I stand by my decision to reshuffle Northern Cape cabinet - premier

2017-05-12 11:02
Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas

Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas (Emile Hendricks/Foto24)

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Colesberg – Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas has defended her decision to reshuffle her Cabinet, despite widespread criticism from the ANC nationally, in the province and from alliance partners.

Lucas changed her executive on Wednesday, on the eve of the province’s elective conference.

"I stand by my decision to reshuffle because it is not taken emotionally or impulsively. I consulted all my MECs and I explained to them all the issues and...[it is] after that process that we did the reshuffle," Lucas told News24 on the sidelines of the conference.

The national ANC at Luthuli House, and in the province, accused her of not consulting them ahead of the major decision.

However Lucas said she was puzzled by the comments and referred News24 to a local Kimberley newspaper that she said quoted the party's provincial secretary Zamani Saul saying that they tried to stop her from making the changes in her executive.

"I spoke to the ANC officials. Let me put it like this, that in the DFA [Diamond Fields Advertiser] of 10th of May, the provincial secretary said they stopped me when I wanted to reshuffle – that is why I don’t understand that there is a notion that says I did not consult the ANC," Lucas said.

Luthuli House also issued a strongly-worded statement rebuking her.

Party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said the party noted with disbelief her decision to change her Cabinet and said it views the move as "flagrant abuse of her office to further divide the ANC and undermine the unity of the organisation".

'Unbridled arrogance'

"Her unbridled arrogance is a betrayal of trust with the ANC, the organisation that deployed her as premier," Kodwa said.

Lucas confirmed she did not consult with the party's secretary general Gwede Mantashe, but said she did speak to him. She however would not say if it was before or after her urgent reshuffle.

"I did not consult the secretary general but I spoke to him and I explained to him the situation," was all Lucas was prepared to say.

News24 understands she spoke to Mantashe after the reshuffle, when she was advised to do so.

Lucas still refused to provide the reasons why she reshuffled her cabinet.

"I think the media will have to wait and see if anything transpires from what actually informed the reshuffle, but it is definitely not personal and it is definitely not about the conference. That is all I am prepared to say," Lucas said.

She was facing a hostile reception at the conference with delegates continuously singing the song Ha a tsamaye, which means "He/She must go".

The SACP and Cosatu in the province also criticised her Cabinet reshuffle in her presence labelling it "selfish, insulting to the ANC and mischievous".

'Election conference not a competition'

She is contesting Saul for the position of chairperson. Despite the numbers of branch nominations favouring Saul, Lucas said she remained confident.

"This is an ANC election conference, it is not a competition – it is about leadership of the conference. So I am as confident as anyone can be," Lucas said.

She also downplayed the divisions in the province, saying they were not "permanent".

Branch members linked to her slate marched on Luthuli House on Tuesday again, attempting to postpone the conference, claiming that the audits were manipulated and those against Saul were excluded from elective conference.

"This is an elective conference where there is contestation, so ordinarily when people don’t share the same sentiments they will seem as if they are divided, but I don’t think this is permanent divisions because we have the same ideological perspective, it is just that we differ on preference for the leadership," Lucas said.

Some delegates want to push for a motion to remove her as premier after the elections, expected to get underway on Friday.

The conference is happening ahead of the ANC's national elective conference in December, with supporters in the province pitting Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa against former African Union commission chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Ramaphosa is expected to address the conference on Friday.

Read more on:    anc  |  sylvia lucas  |  kimberley  |  anc leadership race  |  politics

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