KZN government: 'Expect surprises' in cabinet

2009-05-04 00:00

The ANC leadership in KwaZulu-Natal was alleged to be in talks yesterday on the composition of the new provincial cabinet to be led by Zweli Mkhize, and sources have warned that surprises in the formation of the cabinet should be expected.

Mkhize will be officially elected as premier tomorrow after the members of the provincial legislature have been sworn in.

The ANC won an outright majority and will have 51 seats out of 80.

According to party sources, some MECs will be retained and some shifted to other cabinet portfolios, while others will have to make way for new blood.

Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Bheki Cele is favoured to be retained in the same portfolio.

Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, whose department came under fire for overspending by more than R1 billion recently, and Social Development MEC Meshack Radebe, whose department was heavily criticised for the distribution of food vouchers in the lead-up to the elections, are rumoured to be facing moves to other portfolios. Sources say Mkhize will have to appoint someone with the capacity to emulate what he achieved as Health MEC.

The outgoing speaker of the provincial legislature, Willies Mchunu, who is also the deputy chairman of the ANC, might take up the Local Government, Housing and Traditional Affairs portfolio. The incumbent MEC,, Mike Mabuyakhulu, has been tipped to be moved to the Finance and Economic Development portfolio, which he previously held, said sources.

Mchunu, added the sources, might be replaced by either the South African Local Government Association (Salga) CEO, Makhosi Khoza, or Nomusa Dube, who is the former speaker in the eThekwini Municipality and former South African ambassador to the Czech Republic.

ANC provincial secretary and chairman of the education portfolio committee in the legislature, Senzo Mchunu, and the former ANC chief whip in the legislature, Cyril Xaba, are also tipped for cabinet posts.

Education MEC Ina Cronjé might be retained in her current portfolio, but sources say she has stiff competition from Senzo Mchunu.

Agriculture and Environmental Affairs MEC Mtholephi Mthimkhulu’s fate is unclear. According to the sources, Mthimkhulu did well given that he inherited a department in a mess.

One source said the composition of the provincial legislature is likely to include an Indian “comrade” as the Indian vote is crucial, especially in the run-up to the local government elections in just over 20 months.

Sources who speculated on who would occupy the cabinet portfolios agreed that Minority Front leader Amichand Rajbansi, who was Sport and Recreation MEC, will not be getting a cabinet position, because the ANC no longer needs his party’s support.

“Whatever happens in the choosing of the MECs, expect surprises,” added one source.

thandom@witness.co.za

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