'You can’t repair corruption without casualties' – Limpopo premier

2017-01-21 21:09
Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha. (Marietie Louw-Carstens, Netwerk24)

Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha. (Marietie Louw-Carstens, Netwerk24)

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Polokwane – Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha has hit back at his detractors saying they want him out because he is closing the "corruption taps".

Mathabatha has faced increased calls for him to step down, the most vocal from the province’s youth league who accused him of failing to lead the province.

The youth league also said he failed to implement unemployment programmes for the youth and entrepreneurs.

"When you repair the corruption which was the order of the day before we came here, you are going to create enemies among some people, even those who used to be your friends," Mathabatha said in an interview with News24.

He claims the campaign to oust him was coming from former MECs whom he did not retain in his administration.

Mathabatha, who was seen as a compromise candidate, was brought in in July 2013 to stabilise the deeply divided province that saw its executive disbanded in 2011, and put under administration following financial woes.

He went on to win the ANC provincial chair position in 2014.

"You can’t clean up a system, clean up an administration and not have casualties. Sometimes you may even be the casualty yourself," Mathabatha said.

Stop-gap measure

He suggested he was ready for the battle amid talk that provincial leaders are engaging the ANC national structures to oust him.

A national ANC leader told News24 that Mathabatha was a stop-gap measure, but had not lived up to expectations.

Mathabatha believes his detractors won’t win the battle in the National Executive Committee as it was still bruised from the decision to remove former KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu.

"It was not easy to take the decision to remove the premier of KZN. It was one of the most painful and difficult decisions that that NEC has ever taken. I doubt it will have that kind of stamina to repeat that thing again, more especially where there is no basis."

However, the youth league remains determined and said it would support calls for Mathabatha to go. Spokesperson Matome Moremi said he was shocked that Mathabatha linked their calls to corruption.

"Asking for developmental projects for young people is corruption? I am shocked. I don’t want to say he is lying but he lives on another planet," Moremi told News24.

He said they wanted every department to have learnerships to aid students from TVET colleges which had been in place under previous premiers and at other provinces.

Moremi said there used to be money ring-fenced to support companies owned by young people.

Despite pressure for him to go, Mathabatha is confident of even a second term despite a strong push from within the ANC for other provincial executive members to take over, when the province goes to an elective conference in 2018.

"If I have to be a sacrificial lamb for clean governance, I am prepared to take that knock, but we will have clean governance for as long as we are still there with the kind of team that I have assembled in the executive."

Conflict to blame

Some of the challenges Mathabatha has had to face since coming into power include tensions in Vuwani, a drop in the province’s matric pass rate and a failure to deliver textbooks and stationery.

"There will be consequences. We must take action against individuals so that this matter doesn’t repeat itself," he said of the stationery shortage that has caused a series of hiccups for schools in his province at the start of the 2017 academic year.

He said although he had to wait for a report into the incident, he believed it was due to the shortcomings of individuals at the Department of Education.

The Limpopo premier blamed the conflict in Vuwani for the drop in the matric results, saying the region’s 4% decline affected the province’s overall performance.

Since the start of the year, two schools have been torched in the province.

In 2016, more than 20 schools burnt down in Vuwani in violent protests against incorporation into a new municipality.

Mathabatha said the province was working towards permanently resolving the situation.

"Sending the army and the police won’t help. We are on top of the situation. We are talking to the community, including traditional leaders."

Read more on:    polokwane  |  corruption  |  politics

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