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Reshuffle kerfuffle

We are not quite sure what to make of the comprehensive shifting of the deck chairs on the glacially-slow-moving Super-Tanker, The Ramaphosa.

Reshuffle was definitely the word. (Is that the sound of slippers shuffling along the corridors as a rather sorry group of people switch rooms.) The president has disappointed those among us who had hoped some brand new appointments and clear messaging might just build on the (faltering) momentum we have seen with action on corruption and the moves to privatise SAA.

One highlight for us was Thandi Modise for Defence: What is not to like! We do like a lady in camo gear. Besides, this struggle stalwart, as a former uMkhonto we Sizwe commander, is actually qualified for the job. We are going to have a little advance sip of our Women’s Day Bubbly.

We were not surprised that Tito Mboweni was released from duty as Minister of Finance, a role he had grudgingly accepted. Though he was always gracious, he made no secret of the fact that it was not a position that he particularly wanted. He will soon be back on the farm doing what he really wants to do, and who can blame him. Avocados or austerity: not really a tough choice.

Die baas of Magoebaskloof: Tito Mboweni has gone back to the farm

He had dropped his guard (and a few bombs) during a media briefing last week, by discussing a proposal to allow workers to access some of their retirement savings in times of distress. No such proposal has been published by Treasury and it appears to run counter to the general policy shift towards encouraging and supporting retirement saving.

Pensions regulation in SA is still quite a mess with workers in corporate funds being able to access their whole pot of savings if they leave a job, which in some extreme cases incentivises people to leave their jobs (just to access their savings).

Retirement saving is still considered a nice-to-have, a luxury even, with workers dipping in and cashing out in what seems to be quite a random fashion (shooting themselves in the foot, getting up again, limping on etc).

The 10X Investments South African Retirement Reality Report 2020 found that nearly half (49%) of South Africans do not have a retirement savings plan at all. Of the respondents who said did have some sort of retirement plan, 75% were worried about whether they would have enough to live on after they retired.

Read more: A little reality in a sea of illusion about retirement funding

Whether the new Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana – who has a background in the unions yet is described as being “well-known in Big Business circles” – will give a damn about workers and their pensions remains to be seen.

But back to that reshuffle …
As for consolidating the intelligence services, such as they are, in the Presidency maybe that is evidence of lessons learnt … or the stable door being shut a little late. Either way, we can only hope that the damn Presidential iPad is returned to its rightful owner.

It is hard to know what to say about the Health Ministry except that things can’t really be worse than before. It is a shame that Zwele Mkhize – who had certainly not covered himself in glory before immersing himself in muck – was not fired. Allowing him to resign and then giving him a warm sendoff makes Uncle Cyril look weak at best, dishonorable at worst. Sigh.

But then when your Top Cop is a dandy crossed with a gangster …

On a more serious note, critical even … Good luck to Dr Joe Phaahla, the new Minister of Health, all of Mzansi wishes you well. Your success is our survival!

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