Stan Mathabatha: This patient is ready to go home

2014-04-10 13:01

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The national intervention team of administrators may not have given Limpopo the all-clear but Premier Stan Mathabatha has likened it to a patient ready to leave hospital and go home.

While commending national intervention, which saw five departments being placed under administration in December 2011, Mathabatha seemed confident that the Limpopo government would cope on its own.

“Limpopo was like a patient in ICU. The administration came, the patient left ICU and where we are now, this patient is ready to go home,” he said, speaking at a TNA breakfast today.

A team of administrators, led by chief administrator Monde Tom, was sent in to rescue Limpopo from near collapse amid rampant corruption and maladministration, which left the provincial government with a deficit of R1.7 billion and unable to pay salaries.

More than two years later, Mathabatha and his Cabinet were generally in agreement with administrators that things had been turned around by the intervention, with the province reporting a positive cash position of R4.4 billion in January.

But Tom said earlier this year that his team might remain in Limpopo to enable it to leave sustainable measures as well as corruption-proof systems together with skilled and capable people to ensure effective output.

Cabinet has approved the extension of the administrators’ mandate until after the May 7 elections. When the new Cabinet is ushered in, there will be a review and a decision is likely to then be made for the administrators to leave Limpopo.

It is, however, known in the province that if they had their way, Mathabatha and his Cabinet would rather have the administrators leave the province immediately. It is understood that some MECs were not happy with the way the administrators were running matters. Unsettled debts and payments of claims, as well as millions due to service providers, were cited as sticking points.

Mathabatha said earlier today at the breakfast briefing themed around the celebration of 20 years of democracy that “Limpopo was a better place than it was 20 years ago”. Among others, he cited 86% of electrification as well as milestones in addressing water shortages.

In his talk, the premier laid the blame on the previous regime, led by former Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale.

“There were mistakes that were committed and the reason for me to be here is that I was called [from Ukraine where he was ambassador] to intervene because of the mistakes,” he said.

When asked about the Cabinet reshuffle – one of the first things he did when he assumed office about eight months ago – which left only two MECs from the previous regime, Mathabatha said: “I did not fire or purge anyone. When elected as premier, it means you must come with your own team.”

Meanwhile, finance MEC Rudolph Phala said billions were saved by the province after service-provider contracts were stopped and reviewed before any money was paid out to them.

“Service providers and non-service providers were paid every day in this province and some for work not done. We came and stopped all payments to verify [this] and those who had not been paid would be due to investigations into the shenanigans that led to their appointments,” he said.

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