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Monday, 01 July 2024 13:54

DA has a vital role in the reconstruction of South Africa |Steenhuisen.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen says they will use their representation in every portfolio to make sure that the voices of voters are heard.

Steenhuisen gave a post-cabinet announcement address on Monday morning to outline how the DA planned to use its new portfolios.  

President Cyril Ramaphosa granted the DA 12 cabinet positions, six ministerial positions and six deputy minister posts.

Steenhuisen's agriculture post was one of six portfolios that went to the DA. The party's chief whip, Siviwe Gwarube, will become education minister, while its KwaZulu-Natal provincial chair, Dean Macpherson, was named minister of public works.

Leon Schreiber is the minister of home affairs, while Solly Malatsi takes the communications department and Dion George is the minister of forestry, fisheries and the environment. The party also secured deputy ministers in other portfolios. 

With the inclusion of all the other parties, and first and second deputy ministers, Ramaphosa's government consists of 75 ministers and deputies, making it the largest since 1994. 

Steenhuisen said politicians and their parties had not created the government of national unity (GNU) but it rather reflected the electorate's decision to take away the ANC's outright majority while growing the DA's position as the second-biggest party in the country. 

He thanked voters for taking away the African National Congress (ANC) majority but stated that South Africa's problems would not be solved by politicians alone.

Steenhuisen urged citizens to reach out to elected officials to drive solutions and promote collaboration between the government and the public.

Thanking the DA negotiating team for their "robust" efforts, Steenhuisen said their focus would be to build on the work they have done at the municipal and provincial levels.

Steenhuisen said he had already told DA members in cabinet and deputy minister posts that "they carry an enormous responsibility on their shoulders". 

"Most importantly, the responsibility these individuals bear reflects the will of the people who voted for the DA in 2024 to rescue South Africa."

Ramaphosa long-awaited cabinet, announced on Sunday, comprises members of the ANC, the DA, as well as the Inkatha Freedom Party, Patriotic Alliance, Freedom Front Plus, the GOOD Party, Al Jama-ah and the United Democratic Movement.

Industry body Agri SA has welcomed Steenhuisen's appointment as the new Agriculture Minister, as well as Mzwanele Nyhontso's appointment as Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, with these departments having been separated as respective ministries.

"These appointments come at a critical juncture and we are confident that under their leadership the agriculture sector will thrive and continue to be a cornerstone of the economy," says Agri SA CEO Johann Kotzé.

Agri SA reiterates the importance of addressing three critical areas that are vital for the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation, including improving productivity, sustainability and profitability, towards food security.

By improving these factors, social stability across the country can also improve, the entity states.

Kotzé adds that increased exports, the pursuit of new markets and enhanced competitiveness can ensure that the agriculture sector continues to support the economy, while Agri SA will also continue to promote policies and practices that protect and enhance natural resources to ensure long-term viability of the sector.

The Agricultural Research Council has also welcomed the new appointments.

Meanwhile Chair of the Democratic Alliance (DA) federal council Helen Zille said it had no information on the massive increase in national executive posts and Cabinet.

Zille said the DA had no knowledge of Ramaphosa's Cabinet configurations, until the president made the announcement in the televised address.

"I supposed everybody had to compromise a bit but we didn't know that the president was going to increase the Cabinet so substantially and give the ANC so much than what was proportionally their due. We did not know about the size of the Cabinet.

"What we did know was which portfolios we were getting and which deputy ministers we were getting. That we did know, but for the rest we didn’t have any information," she said.

Zille, however, added that the DA also knew that Cabinet portfolios like agriculture and land reform would be split.

She said from that information, one could not conclude that Cabinet was going to increase, because some departments could be contracted in a bid to manage the size of Cabinet.

The DA had been pushing for a leaner Cabinet in the run up to the May 29 general elections.

"We are accepting our six positions. Certainly, the expansion of Cabinet has nothing to do with the DA taking more positions than it is entitled to in terms of the proportionality clause. The expansion comes from many other parties getting a lot more than they were entitled to, "said Zille.