'I'm now a real MEC' – new North West health MEC who previously served under Mahumapelo

2018-12-07 15:15
Madoda Sambatha.

Madoda Sambatha. (Rapula Mancai)

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Madoda Sambatha, the SACP's regional secretary in the North West, has been given another chance to serve the province's people.

His name was among the new appointments made by Premier Job Mokgoro on Thursday, following a resolution by the ANC's provincial task team at its meeting on Monday to allow Mokgoro to assess his executive and to reshuffle his cabinet if necessary.

"I am fully an executive committee member and not a person paid as an executive who can't make decisions," Sambatha said to News24, a day after his appointment as health MEC.

He previously served as the MEC for public works in the North West and was axed by then premier Supra Mahumapelo in relation to the illegal sale of government land in Mahikeng. However, some believed it was actually over internal ANC battles in the lead-up to the party's December 2017 national elective conference.

Mahumapelo and Sambatha supported different leaders in the ANC, with the former throwing his weight behind former African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the latter defiantly declaring his support for Cyril Ramaphosa, who went on to win the fiercely contested battle weeks before becoming South Africa's president.

"I was never an MEC, I was appointed and paid as an MEC but in most instances, even officials within the department were used against me," claimed Sambatha.

Changes

Mokgoro axed four MECs – Magome Masike, who served at health, Manketse Tlhape who oversaw the department of rural, environment and agricultural development, Mmule Maluleke (who had replaced Sambatha at public works) and Hoffman Galeng who was the social development MEC. 

He retained Ontlametse Mochware as MEC for culture, arts and traditional affairs, Mpho Motlhabane as MEC for community safety and transport management, Sello Lehari as MEC of education and sport development. 

Maphefo Matsemela was appointed as the new MEC for finance, economy and enterprise development. She replaces Wendy Nelson who has moved to the department of tourism. 

Motlalepula Rosho has been appointed the new MEC for local government and human settlements and Oageng Molapisi is now the MEC for public works and roads.

Desbo Mohono has been moved from the tourism to the rural, environment and agricultural development department. Fenny Gaolaolwe has been moved to the department of social development from local government and human settlements.

Mokgoro took over from Mahumapelo, who announced his "early retirement" in May, following violent protests and mounting calls for him to step down.

The province, which was put under administration by President Ramaphosa, had a collapsed health system, with members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union at hospitals embarking on a go-slow for several months and medicine shortages affecting most clinics. The province was also hit by numerous corruption claims, including the Gupta-linked Mediosa mobile health clinics scandal.

Restoring the health department

Sambatha shared his vision for the health department in the platinum-rich province.

"My interest is in turning around health in the North West, taking it back to where it used to be, remember, nationally, North West health used to be number two after Western Cape," he said.

He said beyond financial interventions there was a need to look at the attitude of staffers, response times and the cleanliness of clinics and hospitals.

Sambatha, who at no point mentioned Mahumapelo's name, said there was a transition and political power was shifting in the North West following a decision by the ANC's national executive committee (NEC) to dissolve the provincial executive committee, explaining that because of this, he was not surprised that those who once had power were suddenly claiming to be "victims".

"What has to be dealt with whenever there is a claim of a purge is whether the purge is real, or whether it's being used as a basis to blackmail those that are in power. Because we have a new phenomenon in the ANC where even the NEC is blackmailed, Ramaphosa is blackmailed," said Sambatha.

"Everyone who has a problem says, 'No I can't be dealt with in this manner'. Yet on our side it was that anyone who stood up and said there is corruption here or we think Ramaphosa must be a president we were chopped," he continued.

Defending the current leadership against claims of a purge, he said Mokgoro had an inclusive executive.

However, he warned the provincial task team against "wielding the axe" against members due to political differences.

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