Six South African Indians in Zuma cabinet

May 10th, 2009 - 9:48 pm ICT by IANS  

By Fakir Hassen
Pretoria, May 10 (IANS) Six South Africans of Indian origin have been included in the cabinet of new President Jacob Zuma, including the much-spoken about Pravin Gordhan as finance minister and Ebrahim Patel as minister of economic affairs.

The four deputy ministers are Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, deputy minister of international relations and co-operation affairs; Roy Padayachee, public services and administration; Enver Surtee, basic education; and Yunus Carrim, co-operative government and traditional affairs.

Gordhan is a former activist of the Natal Indian Congress, which was disbanded after the first democratic elections in 1994 that brought the ANC to power. His former socialist beliefs were transformed into those of a pragmatist as he turned the country’s tax collection regimes on its head.

Within seven years of his tenure, Gordhan led his team to raise more than two trillion rands in taxes through improved tax collection efficiencies and almost doubling the country’s tax payers from four million.

Ebrahim Patel is a veteran labour activist who has also led many local and international labour initiatives. He has been general secretary of the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (Sactwu), fighting strongly the case of local workers who had been particularly hard hit by cheap imports.

Ismail Ebrahim is a veteran of the freedom struggle, having served two terms as a political prisoner on Robben Island. After the first democratic elections in 1994, he became a member of parliament and chairperson of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. In 2002 he resigned from parliament to become a political advisor, recognised as a local expert on Sri Lanka.

Padayachee, Surtee and Carrim have all served in the previous government in various capacities.

A former high commissioner to India, Maite Mashabane, will head the ministry of international relations.

Former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, who replaced Thabo Mbeki after the latter was recalled by the African National Congress last year following the election of Zuma as ANC President, is now South Africa’s deputy president.

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