By the end of today, the ANC in Gauteng will know which member of the provincial legislature (MPL) will hand in their resignation to ensure that newly appointed Economic Development MEC Parks Tau is sworn in.
The need for a resignation to pave the way for Tau to join the executive has become a bone of contention among the provincial executive committee members, some of whom wanted Premier David Makhura to pick an existing MPL for the MEC position.
However, Makhura selected Tau as the steady hand needed at the economic development department, which is currently believed to be underperforming.
“We aren’t putting people under pressure. We’re giving them until Sunday, because people are making considerations. We hope one of them is able to see that it isn’t about us – it’s about the people of Gauteng,” said ANC provincial executive committee secretary Jacob Khawe about those who had been approached to make way.
Khawe also emphasised that Tau was in a better position to handle the portfolio.
“Every member who’s an MPL is suitable to be an MEC, including Parks himself. We were looking for someone in the economy who has a profile for investment. We’re not undermining those who’re in the legislature, but we were looking at the benefits Tau would bring,” he said.
Gauteng ANC MPL Thulani Ndlovu is among those who have been asked to consider resigning, but the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in the province has encouraged him to refuse.
Even before Makhura announced on Wednesday morning that Tau would be joining the legislature, the youth league in Gauteng had issued a statement saying that young individuals in it should not be turned into sacrificial lambs or gate-openers for the “recycling of elders”, or – worse still – “individuals who presided over the loss of the economic hub of the province”.
“The ANCYL will therefore not sit in silence as the eldership tries to reverse our collective gains by turning its members into ‘John Vuligate’ for elders,” reads the statement.
In a further conversation with City Press, Gauteng ANCYL leader Nkosana Mtolo said he was not discrediting Tau’s wealth of experience, but felt that there were other qualified individuals who could have been appointed.
However, Khawe dismissed these claims and explained that the legislature was not specifically expecting a youth league member to resign. He explained that three candidates had been approached, and whichever one of those agreed to resign would be redeployed to another portfolio.
“We approached three people and the ANCYL didn’t even know that – they only knew about comrade Thulani [Ndlovu], who’s a provincial executive committee member,” said Khawe.
He pointed out that Ndlovu did not really form part of the youth league because he was in his early forties, while Tau would soon be turning 50.
The criterion used to decide which MPL will step down, according to Khawe, is whether he or she is qualified enough to occupy another portfolio.
Khawe said this procedure was in no way unusual and had occurred while the current treasurer-general of the ANC, Paul Mashatile, was the premier of Gauteng. It had also occurred again last year, when Kgosientso Ramokgopa was dropped from the provincial cabinet.
“I wrote the secretary and chairperson of the ANCYL a short message asking why they would issue a statement instead of asking for a meeting, so that we could clarify that we were making considerations and no one was being forced to resign,” Khawe said.
“We weren’t targeting the youth league. We were looking at which role the person we take will play in government or the ANC, but the ANCYL was too fast [in making assumptions].”
On Wednesday, Makhura made three changes to his cabinet as he filled the vacancy in the provincial health department that was previously led by Bandile Masuku.
Nomathemba Mokgethi moves from social development and has been appointed as the new health MEC.
Tau is the new MEC for economic development, while Morakane Mosupyoe, who previously held the position of MEC for economic development, has been moved to the social development portfolio.