South Africa named MTN Group Ltd. Chairman Cyril Ramaphosa as deputy head of the country’s National Planning Commission, marking the former presidential candidate’s first position in government.
President Jacob Zuma also named Bobby Godsell, former chairman of state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings Ltd., as one of 24 commissioners to work with Ramaphosa and former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who heads the commission. Zuma made the announcement to reporters in Pretoria today.
Ramaphosa, one of the country’s wealthiest black businessmen, quit politics in 1996 after losing to Thabo Mbeki in the race to succeed President Nelson Mandela as leader of the ruling African National Congress. He will be joined by other business leaders on the commission, while the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which initially opposed Manuel as head of the unit, only got two of the 13 candidates they proposed onto the planning body.
“It is surprisingly pro-business,” said Peter Attard Montalto, an economist at Nomura International Plc in London. “Overall, it seems to be a victory for Trevor Manuel over the leftists elements of the cabinet, but it remains to be seen quite what influence it can leave over policy formation.”
The only Cosatu candidates on the commission are Chris Malikane, an economist at the University of Witwatersrand, and Karl von Holdt, a labor researcher.
The commission has a “balance between labor and business,” Manuel told a press conference in Pretoria. “This is not a job.” It’s a “call to national service.”
Cosatu, which backed Zuma in his election bid, toned down its objections to the commission after initially saying that Manuel may have too much power over other government departments. Manuel has been criticized by unions for slashing the budget deficit and reining-in state spending while he was finance minister for more than a decade.
“We are cautious about the appointments and will have to see how things develop,” said Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven. “There are people there that have sympathies with labor, but obviously some that are pro-business. We will look critically at the role they play.”
The commission plans to set goals for the country to attain by 2025, including reducing poverty, inequality, unemployment and crime. South Africa’s economy will grow 3 percent on average over the next three years, half the rate that’s required to cut the jobless rate to 14 percent by 2014 from 24.3 percent currently, the National Treasury forecasts.
National Union of Mineworkers
“The commission is asked to take an independent, cross- cutting, critical and long-term view” of issues such as water supply, food, energy security and climate change, Zuma said.
Ramaphosa was nominated to the commission by the National Union of Mineworkers, which he helped form in 1982. He led the union from its creation until 1991, when he was elected secretary-general of the ANC. Ramaphosa was a member of parliament between 1994 and 1996, and headed the Constitutional Assembly that drew up the country’s post-apartheid Constitution.
Joel Netshitenzhe, the former head of policy coordination in the Presidency, who resigned in October, will return to the government as one of the commissioners. Vincent Maphai, former chairman of the South African operations of BHP Billiton Ltd., and Jerry Vilakazi, head of Business Unity South Africa, were also appointed to the commission.
Members Positions Trevor Manuel Former finance minister Cyril Ramaphosa Chairman, MTN Group Ltd. Bobby Godsell Former chairman, Eskom Holdings Ltd. Elias Masilela Head of policy, Sanlam Ltd. Jerry Vilakazi Chairman, Business Unity South Africa Noluthando Gosa CEO, Akhona Properties Jennifer Molwantwa Head of Hydrology, Digby Wells & Assoc. Mike Muller Former director-general, Water Ministry Miriam Altman Human Sciences Research Council Chris Malikane Economics professor, Wits University Vivienne Taylor University of Cape Town Marcus Balintulo Vice-chancellor, Walter Sisulu Univ. Vuyokazi Mahlati University of Stellenbosch Malekgapuru Makgoba Vice-chancellor, Univ. of Kwazulu-Natal Joel Netshitenzhe Former head of policy, Presidency Anton Eberhard University of Cape Town Bridgette Gasa Elilox Trading (Pty) Ltd. Thandabantu Goba Ebenezer Moahloli Engineers Phillip Harrison University of Witwatersrand Ihron Rensburg Vice-chancellor, Univ. of Johannesburg Jerry Coovadia Scientific director, Univ. of Natal Karl von Holdt Labor researcher Mohammed Karaan Agrisciences, Univ. of Stellenbosh Tasneem Essop WWF Pascal Moloi Managing Director, Resolve Group Vincent Maphai Former chairman, BHP Billiton South Africa