Leading figures in SA’s new cabinet

Leading figures in SA’s new cabinet

JOHANNESBURG – Following are profiles of leading members of the South African cabinet announced by President Thabo Mbeki yesterday: JACOB ZUMA – Deputy President Zuma (62) kept his job as Mbeki’s number two despite media allegations – that he denies – tying him to a corruption scandal in a US$4,7 billion arms procurement deal.

Whether the popular Zulu politician stays in place to succeed Mbeki as president in 2009 remains to be seen. He is an able negotiator and has become Pretoria’s main diplomat for central African conflicts, where South Africa has played a key role in regional peace deals.A former member of the African National Congress’s (ANC) military wing with close ties among the former exile community, Zuma rose to become head of intelligence – a position which has given him leverage over political allies and opponents alike.He has received broad ANC backing amid demands from opposition parties that he resign over the allegations.NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA – Foreign Minister Dlamini-Zuma, a former wife of Jacob Zuma and often mentioned as a possible candidate for his job, has emerged as a key Mbeki confidante and the most powerful woman in the South African government.First named foreign minister in 1999, the 55-year-old has been credited with maintaining a sharp diplomatic focus on Mbeki’s priorities including African development and solidarity with other developing countries.Often shy and unassuming in public, Dlamini-Zuma is nevertheless a powerful behind-the-scenes operator and is known to have Mbeki’s ear.Before becoming foreign minister she was health minister and worked in British hospitals during exile from 1977-1990.TREVOR MANUEL – Finance Minister Also keeping his job is Trevor Manuel, who has shown skittish financial markets their fears about the transformation of the continent’s biggest economy were largely unfounded.Since taking office eight years ago, he has brought down inflation, public debt and the budget deficit, winning the respect of overseas investors and becoming the most widely respected minister in post-apartheid South Africa.Political savvy and a strong personality enabled Manuel (48) to implement market-friendly policies opposed by both the ruling ANC’s left-wing allies and many members of the country’s conservative white business community.An engineer by training, Manuel established his political credentials during the 1980s as a radical activist in the United Democratic Front, the internal wing of the ANC.MANTO TSHABALALA-MSIMANG – Health Minister Arguably South Africa’s most controversial minister, Tshabalala-Msimang has borne the brunt of criticism that Mbeki’s government has failed to cope with an HIV-AIDS epidemic which now infects some one in nine South Africans.Strong willed and sharp tongued, she was named health minister in 1999 and infuriated AIDS activists by questioning scientific links between HIV and AIDS and throwing doubt on the effectiveness of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.Analysts say the 63-year-old who earned medical degrees in Russia, Tanzania and the Netherlands during 28 years in exile, reflects Mbeki’s own ambivalence about South Africa’s AIDS crisis, although for critics she has come to personify the government’s lacklustre response.Despite her history of opposing ARVs, Tshabalala-Msimang this year finally launched a national programme to bring the medicines to AIDS patients — although critics worry the government may not have the political will to fully implement the plan.PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA – Minerals and Energy South Africa’s mining industry and its powerful unions have both praised Mlambo-Ngcuka’s performance in a key ministry, where since 1999 she has overseen efforts to bring transfer more ownership to black hands.Mlambo-Ngcuka (50) helped to draft an empowerment plan requiring that the historically white-owned sector, one of South Africa’s richest, is 15 per cent black-owned within five years and 26 per cent after a decade.The so-called Mining Charter, due to be passed by parliament this year, has been hailed as a model of how to begin transforming South Africa’s economy, and a sign the ANC government can work together with big business.THOKO DIDIZA – Agriculture and Land Didiza has earned plaudits for guiding South Africa’s land reform policy and is seen as a rising star within the ANC.First given the agriculture portfolio in 1999, the 38-year-old has avoided any hint that South Africa may follow Zimbabwe’s lead in violently seizing white-owned farms for landless blacks, promoting instead a sustainable programme based on willing-buyer, willing-seller approach.The issue is nevertheless key for South Africa, where most of the country’s prime agricultural land remains in white hands 10 years after the end of apartheid.- Nampa-ReutersHe is an able negotiator and has become Pretoria’s main diplomat for central African conflicts, where South Africa has played a key role in regional peace deals.A former member of the African National Congress’s (ANC) military wing with close ties among the former exile community, Zuma rose to become head of intelligence – a position which has given him leverage over political allies and opponents alike.He has received broad ANC backing amid demands from opposition parties that he resign over the allegations.NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA – Foreign Minister Dlamini-Zuma, a former wife of Jacob Zuma and often mentioned as a possible candidate for his job, has emerged as a key Mbeki confidante and the most powerful woman in the South African government.First named foreign minister in 1999, the 55-year-old has been credited with maintaining a sharp diplomatic focus on Mbeki’s priorities including African development and solidarity with other developing countries.Often shy and unassuming in public, Dlamini-Zuma is nevertheless a powerful behind-the-scenes operator and is known to have Mbeki’s ear.Before becoming foreign minister she was health minister and worked in British hospitals during exile from 1977-1990.TREVOR MANUEL – Finance Minister Also keeping his job is Trevor Manuel, who has shown skittish financial markets their fears about the transformation of the continent’s biggest economy were largely unfounded.Since taking office eight years ago, he has brought down inflation, public debt and the budget deficit, winning the respect of overseas investors and becoming the most widely respected minister in post-apartheid South Africa.Political savvy and a strong personality enabled Manuel (48) to implement market-friendly policies opposed by both the ruling ANC’s left-wing allies and many members of the country’s conservative white business community.An engineer by training, Manuel established his political credentials during the 1980s as a radical activist in the United Democratic Front, the internal wing of the ANC.MANTO TSHABALALA-MSIMANG – Health Minister Arguably South Africa’s most controversial minister, Tshabalala-Msimang has borne the brunt of criticism that Mbeki’s government has failed to cope with an HIV-AIDS epidemic which now infects some one in nine South Africans.Strong willed and sharp tongued, she was named health minister in 1999 and infuriated AIDS activists by questioning scientific links between HIV and AIDS and throwing doubt on the effectiveness of anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs.Analysts say the 63-year-old who earned medical degrees in Russia, Tanzania and the Netherlands during 28 years in exile, reflects Mbeki’s own ambivalence about South Africa’s AIDS crisis, although for critics she has come to personify the government’s lacklustre response.Despite her history of opposing ARVs, Tshabalala-Msimang this year finally launched a national programme to bring the medicines to AIDS patients — although critics worry the government may not have the political will to fully implement the plan.PHUMZILE MLAMBO-NGCUKA – Minerals and Energy South Africa’s mining industry and its powerful unions have both praised Mlambo-Ngcuka’s performance in a key ministry, where since 1999 she has overseen efforts to bring transfer more ownership to black hands.Mlambo-Ngcuka (50) helped to draft an empowerment pla
n requiring that the historically white-owned sector, one of South Africa’s richest, is 15 per cent black-owned within five years and 26 per cent after a decade.The so-called Mining Charter, due to be passed by parliament this year, has been hailed as a model of how to begin transforming South Africa’s economy, and a sign the ANC government can work together with big business.THOKO DIDIZA – Agriculture and Land Didiza has earned plaudits for guiding South Africa’s land reform policy and is seen as a rising star within the ANC.First given the agriculture portfolio in 1999, the 38-year-old has avoided any hint that South Africa may follow Zimbabwe’s lead in violently seizing white-owned farms for landless blacks, promoting instead a sustainable programme based on willing-buyer, willing-seller approach.The issue is nevertheless key for South Africa, where most of the country’s prime agricultural land remains in white hands 10 years after the end of apartheid.- Nampa-Reuters

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