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Van Rooyen will have hard time in charge of local govt

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Newly-appointed Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Minister David van Rooyen is going to have a hard time in charge of local government, especially with elections around the corner, analysts said on Monday.

It was announced on Sunday that Van Rooyen, who was appointed as finance minister on Wednesday, would replace Pravin Gordhan as head of Cogta. Gordhan would return to his former position of finance minister.

This shuffling followed the shock axing of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister.

Political analyst Mzukisi Qobo said Van Rooyen was lucky to still be in charge of a portfolio.

“No one would have considered him for either position in the first place. He is relatively unknown at a serious political level. He is someone who will clearly be as clueless in Cogta as he would have been in the National Treasury,” he said.

Analyst Somadoda Fikeni said the very fact that Van Rooyen was seen as a last-minute second choice for the position of Cogta minister weakened his position even before he had started the job.

“Also, the fact that he was in the sector as a mayor means his record will be under scrutiny. It already creates a lot of legitimacy challenges.”

Van Rooyen was mayor of the Merafong municipality, which includes Fochville and Carletonville. In 2005, residents staged violent protests against his decision to have the municipality incorporated into the North West from Gauteng. The Municipal Demarcation Board approved the decision, but Zuma later reversed it.

Fikeni said local government was an important strategic area, especially with the upcoming local government elections.

“The ANC will be more vulnerable [with Van Rooyen’s appointment]. They could be seen as not taking local government seriously,” he said.

“This last minute decision will forever haunt Van Rooyen. He will have to work miracles to change this perception.”

He said the perception of the minister’s position being “juniorised” with Van Rooyen’s appointment could create problems. Deputy Cogta Minister Andries Nel had a strong background in the sector, but was apparently overlooked for the position.

“Him being bypassed raises issues.” News24

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