Business Unity South Africa (Busa) expressed surprise and concern at the appointment of Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Ngoako Ramatlhodi to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministries respectively.
Busa raised its concerns in a statement written in response to President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of South Africa’s new Cabinet, following the fifth democratic elections on May 7.
Acting CEO Cas Coovadia emphasised the importance of the energy portfolio to the country’s economic performance and said it “should have been given to a person experienced in this field and able to bring critical stakeholders together to address the serious energy sustainability issues in South Africa”.
In an interview with Engineering News Online Coovadia also raised concern about the turbulent nature of Joemat-Pettersson’s tenure at Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which he hoped would not be carried over to the energy portfolio.
The organisation stressed that it would work with the new Minister, but urged her to bring a different style into the Ministry to that which she applied in her previous role.
Coovadia said it was vital for Joemat-Pettersson to speedily get to grips with the country’s priorities and to ensure greater coordination between the Department of Energy and the Department of Public Enterprises, which remained the shareholder Ministry for power utility Eskom.
Busa was less critical of Lynne Brown’s appointment as Minister of Public Enterprises, stating that she fared well in the Western Cape. “We will work with her to offer our advice and thinking on the role of public enterprises, particularly in getting the infrastructure programme on the road.”
However, it expressed concern with the appointment of Ramatlhodi to the Mineral Resources portfolio. “This is a portfolio fraught with serious issues and has experienced substantial contraction from a previous position of dominance in the global resources environment.
“Minister Ramatlhodi is an experienced person, but is not so in this area. We urge him to urgently work with all stakeholders to address issues inhibiting the growth of this critical sector,” said Coovadia.
Again, Coovadia stressed the importance of coordination and policy coherence in order to stimulate South Africa’s underperforming resources sector, which was critical to South Africa’s competitiveness and growth prospects.
He also lamented the lost opportunity to bring about greater coordination in economic policy and direction more generally.
“We remain convinced the separation of economic development from trade and investment is inappropriate. The retention of both Ministries will lead to further lack of coordination.”
Meanwhile, Coovadia said the creation of a small business development Ministry, to be headed by Lindiwe Zulu, could focus attention on the critical sector.
However, he pointed out the need to focus on eliminating the problems plaguing this area. “These include red tape, managerial and administrative knowledge of running a business and finance.
"We believe Minister Lindiwe Zulu is a competent person who will make a difference in this area," he added.