Will cabinet reshuffle quell maritime momentum?

As we welcome Ms Dipuo Peters as the new Minister of Transport, one has to wonder at the rationale behind President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet restructure that will see the relatively new (and now ex) Minister of Transport, Ben Dikobe Martins, shuffle off towards the Department of Energy.

Having declared 2013 Maritime Year and called for a complete review of current and proposed maritime policy to be on his desk by July this year, Mr Martins has been replaced at what could have become a landmark milestone for the industry had this backlog  been moved forward.

Speaking to the industry in March ahead of the BRICS summit, Mr Martins was persuasive about his desire to see the maritime industry shrug off its “Cinderella status” and seemed to have tasked stakeholders in the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) as well as the Ports’ Regulator to provide a road map (or more aptly a navigational chart) to move the sector forward.

At the same gathering Martins said: “I was not here ten years ago, but it is my responsibility to solve the obstacles and challenges that are there. I am the Minister of Transport; it is my responsibility to address the challenges.”

Well – he is no longer the Minister of Transport and so I guess it is no longer his responsibility to address these challenges. That task now falls to Ms Peters. Let us hope that she reclaims this mandate and moves it forward without loss of momentum.

If not, then I suspect the industry may well be more than a little frustrated at the thought of having to resurrect the maritime sensitisation process with a new minister.

I would be interested to get some feedback from the Presidency at the thought processes behind this latest reshuffle. Why does President Zuma believe that Ms Peters will make a more effective Minister of Transport? Is he disappointed in the progress made by Mr Martins? Will the two ministers sit down and discuss their previous portfolios with each other?

Oh – and one last question. Why are some Ministers left in positions where their effectiveness is continuously questioned – because that seems more than a little fishy to me?

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