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Senzo Mchunu appointed acting Agriculture Minister in South Africa

Former agriculture minister Thoko Didiza was elected National Assembly Speaker at the first sitting of the National Assembly on Friday. In her place, Senzo Mchunu, the minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, was appointed acting minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

Ibrahim Patel, the minister of Trade and Industry, and Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the minister of Electricity, are two examples of ministers who were chosen from outside the assembly. The constitution gave the president the prerogative to appoint whomever he pleased to the Cabinet, but only two of these appointments could be made from outside the assembly.

The event of the Government of National Unity (GNU), however, meant that the new cabinet not only had to satisfy the expectations of the ruling ANC but also those of the other GNU members, namely the DA, IFP, Good and the Patriotic Alliance: "With the GNU you can expect every single position, whether an ANC appointment or not, to be negotiated."

Venter expected the president to appoint 24 to 25 cabinet members, and for the DA to get five to seven and the IFP two of these positions: "The ANC will try to retain sought-after positions, such as Foreign Affairs, Police, Defence and Finance, but the DA will probably be able to get one of these portfolios."

Bennie van Zyl, general manager of TLU SA, is worried that the appointment of Mchunu as acting Minister of Agriculture might indicate that he would become the new agriculture minister: "I don't know if Mchunu knows much about agriculture or if he would be good in the position, but he did not do a great job at the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation and we are still in a dispute with the department about faulty bills. We don't understand why Didiza could not continue in her position as minister of Agriculture until the new minister was appointed."


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