Axing of MEC who investigated Malema’s cousin questioned

2012-03-14 14:10

Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale’s axing of his health MEC has raised eyebrows.

Health MEC Dikeledi Magadzi is seen as part of a faction that supports President Jacob Zuma and who has fallen out of favour with Mathale and the ANC’s provincial executive committee in Limpopo after the ruling party expelled youth league leader Julius Malema from the party for sowing divisions and bringing it into disrepute.

She last year also launched an internal investigation into how Tshepo Malema, a cousin of Malema, bagged a R44-million pharmaceuticals tender.

A senior government source told City Press that Magadzi was able to “stand up and say ‘no’ when things go wrong”.

Although the health department is one of those put under administration by Cabinet, the source said Magadzi was a hard worker who was on the verge of turning things around.

The Democratic Alliance’s Desiree van der Walt also condemned Magadzi’s removal.

“It’s a concern for us, because we know her for her dedication and hard work. We hope that our people will continue to have the benefit of services in whatever new role she will be given.”

The MECs of treasury, education, and public works, David Masondo, Dickson Masemola and Thabitha Mohlala, were not affected by the reshuffle, despite the fact that their departments had also been placed under administration in January for, among others, poor financial administration.

The axing of Safety and Security MEC George Phadagi, said the source, was not a surprise as he is close to the MK Military Veterans Association, which is opposed to Mathale’s administration.

The MKVA in Limpopo is among a handful of groups which have been protesting, calling for the ANC to axe Mathale because of corruption in the province.

Although the DA welcomed the removal of Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Joyce Mashamba, the source said she was chopped for being a “principled person”.

Said the source: “Our worry is that the way it was done is that it doesn’t recognise the challenges we have in the province. We need people who are clued up on how to provide leadership and how to run the public service.

“How do you explain the fact that almost all the MECs whose departments are under administration are still there?”

Another source – also a senior government official – said the reshuffle had nothing to do with service delivery. “It’s Mathale consolidating and centralising power. All those people are very close to him.”

He pointed to the inclusion of Florence Dzhombere in Mathale’s executive as an example of how the premier was trying to tighten the grip on power. Dzhombere was elected deputy secretary of the ANC in Limpopo in December.

ANC secretary in the province Soviet Lekganyane dismissed suggestions that the reshuffle was aimed at purging Magadzi and others who have fallen out of favour with the provincial executive committee.

“There is nothing sinister and nothing factional. We appreciate what Magadzi has done for the people of the province, but tell me why is it wrong when we appoint a medical doctor (Norman Mabasa) to a health portfolio? We did the reshuffle in good faith as the leadership of the province.”

He said they were following in the footsteps of Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, which have appointed medical doctors as MECs after realising that the portfolio needed people with highly specialised skills.

“He (Mabasa) comes with a big reputation. People should not divert attention from the real issues. We have been trying to fix the department for many years.”

The ANC, he said, has the best interest of the province at heart. “There is nothing political about the reshuffling of any portfolio.”

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