March 7 2023
On Monday night, god shuffled his feet à la the Crash Test Dummies album and Cyril Ramaphosa shuffled his cabinet.
South Africans had been eager to see ministerial changes for years as service delivery worsened over the years. A number of ministers have been involved in all sorts of gaffes including Nathi Mthethwa, now our former Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Bheki Cele, the current Minister of Police and Lindiwe Sisulu, the former Minister of Tourism.
Both Mthethwa and Sisulu lost their jobs on Monday night as Ramaphosa made quite a few changes to the cabinet and the end result is fairly interesting. We have a larger cabinet with more ministries including the new Ministry of Electricity. Our taxes will just end up paying more politicians’ salaries. But what does it all mean for real estate? It isn’t too clear.
Mthethwa was replaced by Zizi Kodwa, former deputy minister in the Presidency for State Security, and Sisulu was replaced by Patricia de Lille, the former Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure. These might be decent moves on our President’s part but remember they break continuity in our ministries which may lead to slower service delivery. The new ministers have to meet staff and people in various departments. Some projects may be stalled or cancelled and some new policies may be proposed.
Before we go further, it’s worse laughing about our former ministers and their gaffes.
Mthethwa is famous for wanting to erect a 100m flag monument at a cost of R22m which he said in 2022, would foster social cohesion in our country. Never mind how he was booed when he went to the victory parade for our victorious Banyana Banyana women’s football team which has just won the Women’s African Cup of Nations title and tried to get praise for his department. His department had barely spent a cent on Banyana Banyana leading up to the tournament or helped female footballers get to various Olympic Games.
Sisulu is known for doing all kinds of embarrassing things. She wrote an opinion piece where she criticised the constitution and blamed it and the judiciary for the poverty among black people in SA. She was even accused of plagiarism for this piece as a large section of it was almost identical to a speech given by former UK attorney general, Dominic Grieve.
But Cele who has been in charge of the police ministry since 2018, kept his job, even though he seems to be a walking comedy act. Crime statistics have worsened during his reign and while he is quick to pitch up at horrific high profile crime scenes, his crime combatting policies leave much to be desired. Let’s not forget his insult slinging fight with Ian Cameron, the director of community safety at non-profit organisation (NPO), Action Society. It’s embarrassing for a senior minister of a country to insult and have a spat with a man from small NPO who is right to be unhappy about the shocking levels of crime in SA.
So a more effective cabinet could instill some confidence in our economy. A big question is whether or not the new minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala will work well with property landlords and developers. De Lille had set up audits into her department’s staff and assets. But now she is gone.
Maybe the new minister can place pressure on municipalities to stop hiking property rates and taxes at excessive levels. Public Works acts separately but owns hundreds of buildings and has to pay rates and taxes too. The South African Property Owners Association’s CEO, Neil Gopal is meanwhile rallying property owners to speak out against unreasonable rate hikes while SA businesses slog through a weak economy where municipal service delivery is often poor.
I’m writing this piece during four hours of loadshedding, a stark reminder of how poor public service delivery has been in SA.
Alistair Anderson is the editor of Property Flash. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .