Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The cabinet has been announced -- Buthelezi is out and Van Schalkwyk, to my surprise, is in (as Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism). The message seems to be that loyalty will be rewarded, even ahead of competence (sadly, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang remains Minister of Health).

The composition of the cabinet is interesting for other reasons. A single representative of AZAPO has been brought in, as have 5 new women, meaning that out of 49 ministers and deputies, 22 are women. If one considers that there is also a sprinkling of white people (Alec Erwin, Derek Hanekom, Van Schalkwyk) then it seems that Mbeki is attempting to construct a cabinet that is roughly representative of South Africa's demographics. Admirable, up to a point. But it also seems to reflect the ANC's view of democracy -- all racial groups, and even opposing ideological viewpoints, should be brought into the broad church of the ANC, where a consensus on key issues will be hammered out. In this way, the party becomes a type of Parliament, and Parliament becomes, well, I guess a place for Tony Leon to let off steam. For a variety of reasons, not least this, I think that this approach to governance is unwise.

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