Michael Jordaan should be finance minister

Michael Jordaan

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet does not include a single skilled and experienced industry expert. Instead, it is packed with politicians looking after their own interests.

On Sunday night, Ramaphosa, an hour late for his own announcement, unveiled his new national executive.

This announcement followed the President’s election by the National Assembly on Friday, 14 June 2024, and Ramaphosa’s inauguration on Wednesday, 19 June 2024.

Ramaphosa was elected as part of a government of national unity (GNU) with eleven parties, the ANC, DA, PA, IFP, Good, PAC, FF Plus, UDM, UAT, Al Jama-ah, and Rise Mzansi.

Many of these parties have previously called for a smaller cabinet and more efficient state, including in the ANC and DA.

In his 2018 State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa promised to cut the size of his cabinet and national government departments.

The DA called for a reconfiguration of the government with 15 ministries to create a nimble, cost-effective executive.

However, when the ANC and DA started negotiating cabinet decisions, these promises quickly disappeared. It was all about who could get what.

Ramaphosa’s new bloated cabinet ended up with 32 ministers and 43 deputy ministers. It has little to do with service delivery and is all about political rewards.

He claimed a smaller cabinet was impossible because of the “need to ensure that the National Executive is inclusive of all the parties to the Government of National Unity”.

He even separated certain portfolios to accommodate all the new people “to ensure sufficient focus on key issues.”

The reality is that it had nothing to do with creating a competent and efficient national executive. It was about rewarding the political elite.

All the important parties, including the ANC, DA, IFP, Good, FF Plus, PAC, and PA, received ministerial positions.

It was striking that all the party leaders elected themselves to be ministers. Not one opted to step aside for a more competent person to serve.

John Steenhuisen could have asked the Southern African Agri Initiative’s Theo de Jager to serve as Agriculture Minister. However, he thinks he is more competent.

The ANC could have employed a former army general as Minister of Defence, but it opted for former high school teacher Angie Motshekga.

Daily Investor previously asked political parties whether they would employ competent technocrats instead of connected politicians in the cabinet if they were elected.

Not a single political party wanted to answer this question. It is now clear why. Despite their complaints about the ANC’s cadre deployment, they all subscribe to this concept.

Michael Jordaan should be finance minister

Former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan

In the United States, there is a strong focus on appointing competent industry experts to important cabinet positions.

For example, the Secretary of Defense is almost always a retired general, and the Secretary of the Treasury is an experienced financial and economic industry expert.

The current Secretary of Defense is retired US Army four-star general Lloyd Austin, and the Secretary of the Treasury is Janet Yellen, who has a PhD in economics from Yale.

The previous Secretary of the Treasury was Steven Mnuchin, a former banker and investment specialist who worked at Goldman Sachs and founded OneWest Bank Group.

It raises the question of who would make a great Finance Minister in South Africa. Many options exist, including former Absa CEO Maria Ramos and Nedbank chairman Daniel Mminele.

However, one name stands out— former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan. He is the most successful banking chief executive of his generation and has an exceptional track record.

He steered FNB through the 2008 financial crisis and was behind the bank being named the most innovative bank in the world.

Jordaan is also well qualified. He completed M.Comm in economics and PhD in banking supervision degrees at Stellenbosch University.

He held numerous senior banking positions in his twenties and early thirties before taking over at FNB at age 36.

He is an incredible talent with a deep understanding of the South African and global financial, economic, and business sectors.

Jordaan is also brilliant with the media. Search for his name and you will only find positive articles about him and his ventures.

Jordaan left FNB in 2013 to become an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He is behind many successful ventures, including mobile operator Rain and Bank Zero.

He is undoubtedly enjoying his new life, helping entrepreneurs build great businesses, mountain biking on his wine farm, and appreciating his award-winning Bartinney wines.

However, it is obtuse for the government to waste the talents of a person like Michael Jordaan. There are not many Michael Jordaans in South Africa—or globally, for that matter.

If he represented South Africa on the global stage, like at the annual Davos World Economic Forum, money would flood into the country.

The fact that his name, and the names of many other brilliant South Africans, were not even mentioned during cabinet negotiations tells a concerning tale.

Political rhetoric about putting the country first, ensuring government departments work, and fixing the economy was purely about getting votes.

When given the opportunity to cut down the size of the government and employ the best people as ministers after the elections, things quickly changed.

All the political leaders fought for was getting a ministerial position for themselves and their political allies. Nothing more.


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