KZN’s new executive trio

2012-06-13 00:00

As the former KZN premier, Ndebele’s official residence was at Parkside next to Alexandra Park.

Hlengiwe Mkhize, who moved from being deputy minister of Higher Education to deputy Economic Development minister, hails from the Eshowe area.

Martins, who was the deputy minister of Public Enterprises, told The Witness last night he was aware that his new position was a major challenge, what with the massive transport infrastructure projects in the pipeline. However, he was certain that he could call on Ndebele at any time while learning the ropes of the new ministry. “We are friends, we get on well and have a long association, we were prisoners together on Robben Island,” he said.

A member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party (SACP), Martins believes his time in Public Enterprises and working with such entities as Transnet and Eskom prepared him for his new role. He said he would work as fast as possible to learn all about his new ministry. This will include reading reports, finding out about projects and generally getting acquainted with the entire set-up.

A published poet and artist, Martins has been a member of Parliament since the first democratic election in 1994. He worked at the Edendale Lay Centre and was a founder member of the DCO Matiwane Youth League. He was an Mkhonto weSizwe operative, arrested in 1983 and stood trial in 1984 with Sithabiso Mahlobo and Duma Gqubule. Martins was sentenced to 10 years’ for treason and terrorism. He has a Master of Law (LLM) degree in International Law from the University of Cape Town.

He has served as the deputy chairperson of the Robben Island Museum Council and on the executive committee of the Caversham Centre for writers and artists. Martins has published two poetry anthologies, Baptism of Fire and Prison Poems.

Close friends say he may have the soul of an artist but he has proven to be a competent and committed parliamentarian, who has been efficient as a deputy minister and in the different parliamentary committees that he served on over the years.

Ndebele was not available for comment yesterday. His spokesperson Logan Maistry said he was in London attending the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) meeting in London and would be back tomorrow. Maistry said Ndebele was aware of the cabinet changes.

Before becoming premier of KZN, Ndebele was MEC for Transport in the province and his department was described as one of the best run in the country. His move to the national ministry of Transport was welcomed. However of late Ndebele has been caught up in the recent controversial e-tolling saga and people who know him say he seems to have lost his earlier drive. They see his move to Correctional Services as a welcome change for him.

Mkhize said that she was sad to be leaving Higher Education, given its importance in the country and the work that has still to be done to transform the sector.

However, she was aware that economic development and education were two sides of the same coin. She said she was pleased to have the opportunity to work in Economic Development because of the poverty gap and gross inequality that remains in South African society. “We need to improve our economic development to be able to have resources to uplift our education,” Mkhize said.

Mkhize, whose family originally hails from the Nqutu area, joined Parliament in 2009. Previously she worked as a clinical psychologist and lectured at the University of Zululand. A long-time activist, her political roots began in the black consciousness movement.

She was a founder member and trustee of the Children and Violence Trust and served as treasurer general of the ANC Women’s League.

Mkhize also held the post of deputy minister of Correctional Services. Sources believe her move was because she and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande did not get on.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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