New premier vows to crack whip over graft

2010-11-21 09:16

Newly appointed North West Premier Thandi Modise has vowed to crack the whip in a province crippled by factionalism, malfunctioning municipalities and corruption.

The ANC deputy secretary-general has taken over from Maureen Modiselle, who was fired by the ruling party earlier this week. Modiselle has also resigned as a member of the provincial legislature (MPL) while President Jacob Zuma works on her redeployment.

Modise warned that she would “deal harshly” with corruption in her administration.

“It is time for unpopular decisions,” she said after being sworn in on Friday.

The premier told MPLs that they would have to attend all legislature sessions and answer all questions posed to them by opposition parties. She reminded them that they were servants of the public, who had “every right to demand” quality services and service delivery.

She is expected to announce a provincial cabinet reshuffle in the next few weeks. “My head is on the block,” she said.

The premier has identified as a priority the problem of water scarcity in the province. “We will endeavour to find water resources. We must learn to conserve water,” she said.

She added that the state of roads in the province needed urgent attention.

Addressing the media on Friday, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete said they had decided to deploy one of the top six officials to the “very difficult province”. She said Modise would continue to work as the party’s deputy secretary-general on a part-time basis, even though the ANC constitution stipulates that the position is full-time.

Mbete said ANC leaders agreed that Modise would retain her position because she was elected by the party’s highest decision-making structure, the elective conference, in Polokwane in 2007.

City Press asked her if she would resign from companies she is involved in, to focus on the business of creating an effective and efficient provincial government. She said she would declare her business interests.

Modise is listed as a director of E-Five Telecommunications and its subsidiary, E-Five Transport and Logistics.
 E-Five Telecommunications is described as an emerging undersea cable operator. The holding company is involved in a R2.9-billion cable system project to connect Africa’s west coast with South America.

“I have nothing to hide. E-Five is into undersea fibre-optics. There is no sea in North West,” she said.

ANC allies the Congress of SA Trade Unions and the SA Communist Party, as well as the opposition, hailed Modise’s deployment. They said Modiselle’s axing was long overdue.

Cosatu provincial secretary Solly Phetoe said: “We urge the new premier to investigate the allegations of corruption of her predecessors. This must include the office of the premier and part of the investigation must include the R8 million paid to the investigators, who have never produced a report.”

The alliance partners accused Modiselle of being in cahoots with the provincial task team (PTT) in a so-called 2012 project to ostracise and victimise communists.

But PTT co-ordinator Saki Mofokeng hit back, saying that the interim structure never controlled the provincial government. “It is a theory people invented on the streets,” he said.

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