Cronjé mum on why she called it quits

2014-05-28 00:00

A DAY after she stepped down as an ANC public representative, former KZN Finance MEC Ina Cronjé was not prepared to spill the beans on why she decided to call it quits.

Instead Cronjé spoke fondly of her 20-year tenure in the KZN legislature and as MEC and hinted at her possible return to the legal profession.

Cronjé dropped her bombshell on Monday night, hours after she was axed from the cabinet when Premier Senzo Mchunu named former finance and standing committee on public accounts chairperson Belinda Scott as her replacement.

Contacted yesterday by The Witness, Cronjé would not be persuaded to comment on her resignation, but reflected on her career.

“I look back over that time as being interesting and exciting, especially when I was the chief whip and close to the leadership where decisions were made, a lot,” she said.

Recalling her early days in the legislature, when the IFP was in control, Cronjé said the ANC managed to push through certain decisions. “One of those was to move the legislature from Ulundi to Pietermaritzburg while we were a minority party.”

At that time she said MPLs had to break new ground on many issues. “It taught us a lot. As a lawyer it helped me to translate the legal background into politics,” she said, adding that new legislation was also formulated, and transformation pursued.

Cronjé said that while, as public representatives in the legislature’s early days, they fought fiercely during the house sittings, they mingled together freely during lunch breaks. “We made good friends across the political divide.”

She also said her tenure as the first ANC Education MEC, when the party took control of KZN, provided a new environment to contend with. “Slowly we transformed it and the people who were hostile began to trust us.”

Cronjé recalled having to travel the length and breadth of the province visiting 6 000 schools. “I was determined to visit as many schools as possible to see the conditions. It was rewarding. It was at a time of policy changes,

“It was an important journey in my life because it brought me back to where I started as a teacher.”

Her greatest achievement in the Education Department was to make it work as a single unit, she said.

“We achieved a state of common purpose and officials were able to work as team.”

Recalling her tenure in the Provincial Treasury, Cronjé said she took over when the province was in the red and cost-cutting measures had to be introduced.

“We brought in stability. We made sure we were cash positive and able to pay our bills and salaries.”

She said the highlight was when the department obtained clean audit from the auditor-general four times in a row.

“This was due to sound financial management,” she said, adding that the cost-cutting measures had made her unpopular, but that constant monitoring finally paid off.

Cronjé said she would take it one step at a time regarding her future plans.

“I cut my legal career short and I have always had a yearning to go back. If possible, I would like to do some legal work and pick up the threads of my career.”

ANC spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said Cronjé had resigned as a public representative after consultation with the ANC leadership. “Since she was in the legislature since 1994, the ANC felt that it must give her another position because of her skills and capabilities. She will be redeployed to take up another task and duties,” Mkhize said.

He also said Cronjé would still remain a member of the ANC provincial executive committee and provincial working committee.

• mayibongwe.maqhina

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