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Ramaphosa’s new brooms

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced several changes to his Cabinet. Here are short biographies of some of the new and not-so-new faces in the national executive.

Nhlanhla Nene, Minister of Finance

Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene has made a dramatic return to his former position as head of National Treasury in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet.

Nene was first appointed finance minister at the beginning of President Jacob Zuma’s second term in May 2014, replacing a largely successful five years served by predecessor Pravin Gordhan.

Nene was infamously removed by Zuma in December 2015, just 19 months into the job, on the basis of a promise he would head up a new African regional centre of the Brics Development Bank.

His axing at the time – to make way for then little-known MP Des van Rooyen – caused a massive tumble in the rand, and came to be known as “Nenegate”.

Following the furore, Van Rooyen was replaced three days later by none other than Gordhan, returning to his old portfolio from his new post as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

Nene’s move to the new Brics bank never materialised, confirming in April 2016 he had not received an approach, and took a new job in the private sector.

His return, announced on Monday, should be met favourably by the markets, having been well received during his short, 19-month stint.

Nene has a BCom Honours degree in economics from the University of the Western Cape, as well as two diplomas in marketing and economic policy. In addition, he has certificates from Unisa and the University of London, also in economics.

Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

Zweli Mkhize is the former treasurer general of the ANC. He was one of the candidates for the party’s presidency at its conference in Johannesburg in December last year, campaigning for unity and end to factionalism. At the eleventh hour, he withdrew his nomination and declined being nominated for deputy president.

Before being elected to the ANC’s top six in Mangaung in 2012, Mkhize served as the premier of KwaZulu-Natal from 2009 until 2013. He was elected as the ANC’’s provincial chairperson in 2008.

According to his profile on the ANC’s website, he was previously appointed as MEC for Finance and Economic Development from 2004 to 2009. He was also the leader of government business during this time.

Mkhize was born in Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg on February 2, 1956. He graduated with a medical degree from the University of Natal (now University of KwaZulu-Natal) in 1982. In 1983, Mkhize did his internship at McCords Hospital in Durban before being employed at Edendale Hospital in his hometown, Pietermaritzburg. In 1986 he went into exile, continuing with his medical work, and returned to South Africa in 1991.

Last year, he was named in Redi Tlhabi’s book as having tried to manipulate Fezekile ‘Khwezi’ Kuzwayo into dropping rape charges against former president Jacob Zuma. He denied this.

Earlier this month, former Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) chief executive Lucky Montana alleged at Parliament’s enquiry into state capture at state-owned enterprises that Mkhize solicited 10% of a payment of R465m due to Swifambo Rail Leasing, which provided Prasa with controversial Afro 4 000 locomotives, as a payment to the ANC. Mkhize denied any wrongdoing.

Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises

Pravin Gordhan makes a stunning return to Cabinet after serving as finance minister during Jacob Zuma’s first term as president. At the beginning of Zuma’s second term in 2014, Gordhan was appointed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. He was in that position for only a year, until Zuma fired Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and replaced him with Des van Rooyen.

Following massive backlash, Zuma brought Gordhan back into the finance portfolio.

He was then axed, along with his deputy Mcebisi Jonas during Zuma’s infamous late night Cabinet reshuffle in March last year.

Gordhan served as the deputy commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) from 1998 to 1999 and was appointed as the commissioner of SARS in 1999. He was renowned for his turnaround of the service.

Gordhan studied pharmacy at the then University of Durban-Westville, and was sacked from his job at a hospital due to his jail time for political activities.

In the early eighties, he was part of the discussions leading to the launch of the United Democratic Front, and after a period of banning and some time in jail, went underground and became secretary of Operation Vula, the ANC’s underground network.

He was arrested again in 1990 and charged with terrorism and illegal possession of arms and explosives. The government alleged that he and others conspired to lead a “people’s army” to seize power by means of an armed insurrection.

Gordhan was sent as a joint Natal/Transvaal Indian Congress delegate to the first meeting of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), and sat on the first steering committee which organised Codesa 1. He eventually took control of the daily management committee.

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources

Gwede Mantashe was elected as the ANC’s national chairperson at the ANC’s Johannesburg conference last year, after serving two terms as the party’s powerful secretary general.

Mantashe was born in Cala in the Eastern Cape on June 21, 1955.

According to his profile on the ANC’s website, he joined the migratory labour force in the mining industry in 1975. In 1982, he moved to Matla Colliery where he co-founded and became the Witbank branch chairperson of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), a position he held until 1984. He was then elected NUM Regional Secretary in 1985. Mantashe became the NUM’s National Organiser from 1988 to 1993 and its Regional Coordinator between 1993 and 1994.

From 1994 to 1998, he was NUM’s assistant general secretary of the NUM. In 1998 he was elected as general secretary at NUM’s 1998 congress. He relinquished his position as the General Secretary of the NUM in May 2006 at the union’s 12th National Congress.

In 2006, after leaving the NUM, he was appointed as the Executive Manager: Strategic Initiatives at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) where he was the chairperson of the Technical Working Group of the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) for a period of two years.

