The abrupt cabinet reshuffle by President Zuma last night might have been good news for the Finance Department and the economy but it most certainly is a nightmare of epic proportions for the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs portfolio.
The redeployment of Mr Desmond van Rooyen as Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs does not bode well for local government, and bares no logic.
Mr van Rooyen is ill-suited for COGTA and President Zuma’s decision is this regard is reckless, desperate and irresponsible.
Mr van Rooyen failed dismally as Mayor of Merafong, and therefore to expect him to oversee 278 municipalities is a case of mistaken priorities and bears the hallmarks of yet another poor instance of judgement on the Presidents part.
Mr van Rooyen’s track record in local government does not inspire confidence; it is track record riddled with failure, incompetence and chaos.
It is extremely concerning that the President would change COGTA Ministers on the eve of the 2016 Local Government Elections, especially given the high number of boundary changes and mergers of some municipalities which will be part of the 2016 electoral process which in the main reside with the Minister of COGTA.
Next year South Africa will have 11 less municipalities and the complexities of mergers have proven to be very difficult for van Rooyen who was found wanting when Merafong was moved from Gauteng to the North West Province.
Whilst the President’s ill-conceived axing of Minister Nhlanhla Nene needed to be corrected, but such a correction should not be at the expense of other portfolios.
The redeployment of Minister Gordhan has robbed Peter (COGTA) to pay Paul (Finance).
We can only hope that van Rooyen’s stay at COGTA will be as brief as his tenure at the Finance Ministry.