of Johannesburg, for the full five-year term between 2011 and 2016. As the former mayor of South Africa’s economic hub, Johannesburg, he understands the trade and industry challenges.

As a Soweto-born politician, he understands the need for redress measures to be implemented to reverse the racial imbalances of the apartheid past. By sheer coincidence, Tau’s two deputy ministers – Zuko Godlimpi and the DA’s Andrew Whitfield – come from the Eastern Cape.

Godlimpi is young, about 32 years, and is a former student representative council member at the University of Pretoria where he had some interest in economics. Whitfield holds a BA (Honours) degree in politics. It is expected that the suitably qualified individuals will all work closely to ensure that the Department of Trade and Industry plays its pivotal role improving the economic growth of South Africa.

We also hope that the Department of Electricity and Energy’s Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, who has a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a PhD in public affairs, will continue to ensure Eskom’s load-shedding problems will soon become a thing of the past.

The lack of proper planning by the ANC government in the first few years of our post-apartheid era is responsible for the load-shedding mess.

We hope that our proud engineering graduate of the erstwhile University of Durban-Westville will use his great dancing skills to permanently resolve our electricity and energy challenges.

* Prof Bonke Dumisa is an independent economic analyst

** The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of The African