In 2015 President Zuma has presided over the worst performing Cabinet in 21 years. With South Africa facing crises on many fronts including inadequate higher education funding, rising unemployment, slow economic growth and the worst drought since 1992, the President has done little more than laugh in the face of struggling South Africans.
The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) comprehensive assessment of President Zuma and his Cabinet reflects an unaccountable government that prioritises the ANC above ordinary South Africans.
This year President Zuma has excelled at one thing alone – putting his personal needs above those of the people he was elected to serve. President Zuma has failed South Africa on all accounts and has done immeasurable damage to our economy and our image abroad.
President Zuma’s most recent performance in the National Assembly exposed the bankruptcy of his leadership. He had no answers to the country’s many problems and simply laughed at attempts to hold him to account and demand real answers for his failures.
The President has displayed a complete lack of empathy for the challenges being faced by citizens. This is encapsulated by his failure to denounce the procurement of a new luxury jet for his personal use, at a cost of up to R4 billion, while students protest against the exorbitant cost of higher education.
His failure to hold members of the Executive to account for the events at Marikana, and the findings of the Public Protector with regard to PRASA, echo his personal crusade to undermine our democratic institutions. His disdain for our courts, as well as the Public Protector, is indicative of a President that believes himself to be above the law.
In 2015 President Zuma has pushed his constitutional oath to breaking point in failing to obey the Constitution and protect and promote the rights of all South Africans.
- sanctioned the breaking of both international and domestic law when he allowed wanted war criminal Omar al-Bashir to escape South Africa in June;
- blatantly ignored the remedial findings of the Public Protector in her report into the upgrades to his private residence at Nkandla despite the Supreme Court of Appeal finding that this is unlawful;
- sat on the report by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into Marikana, denying the victims justice and compensation;
- remained silent in the National Assembly while students protested outside its doors against financial exclusion at institutions of higher learning; and
- responded with evasive and dismissive replies in Parliament while literally laughing at the notion of parliamentary oversight.
The dismal performance of his Cabinet offers little relief. When analysed in comparison to last year, this year was the worst performance for the ANC Cabinet by far – with 13 Ministers being scored lower than in 2014. The full cabinet report card can be accessed here. The scores are as follows:
| D / D-
| E / E-
| F / F-
These are South Africa’s worst performing Ministers:
- The Minister of Water and Sanitation: Nomvula Mokonyane (F-)
Minister Mokonyane has lacked the political will to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the water sector in South Africa. Despite numerous promises, she has still not released the Blue and Green Drop reports into the quality of our drinking water and the state of sanitation in South Africa. Her ineptitude is epitomised in her denial of the current water crisis.
- The Minister of Social Development: Bathabile Dlamini (F-)
Despite continuing social inequality in South Africa, only 67% of the Departments targets were met – despite the fact that 98% of the budget was spent. This included failures to meet key targets for the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Development Agency.
- The Minister of Communications: Faith Muthambi (F-)
Minister Muthambi’s leadership of the Department of Communications has been an unmitigated disaster. She has sought to exert control over the SABC, with the Board reduced to a rubber stamp. South Africa missed the deadline for Digital Migration; Hlaudi Motsoeneng was appointed as permanent COO in defiance of the Public Protector, and without following due process; remedial action ordered by the Public Protector and Supreme Court of Appeals to suspend Motsoeneng and institute disciplinary action has not been yet implemented.
- Minister of Higher Education and Training: Blade Nzimande (F)
Despite large scale student protests around the country, Nzimande has failed to properly address the crisis or even acknowledge that one exists. Hot on the heels of the student protests, the Minister introduced a controversial new Bill to further eat away at University autonomy, showing his unconcern about the current crisis facing the sector.
- Minister of Labour: Mildred Oliphant (F)
The Minister has, according to the minutes of all Labour Committee meetings in Parliament, not attended a single meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Portfolio Committee since she was appointed Minister of Labour in 2010. She was absent from two of the country’s biggest strikes in recent history; both the platinum and the agricultural strike and has refused to table any improvements to legislation to reign in strike violence. She refuses to support DA proposals in this regard. Strike and inter-union violence have spiralled out of control in the past four years under her leadership.
- Minister of Woman in the Presidency: Susan Shabangu (F)
The Department failed to meet most targets, and there is no indication how this Department makes a difference in the lives of women. The Department spent 98 percent of its budget but achieved 36 percent of their targets overall. Minister Shabangu spent too much time travelling overseas and not enough time on the ground.
- Minister of Home Affairs: Malusi Gigaba (F)
Minister Gigaba introduced immigration regulations without considering their impact on the economy or assessing the Department’s ability to implement the new policy. His department could not handle the implementation of the unabridged birth certificate requirement. It was only after months of protest from industry experts that the Minister finally agreed to repeal sections of the regulations – but only after the damage had been done – particularly to the Tourism industry.
- The Minister of Energy: Tina Joemat-Pettersson (F)
The Minister has continued to defy the National Development Plan and opposition from all quarters to the billion rand nuclear deal – all the while keeping the entire issue cloaked in secrecy. With all her trips to Russia and China, the Minister spent R56 million in travel and substance allowances – making her one of the most travelled Ministers in the current administration.
It should be noted that a few Ministers did perform well this year and deserve credit. In particular, for the second year in a row, Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor scored a B. Her Department is well-managed, with clear direction and strategy, together with consistently met targets. She is also one of the only Cabinet members who regularly attends sitting of the National Assembly, where she actively engages on issues.
Six other Ministers were given a C rating. These include, Jeff Radebe, who to his credit appears to have a vision for a well-run Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation within the Presidency; Aaron Motsoaledi, who regularly engages in Parliament in a meaningful and accountable manner; and Derek Hanekom, who despite initial reluctance, eventually played a role in convincing Malusi Gigaba that the job killing sections of the visa regulations should be repealed.
The lacklustre performance of Cabinet echoes the example set by President Zuma that corruption and mismanagement go unpunished while ANC members benefit from state resources at the expense of the poor. With each year that passes with President Zuma at the helm, our democracy is weaker and our future less bright.
The time to replace the ANC with a DA-led government with a proven track record of good governance is long overdue.
By Mmusi Maimane