Mantashe was chairperson of the SACP from 2007 until 2012.

In 2008 it was Mantashe who made the announcement that former president Thabo Mbeki has been recalled.

While he backed former president Jacob Zuma at the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference, by 2017 he was in Cyril Ramaphosa’s corner.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Minister in the Presidency (planning, evaluation and monitoring)

Veteran ANC politician Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma makes her fifth return to Cabinet after her appointment on Monday as minister in the presidency. Dlamini-Zuma famously lost the race for the ANC presidency in December last year to Ramaphosa by 179 votes.

She has now been handed the task of succeeding Jeff Radebe as Ramaphosa’s new right-hand woman in the Cabinet and a key advisor, in a move that can be seen as an attempt to unite the two ANC factions.

Dlamini-Zuma has a wealth of experience in Cabinet, having served in three different ministries over four terms since 1994.

She first served as minister of health under first democratic president Nelson Mandela during the government of national unity from 1994 to 1997, and continued in the post until Mandela’s term ended in 1999.

She then served two terms of ten years under former president Thabo Mbeki as minister of foreign affairs from 1999 to 2009.

Her next appointment was as minister of home affairs under former president Jacob Zuma from 2009 to October 2012, but left office early after being elected chairperson of the African Union Commission that month.

She left her post as AU commission chairperson in January last year after four years. She was sworn in as an MP in September, ahead of her failed campaign for the ANC presidency.

Dlamini-Zuma has multiple degrees from four alma maters, and was a medical doctor by profession.

Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, Minister of State Security

Letsatsi-Duba left South Africa in 1982 to join the ANC and Umkhonto we Sizwe in exile. She completed her high school in Zambia’s Luanshya Girls High. She completed a diploma in political science in Cuba and also obtained a diploma in mass communication from Harare Polytechnic College in Zimbabwe. She later obtained a higher certificate in governance and leadership at Wits’ School of Public Management.

After returning from exile, she worked as a media liaison at the ANC’s headquarters, then called Shell House.

According to the department of public service and administration’s website, she relocated to Limpopo in 1996 and joined the private sector. Between 2000 and 2002, Letsatsi-Duba served in the interim leadership core responsible for the restructuring the ANC Capricorn region. From 2003 to 2008 she was a board member of then Limpopo Development Agency.

In 2007, she was elected to serve on the ANC Limpopo provincial executive committee (PEC). She was elected provincial treasurer of the ANC in Limpopo at the provincial conference of 2008.

In 2009 she was elected to the Limpopo provincial legislature, serving as MEC for agriculture, and from 2012 as MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture, only to be redeployed to the health and social development portfolio the next year.

In 2014 she was elected to the National Assembly and served as chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. Last year, former president Jacob Zuma appointed her as deputy minister for the public service and administration department.

Blade Nzimande, Minister of Transport

The SACP’s general secretary Dr Blade Nzimande is one of the few comeback kids reappointed to Cabinet by President Cyril Ramaphosa. He now takes over the transport ministry after being axed by former president Jacob Zuma in 2017.

Nzimande previously served as minister of higher education, which was established when Zuma split it from basic education in 2009.

Nzimande, who has been at the helm of the SACP since 1998, cut his teeth in politics during his student days at the University of KwaZulu-Natal which included food boycotts and demonstrations.

He has played a central role in the removal of two presidents, having previously being one of Thabo Mbeki’s most vocal critics and more recently leading the organisation in calls for Zuma to be recalled by the ANC.

As minister of higher education, Nzimande faced severe criticism from students who demanded the immediate implementation of free higher education. He was also criticised for the purchase of a R1.1m 7-series BMW by the state, for which he later apologised.

Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism

Derek Hanekom was born on January 13, 1953. He completed his schooling at the prominent Jan Van Riebeeck High School in Cape Town.

In 1976 he was arrested after joining a peaceful protest at John Vorster Square, the apartheid era police headquarters. In 1980 he joined the ANC with his wife Patricia. They were arrested in 1983, and initially charged with high treason. After his release, they were exiled in Zimbabwe. They returned in 1990, and Hanekom worked for the ANC at its headquarters, dealing with policy formulation.

He has served on the ANC’s national executive committee since 1994.

He served in former president Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet as minister of agriculture and land affairs. From 1999 to 2004 he served as an MP for the ANC. In 2004 he was appointed as deputy minister of science and technology. He served in this position until former president Jacob Zuma promoted him to the minister of science and technology. After the 2014 election, Zuma appointed him as minister of tourism.

In 2016 he brought the first motion to remove Zuma to the ANC’s NEC. Zuma survived this motion.

He was one of the ministers axed in Zuma’s dramatic late-night Cabinet reshuffle in March 2017, which also saw the removal of Hanekom’s close ally Pravin Gordhan as finance minister.

They both remained as MPs. Hanekom became a vocal critic of corruption within the ANC ranks and was a staunch backer of President Cyril Ramaphosa to become the ANC’s president in December 2017.

[Source: News24]
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