Naledi Pandor presents a peculiar case. She is more than two years into her fourth cabinet outing in a post that is not a natural fit. Pandor has kept a low profile — lower than the job demands — and it was interesting to see her step up to denounce South Africa’s return to the international red list in late November after a new Covid-19 variant was detected.
Pandor has remained silent on issues of great power competition, which includes China vs the US, China vs India, Russian vs the US and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East; plus, closer to home, the civil war in Ethiopia.
It might be the legacy of years of dysfunction in the department that sees Pretoria going for stretches on end without briefings from embassies in the affected regions. Instead, the department has become embroiled in financial scandals and poor accounting practices, which included a dubious land deal in the US. Pandor fired both the department’s director general and chief financial officer over the New York property fiasco.
In the meantime, diplomats in Pretoria have not let up their lament that it is hard to interest a local functionary in a casual coffee date. Why, minister, when they too have limited resources but lots of goodwill? Pandor gets a C for failing to capitalise on Zuma’s departure to redeem South Africa on the international stage.
|Take a bow. You are doing an excellent job.|
|Good, but room for improvement.|
|Get your act together.|
|Do yourself and the country a favour - resign.|
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Selected Class of 2021