April 29, 2004

SOUTH AFRICA: Mbeki nominates new Cabinet

After he was sworn into office in Pretoria on April 27, President Thabo Mbeki has announced the members of the new government which in essence is an almost exclusive ANC cabinet with a largely symbolic representation of the New National Party (NNP), the elections‘ big looser (for the list of names). Mbeki has thereby cut the Inkatha Freedom Party‘s representation in his cabinet, discarding Buthelezi as home affairs minister after 10 years and Ben Skosana as correctional services minister. The other IFP minister, Ben Ngubane who headed arts, culture, science and technology was also sidelined and is now ambassador to Japan.

In the meantime Buthelezi has emerged, however, as a possible contender to replace Naledi Pandor, the new education minister, as head of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Buthelezi is believed to be up against Joyce Lesawana Kgoali, chairwoman of committees in the House of Parliament, for the coveted post. Sources close to the negotiations between the African National Congress (ANC) and the IFP said that a number of options were explored that would wrestle Buthelezi out of its partnership with the Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal. ANC spokesman Smuts Ngonyama condemned the speculation on Buthelezi's future, saying it was likely to "raise expectations, people's hopes and even confuse the nation". Ngonyama said naming Buthelezi as a possible contender was "unprofessional and a wrong approach" by those wanting to influence the process. He said Mbeki would deploy a suitable person for the position.

Meanwhile, the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has greeted President Thabo Mbeki's appointment of more women to serve in his Cabinet for the next five years. Altogether 22 women have been appointed, 12 as Ministers and ten as Deputy Ministers, taking the total cabinet representation of women to 43 percent. The President retained nine women cabinet ministers and promoted three who were deputies.

Key cabinet ministers now include A. T. Didiza (Agriculture and Land Affairs), M. G. P. Lekota (Defence), T. A. Manuel (Finance), N. C. Dlamini-Zuma (Foreign Affairs), N. Mapisa-Nqakula (Home Affairs), L. N. Sisulu (Housing), P. Mlambo-Nqcuka (Minerals and Energy), M. B. M. Mpahlwa (Trade and Industry) and Ch. Nqakula (Safety and Security). The only non-ANC minister is M. van Schalkwyk (Environmental Affairs & Tourism). (Business Day, Johannesburg)

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