Cabinet Report Card: Work to be done, but Class of 2011 shows signs of improvement
Note to editors: The following statement and accompanying document on the DA's Cabinet Report Card for 2011 were presented today in Parliament by DA Parliamentary Leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, DA Federal Chairperson, Dr Wilmot James MP, and DA Chief Whip, Watty Watson MP. Please find the full report card here and an explanation of how the report card works here.
Any school class has star students, pupils who've shown improvement and poor performers.
Cabinet's Class of 2011 is no different.
Today the Democratic Alliance (DA) presents its appraisal of the performance of each Cabinet Minister over the past year.
We have graded ministers from an "A" to an "F" according to four broad criteria:
Direction: Does the Minister have a clearly articulated vision for his/her department? What is the nature of that vision and how well has he/she implemented that vision?
Attitude: What has his/her conduct been like while in office, particularly regarding their approach to accountability?
Attendance: How good has the Minister's attendance been at parliamentary sittings and portfolio committee meetings?
Organizational skills: How well has he/she overseen his/her department?
Overall, the combined Cabinet just missed an average score of a D, or 50%. There is clearly much work to be done.
This applies in particular to President Jacob Zuma, who received an F.
The President this year showed what may appear to have been a more decisive approach to leadership. However, these decisions must be seen through the prism of the ANC's fierce internal battles in the run-up to the 2012 Mangaung elective conference.
President Zuma's preoccupation with maintaining power has diverted his attention from issues that are crippling South Africa, particularly poverty and unemployment. If the President is to better his performance, he needs to put personal political interests aside, and South African people first.
Despite the President's low score, there are promising signs of improvement from the rest of Cabinet.
The Class of 2011's top performer this year was Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, who scored an A.
Minister Pandor's biggest achievement has been her dedicated lobbying for South Africa to host the prestigious Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope. Winning the bid will establish South Africa as a leader in innovation, science and technology, and will have numerous enterprise and job-creation spinoffs.
Despite a heavy travelling schedule to market the SKA, Minister Pandor has managed to be one of the most regular Cabinet attendees in the National Assembly. The Minister's ability to balance the demands of her department with her obligations to Parliament should be applauded.
Other high achievers included Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel, Mineral Resources Minister, Susan Shabangu, and Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan.
Promisingly, of the 29 Ministers that were in their same Cabinet positions this time last year, 15 either kept the same score or improved their grade this year.
Those Ministers that improved their score, with the change in their grade indicated in brackets, are:
- Minister of Correctional Services, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula (Grade F to Grade E)
- Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu (Grade F to Grade E)
- Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (Grade D to Grade C+)
- Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters (Grade C to Grade C+)
- Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu (Grade C to Grade B)
- Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga (Grade E to Grade D)
- Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande (Grade F to Grade D)
- Minister of Public Service and Administration, Richard Baloyi (Grade E to a Grade D)
- Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor (Grade B to Grade A)
- Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa (Grade E to Grade C)
- Minister in the Presidency, Trevor Manuel (Grade C to Grade B)
For the Class of 2011, the impressive strides made by its star performers must be weighed against their counterparts.
Two ministers, Sicelo Shiceka and Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, were expelled from Cabinet for serious misconduct.
Of those Ministers still in Cabinet, those who scored most poorly this year were:
- Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele
- Minister of Transport, S'bu Ndebele
- Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson
- Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti
- Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel
- Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane
- Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa
- Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana
All of these Ministers received an "F".
If Cabinet's Class of 2011 is to improve its performance next year, it needs to focus on the following areas:
Direction: Many Ministers need to either clarify their vision for their departments, or need to change direction altogether. Sport and Recreation Minister, Fikile Mbalula, for example, needs to pay much more attention to community sports development programmes to unlock sport's potential in building social cohesion.
Attitude: Cabinet members need to reassess their approach to accountability, particularly in relation to how they engage with Parliament. The reckless spending of state funds by those like Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, who spent just under R1.7 million on domestic and international flights in the past 16 months, remains one of Cabinet's most persistent problems. Such conduct indicates a deep disregard for the South African people, with whose money Ministers continue to splurge.
Attendance: The absence of Ministers from important plenary sessions and portfolio committee meetings needs to be addressed by Leader of Government Business Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Constant absentees include Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, and Correctional Services Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
Organizational skills: Ministers' departments can be only as effective as their administration. Regrettably, it is often those departments which provide services to those most in need that are in the greatest disarray. Despite the vast needs of those it is supposed to serve, the Department of Women, Children and People with disabilities this year failed to spend R5,6-million of its R7,1-million budget earmarked for the "Rights of People with Disabilities".
It's time for Cabinet to get back to the black board, and plot a clear way forward.
The signs of improvement are there. But the Class of 2011 has the resources, and potential, to make a much greater impact on the lives of the South African people than it has managed to do this year.
Statement issued by Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, DA Parliamentary Leader, December 12 2011
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