Mabuza reshuffles cabinet

2013-02-18 16:47

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza has reshuffled his cabinet for the second time since he became premier in 2009.

Mabuza axed three MECs – Clifford Mkasi (health and social development), Siphosezwe Masango (human settlements) and Norman Mokoena (economic development and tourism).

The premier gave broad rather than specific reasons for the reshuffle.

“After thorough consideration of our work and achievements, and probably areas we think we were not pulling well, I decided to make changes to the cabinet to reinforce ourselves and strengthen areas where we need capacity,” Mabuza said.

“We assessed areas of weaknesses and it is in that spirit that we are re-organising ourselves. This is in the spirit of reinforcing our work rather than petty things,” he said.

The writing was on the wall for Masango after Mabuza dismantled human settlements’ top management last November because they had only managed to build about 3 000 RDP houses out of a target of about 10 000 in the last financial year.

The managers were, however, not disciplined for failing to perform but transferred to other departments.

Human settlements head of department David Dube’s contract was not renewed when it expired at the end of November because of the department’s failures, but he was then redeployed to be deputy chairperson of the portfolio committee of chairpersons in the Mpumalanga legislature.

Dube is also the ANC’s provincial deputy chairperson.

His appointment to the legislature caused an outcry because he is now expected to oversee the performance of departments, including human settlements.

Mabuza spent a week last month inspecting progress on RDP houses all over the province.

Mkasi’s axing was also expected. Although the health department had been experiencing challenges such as staff shortages for many years before Mkasi took over, Mabuza began focusing on the department following his re-election as provincial ANC chairperson in April last year.

Mkasi was expected to challenge him for the position but withdrew at the last minute. That did nothing to restore the peace.

Like he did with human settlements, Mabuza travelled throughout the province to check on the state of health institutions late last year.

Rumours about Mokoena’s dismissal have been circulating before Mabuza first reshuffled cabinet late in 2011. Mokoena survived that reshuffle and was transferred from cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) to economic development.

At that time, Mokoena had irregularly hired Abalozi Risk Advisory Services – which belonged to President Jacob Zuma’s parliamentary officer Siphiwe Nyanda – to investigate a spate of service delivery protests that engulfed the province.

Mokoena had authorised a R3.5-million irregular payment.

The new MECs are Andries Gamede (ANC provincial treasurer), Violet Siwela (deputy legislature speaker) and Simon Sikhosana (legislature member) who have now taken over the human settlements, agriculture and Cogta departments respectively.

Mabuza moved around the MECs he kept. Finance MEC Pinky Phosa will now take over economic development. Cogta MEC Madala Masuku will move to finance, while agriculture MEC Candith Mashego-Dlamini will now be responsible for health and social development.

Mpumalanga Democratic Alliance leader Anthony Benadie said Mabuza had “opted for the most loyal rather than strongest leaders”.

“While a cabinet reshuffle is the constitutional prerogative of the premier, it was once again a wasted opportunity for premier Mabuza to return strong leaders such as Jabu Mahlangu, Fish Mahlalela or Meshack Malinga (all legislature members) to the fold of cabinet, and accelerate government’s service delivery programme,” said Benadie.

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