Reshuffle on the cards for Northern Cape Cabinet

2016-02-17 16:33

Kimberley – Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas was expected to use her State of the Province Address on Thursday to reshuffle her Cabinet.

Her Cabinet has two vacancies following the death of Education MEC Grizelda Cjiekella-Lecholo last year and the resignation of Finance and Economic Development MEC John Block, who resigned after being convicted of corruption and money laundering. 

Both vacancies have existed for months, with ANC insiders saying "delicate" behind-the-scenes negotiations were being conducted with the various regions to get behind the new MECs expected to be announced tomorrow.

It’s not clear if she’ll confine the reshuffle to the two vacant positions or make wider changes.

The reshuffle will be Lucas’ easy task for the day – she’ll have to map government’s way forward during a time of persistent drought and economic woes. Mining - one of the province’s biggest contributors to the GDP - is shedding jobs and her speech will be keenly watched to see how she plans to cushion the blow.

Kumba recently announced it would shed 4 000 jobs due to increasing operating costs and lower iron ore prices. 

At the provincial ANC lekgotla last week – which provides the basis for the provincial government’s programme of action, and influences the SOPA - acting chair Kenny Mmoeimang said government had an obligation to mitigate the effects the retrenchments would have on the province's people. 

"The area that has the potential to cushion these job losses is the government sector through ensuring that indeed vacancies that are funded, must be filled. Obviously, through the internship programmes that we are able to absorb fresh graduates from Universities and Colleges," he said at the time.

The provincial ANC further announced it would create a thousand projects worth R2.2bn to create and save jobs.

The DA was sceptical, however, reminding the premier in a statement of the promised 18 000 jobs she had promised in last year’s SOPA. Figures suggested the province actually shed 24 000 jobs in the first two quarters of last year.

"We do not want to hear sweetheart promises about services which are never delivered. We want to hear practical plans of action which will actually be implemented by the provincial government," Andrew Louw, Northern Cape DA leader, said.

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