New KZN Premier Willies Mchunu vows to improve service delivery

2016-05-26 11:55
Willies Mchunu after being sworn in as the new premier of KwaZulu-Natal in the Legislature.

Willies Mchunu after being sworn in as the new premier of KwaZulu-Natal in the Legislature. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - After a dramatic week of political turmoil in the province, ANC provincial deputy chairperson Willies Mchunu was sworn in as the KwaZulu-Natal premier at a special sitting of the provincial legislature on Wednesday.

Mchunu was elected unopposed to take over from former premier Senzo Mchunu, who succumbed to pressure and resigned on Monday after being given his marching orders by the ANC’s provincial executive committee.

Willies Mchunu was welcomed into office with a round of enthusiastic clapping as chants of “ANC, ANC!” echoed around the hall, much to the delight of the new premier, who sat beaming.

Mchunu accepted his new position, saying it was with “great honour and humility” that he had been sworn in.

“I want to thank the members for voting for me and although I was expecting to be challenged, I thank my brother that I was not,” he said.

Mchunu said he intended to improve “the pace” of service delivery and assured the people of KZN that the province was in a “stable” condition.

“It is extensively immersed with a number of socio-economic developmental initiatives in line with our national and provincial priorities of job creation, skills, health, fighting crime and rural development.”

Willies said he was asked to step in as acting premier by the ANC following Senzo Mchunu’s resignation.

Calling Senzo Mchunu “my brother and comrade”, he thanked the former premier “for his role and contribution in changing lives”.

However, when asked if he had had any contact with Senzo in the last 24 hours, Mchunu said he had not been guaranteed his new appointment and had not needed advice from the former premier.

“Now I will call him if it is necessary as he is the former premier. Once I have been briefed, I will call him if I need anything clarified.”

Mchunu replied to rumours of a cabinet reshuffle stating that it would be “abnormal” of him to reshuffle the cabinet just as he was sworn in.

“I still need to meet departments and look at programmes and align my thinking before I am able to say if change is needed.”

ANC PEC member and spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli was also sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature.

He takes the seat previously occupied by the late ANC chief whip Senzo Mkhize, who died last month.

BORN in May 1948 in Ladysmith, Mchunu grew up in Chesterville, Durban.

He was a unionist in the 1970s, part of the ANC underground structures in the 1980s, and played various roles in leadership in the province, including being part of the peace talks between the ANC and IFP.

He was the first co-ordinator of the joint working committee of the UDF and Cosatu in pursuit of peace with the IFP (1988); served as chairperson of the ANC Northern Natal Region (1990); deputy speaker of the Legislature in KZN (1994); ANC provincial executive committee member (1995); SACP provincial chairperson (1998); executive member of the provincial SA National Civic Organisation; and Speaker of the KZN Legislature (2004).

He is also a member of the SACP’s central committee, the Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC; chairperson of the parliamentary executive board; and chairperson of the rules committee.

KwaZulu-Natal DA leader Sizwe Mchunu congratulated the new premier, but added that they had been “very critical” of Willies Mchunu as Transport MEC.

He said they hoped to see a change now that he had been sworn in as premier.

IFP deputy national spokesperson Joshua Mazibuko congratulated the new premier, but said they had had difficulties working with him due to the difference between the ANC and IFP mandates.

“We will give him respect for this mammoth task ahead and believe that he can shoulder this. However, we should remember the days when KZN was run by a stable IFP.”

EFF MPL Vusi Khoza said they had predicted the end of Senzo Mchunu’s reign and now predicted the “chopping and changing” of the cabinet.

“Only history can judge you and we hope your appointment is correct and impartial,” he said.

ANC provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala said the ANC knew “right from the beginning” that Mchunu would take his appointment as a responsibility rather than a position.

“His leadership is steeped in the principle of inclusivity, which truly negates political, racial, gender and religious divides,” he said.

Read more on:    anc  |  willies mchunu  |  pietermaritzburg

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