The agricultural sector says it was taken aback by Cyril Ramaphosa’s axing of Sdumo Dlamini as one the deputy ministers of agriculture, land reform and rural development. Last night during his long-awaited cabinet reshuffle, the president announced that Dlamini was to be replaced by Zoleka Capa.
Acknowledging that Dlamini’s removal came as a surprise, Van der Rheede welcomed Capa, who is no stranger to government.
She has a long-standing interest in agriculture and agritourism and, according to Parliament’s website, she holds a Master’s degree in health sciences from Western Sydney University in Australia. It ranks in the top 2% of universities worldwide.
Until yesterday, Capa served as the deputy minister of small business development. “We trust that she will support minister Thoko Didiza and play a major role in terms of farmer support and development,” says Van der Rheede.
Furthermore, the Agri SA boss says new finance minister Enoch Godongwana is no stranger to the agricultural sector. The organisation previously had many interactions with him in his role as the chairperson of the Development Bank of South Africa.
“He has a passion for development,” say Van der Rheede. “We trust that he will collaborate closely with the private sector to establish a conducive environment to attract investment and drive economic growth.”
Godongwana holds a Master’s degree in financial economics from the University of London. As a close ally of Ramaphosa, Godongwana succeeds Tito Mboweni who had held the post since 2018.
In his late-night address, Ramaphosa shocked South Africans with news that he had accepted a “long-standing request” by Mboweni to resign. The president says, “… he has effectively and ably steered National Treasury through extremely difficult economic times, providing stability and instilling confidence.”
A great loss, but…
While Mboweni’s resignation is certainly a great loss for the country, Bloomberg reports that Godongwana is well known by local and international investors.
It says the new finance chief has been an advocate of investor-friendly policies, and previously cautioned against proposals by the ANC to nationalise the central bank and change the Constitution to make it easier to seize land without compensation.
These sentiments are echoed by political editor Jan-Jan Joubert who tells Food For Mzansi that Godongwana’s appointment should be a great boost to especially commercial agriculture.
“He was the man within the national executive committee of the ANC to hold the line against expropriation without compensation and state trusteeship of land. He held that line very, very firmly.”
Godongwana understands the importance of agriculture, says Joubert.
“He is sure to also understand the importance of communal agriculture coming from the rural Eastern Cape. He has a chequered past. He had a rather scandal-plagued start to politics in the formal sense when he was in the Eastern Cape government, but that has been a long time past.
“His position within the ANC NEC has been one of responsibility and fiscal conservatism which should serve the agricultural community well.”
Joubert cautions, however, that following the cabinet reshuffle Godongwana will have to answer questions about his role in the Canyon Springs scandal.
Godongwana and his wife were among six people implicated after more than R100-million was lost when pension fund money was illegally loaned to the collapsed investment company in which they owned a 50% interest.
Strategic ‘water move’
Meanwhile, independent political and policy analyst Theo Venter says Thoko Didiza’s survival of Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle signals stability to the agricultural sector. Didiza first served in this role under the late President Nelson Mandela and was later re-appointed by Ramaphosa to lead the key ministry.
“Didiza is still sorting out major issues, but she will have a new deputy minister to assist her in that portfolio,” adds Venter. He describes Capa’s appointment as “a very good change in the ministry.”
Venter says agriculture should also welcome Ramaphosa’s decision to separate the ministry of water and sanitation from human settlements. Senzo Mchunu and Dikeledi Magadzi have been appointed as the new minister and deputy minister, respectively. Mchunu was the previous minister of public affairs, but he has now been “promoted”.
The agricultural sector should also take note of Godongwana’s appointment as finance minister, adds Venter.
“He is a loyal Ramaphosa supporter and, economically speaking, he has a middle-of-the-road approach to the economy. I don’t expect any changes in that department at all.”
The cabinet reshuffle was a direct response to the violence and the looting that witnessed in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last month, explains Venter.
“It was important for Ramaphosa to have also moved the state security agency under the wing of the Presidency and to bring in Dr Sydney Mfumadi as his new security advisor.
“There is a renewed urgency for government to look at the management of security [issues] and, to add to that, Thandi Modise was appointed as minister of defence; a good appointment. Bheke Celi remains the minister of police. I don’t think there was ever a chance that he would have been removed. Ramaphosa needs him too much in KwaZulu-Natal’s current political climate.”