South Africans and the international community have in the main greeted President Jacob Zuma's cabinet appointments as an appropriate response to public calls and concerns. President Jacob Zuma named his new cabinet at a media conference the day after his inauguration, announcing the creation of four new ministries, the division of two ministries and the renaming of three departments. The government said that the structure of the cabinet and national departments has been reorganised "to achieve better alignment between the structure, [the] electoral mandate as per [the] election Manifesto, and the developmental challenges that need to receive immediate attention from government."
Coming at a time when the world is experiencing a global economic crisis, President Zuma's announcement of the expansion of ministries and departments to deal with economic policy has been well received. The extensive changes in the economic arena have been welcomed by economists and the business community, as well trade unionists, who have found a few of their comrades in high offices.
The most anticipated of the appointments has been that at the Ministry of Finance. Trevor Manuel had held this post since 1996 and acquired a reputation both with the country's business community as well as his international counterparts as one of the most competent and knowledgeable of finance ministers. It was feared that a replacement would be to the country's detriment, as was the case in September last year when it was thought that Manuel had resigned following then president Thabo Mbeki's resignation and the rand weakened appreciably.
President Zuma's appointments and changes in the economic sector have, however, defused any apprehension and the newly named finance minister has found numerous welcome messages and high praises in anticipation of his tenure in the ministry.
New finance minister Pravin Gordhan is well known in South Africa for his excellent record in steering the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to success, surpassing the finance ministry's ambitious targets for revenue collection year after year. During his time as Commissioner of SARS from 1999, and as deputy commissioner for a brief period, Gordhan elevated the tax administration to levels of organisation, modernisation and simplification that were welcomed all around, even by hesitant taxpayers.
Appointments in the economic sector also include the newly created Department of...