11 May 2009

Zuma makes sweeping changes to South Africa cabinet

9:07 am on 11 May 2009

South Africa's president Jacob Zuma announced a major overhaul of government on Sunday.

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel was appointed to head a powerful new planning body, keeping him at the heart of policy-making in President Jacob Zuma's first cabinet.

Mr Manuel had been in the job for 13 years, making him the world's longest-serving finance minister. Investors approved of the tight monetary and fiscal policies he kept in place.

Tax authority chief Pravin Gordhan replaces Mr Manuel in another sign of continuity as Africa's biggest economy heads towards its first recession in 17 years.

As well coping with the fallout from the global financial crisis, President Zuma also faces pressure to deliver on 15 years of promises by his ruling African National Congress to tackle widespread poverty, crime and AIDS, and create jobs.

The key health ministry has changed hands, going to relatively unknown provincial education head Aaron Motsoaledi while Barbara Hogan -- in the health job for only seven months -- was moved to the key public enterprises post.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was not appointed to a cabinet post. The ex-wife of Nelson Mandela is back in parliament after a fraud conviction.

The ANC won an election landslide on 22 April , keeping the dominance it has enjoyed since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Jacob Zuma made his way to the presidency despite facing trials for rape and corruption. All the charges were dropped.