South African business body calls for smaller cabinet following elections

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BUSINESS Unity South Africa (BUSA) on Sunday called for a smaller but effective cabinet to tackle a series of challenges confronting the country.

‘An aligned, focused, compact and capable cabinet will enable speedier decision making and implementation to address the country’s economic challenges,’ BUSA said.

The country’s largest business body made the appeal following Wednesday’s national and provincial elections, in which the African National Congress (ANC) emerged as the winner, capturing more than 57 percent of the votes.

The elections also endorsed a full term for Cyril Ramaphosa as the next president. Ramaphosa took over Jacob Zuma in February last year when the latter resigned over corruption allegations.

Ramaphosa inherited from Zuma a bloated cabinet which is by far one of the biggest in the world, with 35 ministers and 37 deputy ministers, prompting repeated calls for Ramaphosa to downsize the cabinet.

‘As the sixth democratically elected administration prepares to tackle its five-year mandate, BUSA considers the economy to be the most pressing task, requiring urgent action,’ BUSA said.

South Africa’s growth rate remains low, its unemployment high, its investment levels inadequate relative to peer countries and its public finances a source of concern, said BUSA.

It said cabinet ministers, directors-general and other key staff in the economic and justice clusters need to be appointed on the basis of competence, capability, experience and integrity.

These capabilities will be critical to overseeing an economic turnaround and ensuring justice is served in the quest to combat corruption, BUSA said.

Investors require key interventions, which include swift implementation of comprehensive reform of state-owned entities, with electricity utility Eskom at the top of the list, said BUSA.

It also called for immediate measures to address public finances, particularly the fiscal deficit and rising public debt, eliminate barriers to investment by ensuring policy certainty, and boost the low economic growth rate.

It is imperative that a structured engagement mechanism be set up to drive forward the key priorities for investment, growth, employment and social compacting, BUSA said.

The business sector stands ready to partner with the newly elected administration and will be seeking an early engagement with the administration to discuss these issues and how to form a partnership to achieve the collective objectives of inclusive growth, said BUSA.

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