‘Only the NEC can fire me’ - Eastern Cape premier

2018-02-25 06:01
Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle

Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle

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Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle is prepared to step down, but only if the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) instructs him to.

Only the NEC had the authority to recall him, not “just anybody else”, he warned during an exclusive interview with City Press.

He sought to clarify issues regarding his position as premier amid calls and reports that the ANC’s provincial executive committee (PEC) could recall him.

Masualle is the former ANC chairperson of the province. He said he was willing to step down anytime the party asked him to.

Masualle is a member of the NEC. He was elected into the party’s highest decision-making body at its elective conference in December.

His detractors want him replaced by new ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyane. There was talk that Masualle might not even deliver his state of the province address after Mabuyane was sworn in as member of the legislature in Bhisho on Monday.

The Eastern Cape PEC had already announced it wanted to “reconfigure” the provincial cabinet. The PEC and the ANC’s top six were discussing the matter.

In what could be viewed as veiled criticism of the PEC’s pronouncement, Masualle said: “There are strategic decisions that are made at certain levels. The appointment of premiers, as is the case in this instance, or the firing of premiers, is exclusively the domain of the NEC. Provinces make recommendations.

“Provinces submit their inputs through the officials, the working committee and the NEC. Then the NEC takes the decision. Similarly, the firing of such incumbents is the domain of the NEC.

“That is the appropriate body,” he said.

He said the work he was doing was at the ANC’s behest.

“If at any time the ANC were to say ‘thank you, we think we need to change’, at that point I would never hesitate [to step down]. I know there are many other members of the ANC capable of doing even better than I have been doing.

“But I think the only mishap that creates all this, is when matters are not dealt with properly where they should be dealt with.”

Masualle said he was privileged to have served as premier and was grateful for the opportunity he had been given to serve.

Asked whether he recognised the Mabuyane-led PEC, Masualle said: “It’s not for me to decide. Basically, the ANC recognises that structure and so all the members of the ANC recognise that structure. So certainly, yes I do recognise it.”

He said he thought he had done fairly well as premier during his four-year tenure. Asked to give himself a mark out of 10, he said boldly: “Anything above seven.”

Masualle said he would like to be remembered for having harnessed the province’s agricultural potential, improving its infrastructure and reviving the economy.

“We have raised the bar significantly. We have lifted infrastructure servicing. If you look at road infrastructure in the province, it is significant for investment. There have been positive spinoffs, such as the potential for tourism and economic growth.”

He said they had worked hard to promote transformation in the local economy. They had achieved black participation among component suppliers in the automotive sector, which was the backbone of the province’s economy and the second-largest employer after the public sector.

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Mpumalanga’s government wants to help small and medium-sized enterprises and encourage young people to get involved in mining.

Delivering his state of the province address on Friday, premier David Mabuza announced an incubation programme for youth miners, local procurement for the government’s nutrition programme and R300 million to develop small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs).

Mabuza said the gloomy provincial unemployment rate, of 28.9% in the last quarter of 2017, did not warrant populist slogans.

“It’s a blemish we must confront, fight and defeat.”

Between 2016 and 2017, about 87 000 new jobs were created in the province: trade (35 000), agriculture (17 000), private households (14 000), finance (12 000) and mining (11 000).

Over the last few years, there had been concerns about the decline in the mining sector’s contribution to job creation as it was one of the biggest sectors in the province.

“We welcome the 2017 figures, which show a slight recovery,” he said.

YOUTH MINERS INCUBATION PROGRAMME

This initiative was intended to ensure more young people participated in mining and owned mining assets. Government and the mining industry would help young people get prospecting and mining rights, he said.

Government Nutrition Programme

This would be expanded to include procurement of both dry products and fresh produce for the province’s schools and hospitals. Mabuza said the programme was already benefiting 305 smallholder farmers, local bakeries and youth-owned transport enterprises.

SMMEs FUNDING

A total of R300 million had been set aside over the next three years to support SMMEs that had agreements with government. Mabuza said his government was implementing a social enterprise development model to empower small business to supply construction materials to government’s infrastructure projects. – Sizwe sama Yende

Former premiers, MECs and members of the North West legislature will be probed in an “initiative to fight greed, crime and corruption”, premier Supra Mahumapelo said on Friday.

The investigation would extend back to 1994 and he would cast the net wide to include his forerunners: National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise, Popo Molefe, Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa and ANC Youth League leader Collen Maine, who was an MEC in the province.

Mahumapelo is also provincial ANC chairperson. He announced the probe during his state of the province address on Friday. Mahumapelo was under pressure to rid the provincial administration of corruption and bring stability to the party. He said he was willing to undergo a lifestyle audit.

Matters requiring urgent investigation included “incomplete projects, shoddy work, particularly in the construction of some government buildings and roads”; “historical procurement anomalies” and health department issues including “security, ambulances, buildings, pharmaceuticals, hospital catering, medical waste and equipment”.

Mahumapelo said he had agreed with the current speaker to investigate legislature members’ travel claims as part of efforts to “confront greed, crime and corruption”.

“Government will offer any help required to speed up investigations and no officials in government will be permitted to delay or withhold any information required to assist the process.”

Mahumapelo said that since becoming premier in 2014, the province had reduced accruals from R1 billion to R750 million by the last financial year. Fruitless and wasteful expenditure had been reduced to R2 billion, from R10.7 billion four years ago.

The provision of houses, water and sanitation and the building of a stationery-making factory would be prioritised. – Poloko Tau

Limpopo premier Stan Mathabatha deserves a second term and will deliver the people of Limpopo to “Jerusalem” should he be re-elected, he promised on Friday.

Should he lose his job at the ANC’s provincial conference in April, the state of the province address he delivered that day would be his
last.

He called himself a Messiah who would emancipate the people of Limpopo.

“Let me borrow from another outstanding son of the soil, the former president of the ANC, Josiah Gumede when he said: ‘I have seen the new Jerusalem. I therefore implore you to join us as we march to this new Jerusalem.”

His is ANC provincial chairperson and those challenging him for the job include his predecessor Cassel Mathale, deputy chairperson Jerry Ndou and deputy provincial secretary Makoma Makhurupetje.

Makhurupetje is the only woman contesting for the post. She would allow the ANC Women’s League to determine if ANC members in the province were ready to have a woman lead them.

In his address, Mathabatha said his administration was heeding President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to fight corruption.

He said he deserved a second term because his administration had received an improved audit report from the Auditor-General.

Mathabatha bragged about his education department, led by MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe, after it received an unqualified audit opinion for the first time in 10 years.

“We are proud to report that both the provincial treasury and the Limpopo Gambling Board received clean audit opinions in the last audit cycle. We have closed the chapter of disclaimer audit opinions in the provincial administration,” he said. – Mpho Dube

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