JOHANNESBURG, 26 MAY 2019 – While the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern African (SEIFSA) welcomes the reduced Cabinet appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa this evening and pledges to work with the Government to grow the country’s economy, nevertheless the Federation remains concerned about the size of the Cabinet and the plethora of Deputy Ministers.

SEIFSA Chief Executive Officer Kaizer Nyatsumba said while it was commendable  that President Ramaphosa had honoured his undertaking to reduce the size of the Cabinet, he had not gone far enough, with the 28-member Cabinet still being among the largest in the democratic world. Mr Nyatsumba said a South Africa going through tough times would have been better off with a Cabinet of between 20 and 25 Ministers, considering the various internal interests that President Ramaphosa had to satisfy.

Mr Nyatsumba pointed out that far wealthier, First-World countries had Cabinets much smaller than our own.

“It is evident that President Ramaphosa came under immense pressure to satisfy so many disparate interests within the ANC-led tripartite alliance. That explains the continuing bloated nature of our Cabinet and the many Deputy Ministers. Regrettably, some of these appointments are more about managing internal tensions within the governing party, and less about what is in the country’s best interests,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

Mr Nyatsumba welcomed the  retention of Tito Mboweni as Finance Minister and the return to one, all-encompassing Ministry of Trade and Industry, which he hoped would look after the interests of all of business, regardless of size. He expressed the hope that new Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel would be much more accessible to business and strongly champion its cause within the Cabinet.

“Among our many problems as a country, our biggest by far is the poor performance of our economy. Inevitably, this leads to an ever-growing army of the unemployed and higher levels of poverty. By and large, that has been the consequence of the terrible quality of leadership to which South Africa has been subjected in the past decade, coupled with runaway corruption which came dangerously close to being the norm mostly in government and the public sector.

“Therefore, we welcome the generally good quality of leaders appointed by President Ramaphosa into his Cabinet. We believe that most of them are men and women of integrity who will put the country’s interests ahead of the narrow, selfish interests of either their political party or any other group.

“Like many others, we believe in President Ramaphosa and wish him and his Government well. We stand ready to partner with them to grow the economy.

“However, while we will pay attention to their words, we will watch their actions even more carefully and criticize them where we feel that they are letting the country down,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He called on the Government to redouble its efforts to tackle corruption head on and to ensure that all those who are alleged to have been involved in any form of corruption or malfeasance are prosecuted without fear or favour, with all tiers of government, the general public sector and State-owned companies being the starting point.

Mr Nyatsumba stressed the need for South Africa to be made an attractive foreign and domestic investment destination in order to grow the economy and to create much-needed jobs to reduce the high level of unemployment, which poses a serious risk to the country’s future.

“The Government must realize that South Africa is not owed any favours by anybody around the world. The country must compete, against many others, for foreign investment. The Government has the onerous responsibility of creating a conducive climate for investment. That includes ensuring that there is a merciless crackdown on all forms of crime, especially violent crime,” Mr Nyatsumba said.

He added that in SEIFSA – which actively champions transformation within the metals and engineering sector – President Ramaphosa and his Government will find a reliable partner, “provided they put the country’s interests first”.

SEIFSA is a National Federation representing 23 independent employer Associations in the metals and engineering industries, with a combined membership of 1600 companies employing around 200 000 employees. The Federation was formed in 1943 and its member companies range from giant steel-making corporations to micro-enterprises employing fewer than 50 people