2012 will be remembered both as a tragic year for South Africa and a turning point in our democracy. From the tragedy at Marikana, to the textbook crises in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape; from 'Nkandlagate' to R5 billion in spending on entertainment by government departments; 2012 revealed with more clarity than ever before the extent to which we have a leaderless government which is not delivering.
As the official opposition in Parliament the Democratic Alliance (DA) has a mandate to hold the executive to account and to provide oversight over its performance. The 2012 Cabinet Report Card aims to do just this, by providing an overview of how the President, Deputy President and the 34 Cabinet Ministers have fared during 2012.
In doing so, our report card seeks to give effect to Section 92(2) of the Constitution which provides that "Members of Cabinet are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and the performance of their functions."
The DA's 2012 Cabinet Report Card allocates scores to each Minister, the President and the Deputy President based on qualitative broad criteria including:
• Policy Direction: Does the Minister have a clearly articulated vision for his/ her department and has he/ she been effective in implementing this vision?
• Attitude towards Accountability & Attendance in Parliament: What is the Minister's conduct in office, particularly regarding his/ her approach to accountability and his/ her attitude to parliament?
• Finance and Administration: Does the Minister keep a tight hand on the purse strings of his/ her department and how has the Department or office performed under his/ her watch?
Each Member of Cabinet, on the basis of this analysis, was given a score between an A and an F.
In an effort to make this Report Card more constructive and to indicate where we believe that Members of the Executive can and must improve delivery, the report card also includes a section on "Challenges for 2013".
This assessment is not only about what went wrong, but also about what the executive can do to get it right.
Leading the worst performers in Cabinet this year, President Zuma failed comprehensively to provide effective leadership in government, failing to solve crises that were often preventable and regularly being a direct cause of the challenges faced by his government. These include:
• The lacklustre response by the government to the tensions leading up to and following the Marikana Tragedy, and his subsequent reaction to on-going labour unrest across the country;
• The ruling by the Constitutional Court that Mr Zuma's appointment of Menzi Simelane as National Director of Public Prosecutions was "irrational" and "invalid";
• The failure of the National Prosecuting Authority to comply with a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal to hand over the 'Spy Tapes' to the DA, and the President's failure to intervene in this constitutional crisis;
• The 'Nkandlagate' scandal, which continues to worsen by the day, and has already cost the public more than a quarter of a billion rand. There is growing evidence to suggest that the President was aware of the costs, and has misled Parliament in trying to argue his lack of involvement;
• The lack of economic policy direction and the continued existence of two competing economic plans in government, neither of which has any hope of being implemented. The downgrading of South Africa's credit rating by Standard & Poor and Moody's was an indictment of Mr Zuma's handling of the economy. The President continues to kow-tow to COSATU and the SACP at the expense of delivering on policy promises.
These failures resulted in President Zuma scoring an 'F'.
They were also the motivation for the decision by the DA, together with seven opposition parties, to table a motion of no confidence in the President last month. His performance in 2012 is clear evidence that Mr Zuma should no longer be entrusted with the highest office in the land.
This stands in contrast to Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, whom we have scored a 'C'. While he was not the top performer in Cabinet this past year, Mr Motlanthe displayed noteworthy qualities which President Zuma clearly lacks: a dedication to the Constitution; an honest approach to the serious challenges facing the government and a willingness to engage openly with Parliament and with South Africans.
Unlike President Zuma's "head-in-the-sand" attitude towards the failures of the government under the ANC, Mr Motlanthe has acknowledged the right of South Africans to "...judge the ANC for what it is and not what it was." While he must get off the political fence by more openly declaring his policy preferences, and while he could do more to crack the whip as Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, 2012 has shown clearly that Mr Motlanthe would make a better Head of State for South Africa than his principal.
Some of the other worst performers who received an 'F' are Minister of Labour, Mildred Olifant, who was missing in action during a number of South Africa's biggest labour disputes since the end of Apartheid; Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, who has presided over the militarisation of an increasingly violent police force; Minister of State Security, Siyabonga Cwele, who has continued to drive his unconstitutional 'secrecy bill' agenda and violate the separation of powers by dictating to MPs how they should legislate; and Minister in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, who has done virtually no monitoring and evaluation of the government, and has failed to contribute at all to any improved performance in cabinet.
It is worth acknowledging separately the disastrous and embarrassing tenure of Tina Joemat-Peterson as Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, who also received an 'F'. Her handling of almost every single matter before her has been so incompetent and negligent that there is no longer any doubt that she should be removed from cabinet without any further delay.
These unfortunate performances compare poorly with those of the handful of top-achievers in the government. The Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, and the current Minister of Home Affairs, Naledi Pandor, rated for previous position as Minister of Science and Technology, stand out in this regard, both receiving an 'A' for their hard work in improving delivery on their mandates. Ms Pandor will need to build on the successes of former Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in her new ministry so that the progress at the department is continued.
They are joined by the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies and the Minister of Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk who all received a commendable 'B'.
2013 will bring a whole new set of challenges for the executive. Some of these will be a continuation of the crises South Africa has witnessed in 2012, others will be unavoidable, while others still can be prevented if action is taken wisely. As we seek to build a South Africa that works smartly and effectively for all the people, it is essential that our government is held to the standard of bold leadership at all times, by a President and a cabinet who put the interests of South Africans above their own.
The DA will be there every step of the way: holding the executive to account, providing alternative policy solutions, and championing respect for the Constitution and the values enshrined in the Bill of Rights. By doing so, we remain committed to making sure that South Africa truly delivers on the promise of 1994.
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