Nicolette Dirk, finance writer, Justmoney
The changes President Jacob Zuma has made to his cabinet, which was announced yesterday, have been described as more ‘political’ than practical.
Peter Attard-Montalto, an economist at Nomura in London, said he was not sure that the new cabinet is better placed to secure jobs growth, fix the country’s vulnerabilities or boost potential growth any more than the last one.
One of the biggest shockers was Pravin Gordhan’s apparent ‘demotion’ to the post of Minister of Cooperative Government. Montalto described the move as ‘Gordhan’s shocking demotion to a tiny ministry with little power’.
“We had expected him to either retire or stay. Maybe this is a way of transitioning him into retirement but never the less it seems his talents are wasted in this new role and we are very sad to see him leave the National Treasury,” added Attard-Montalto.
But Dawie Roodt, Efficient Group economist said the former minister of finance’s talents were not fully utilised in the Department of Finance because he did not get the type of support from government his predecessor, Trevor Manuel, did.
“His new role could be seen as a bit of a demotion because the Department of Finance is usually perceived as a senior position. But his new role will also be a challenging one because our local authorities departments need serious fixing,” said Roodt.
Roodt said new Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene(pictured), will have his work cut out for him in his new role.
“The Minister of Finance’s role is to be the ‘party pooper’ and raise alarms when money is not spent properly and to have a strong personality to disagree with the powers that be,” said Roodt.
Does Nene have what it takes?
Montalto described Nene as a sound technocrat with a good grasp of the brief and well respected within the National Treasury. He is also a believer in the current macroeconomic policy dispensation.
“However he is a party loyalist and the worry which we will be watching him on is how much he can stand up for National Treasury and its beliefs and pro-investor stance within Cabinet and the ANC more broadly,” said Montalto.
He added that Gordhan on the other hand was good at mastering this politicking and pointed out that Mcebisi Jonas the new deputy Finance Minister is somewhat of an unknown. “A previous Eastern Cape Provincial government minister of finance he seemed to do the job OK there...but little really is known of his more macro policy views.”
According to Roodt the Minister of Finance’s two main tasks is to decide on how much taxes South Africans must pay and how much of these taxes gets spent in the different government departments.
“The real challenge for him will be to stand up to his boss (President Jacob Zuma) when it comes to how this money is spent,” said Roodt.