New Northern Cape premier Zamani Saul a breath of fresh air to political sceptics

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 Zamani Saul
Zamani Saul
Christiaan Cloete

Back in 1999, newly appointed Mpumalanga premier Ndaweni Mahlangu said it was “acceptable for politicians to lie”.

I have always taken what politicians say with a pinch of salt.

I interrogate what they say to find out why they are saying it.

After all, we see them mingle with ordinary citizens while on the campaign trail seeking votes, only to suddenly need bodyguards once they are in office.

It is the story we have read many times, and it repeats itself when the elections come around every five years.

With all the swearing-in that happened across the country, it was Zamani Saul, newly appointed premier of the Northern Cape, who served as a reminder of Mahlangu’s words.

Saul said all the right things that the electorate wants to hear from politicians post the ballot.

He began by saying the province, which is poor, would not fork out funds for new cars – normally expensive SUVs – for himself and the nine MECs.

“We cannot, as elected leaders, continue to indulge in luxury sedans and SUVs while our sickly people are struggling to access ambulances. Our work as this sixth administration will be uncompromisingly people-centred and we are going to cut the extra fat to the bone.”

Did I hear right?

He wasn’t done: “We are not here for blue lights and self-indulgence. All MECs … must understand that the opportunity to serve our people is an absolute honour and not a stepladder to riches and fame.”

Is he for real?

On Talk Radio 702, Saul continued: “No pictures of me or any of the MECs will be mounted on walls of government departments … Our task is to serve and not to be glorified.”

Saul added that he would have an office in the provincial health department and another one at the casualty section of Robert [Mangaliso] Sobukwe Hospital, “as it cannot be that people go to the hospital and sit there for hours and are not attended to.

I cannot be confined to the premier’s office when there are such challenges that departments face.”

By this time, I couldn’t help but ask if Saul was pulling a Mahlangu on the people of the Northern Cape and the country.

I hope not. I hope he was telling the truth and will do as promised. I wish him luck to do good for the people in the province.

The country needs more selfless leaders who prioritise the need of poor citizens above their own.

Politics has been used mostly as a ladder for people to access wealth through dishing out tenders to cronies, and Saul’s mission – like others across the country – is a welcome breath of fresh air.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
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