Des van Rooyen has not been able to shed the dubious label of being President Jacob Zuma’s political lackey and one of the key players in state capture.
“Weekend Special”, a nickname he was given after his controversial appointment as minister of finance in 2016, lasted for only a weekend after it was overturned owing to negative reaction from the markets, has been at the centre of a storm about his department’s links to Gupta-linked company Trillian.
He spent most of the year fighting a battle to stay away from the parliamentary portfolio committee following complaints by the DA.
Van Rooyen was cited in #Guptaleaks as having given Trillian work from his department shortly after his appointment last year. He also scored a political own goal that entrenched his label as a Zuma stooge when he fought and abandoned a legal battle to stop the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
In his budget vote speech Van Rooyen alluded to a few achievements, which include his department’s support for 40 dysfunctional municipalities “in creating effective community engagement mechanisms and the establishment of 4 067 ward committees”.
His department also helped to train 23 483 participants in the Community Work Programme, which has thus far created a reported 243 162 work opportunities.
The department also oversaw the passage through the National Assembly of the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill, which seeks to recognise Khoisan leadership structures and communities previously not addressed in law.
However, despite efforts to stem the tide of illegal initiation schools, the department appears unable to deal decisively with the scourge that continues to lead to the deaths of initiates. Even after the deaths of hundreds of initiates, the department is still finalising the legal framework to fight the problem with the Customary Initiation Bill.
The department and its entities fared well in the auditor general’s report for 2017. The department of traditional affairs and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural and Religious and Linguistic Communities both achieved clean audits.
The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent and the Municipal Demarcation Board also achieved clean audits. But co-operative governance received a qualified audit opinion.
Perhaps Van Rooyen has what it takes if given a chance. But the trust issues created by his association with the Guptas and the perception that he is a stooge ready to be used to plunder state coffers continues to hang over his head.