The renowned administrator focuses on province’s achievements, improved stability as he insists on the legitimacy of his tenure
Job Mokgoro was seen as a new broom when he was appointed North West premier and immediately the spotlight was on him to see if he would clean up – and now, about 18 months later, he thinks he did.
He said that, despite his own office and other departments being under administration, “we’re gradually showing relative stability in the province”.
Mokgoro said this following his state of the province address (Sopa) delivered in Mahikeng on Friday.
This was after the opposition, the EFF and the DA, constantly raised points of order during the proceedings, questioning his legitimacy to deliver the address when his departments were under administration.
Speaker Susan Dantjie would, however, not have any of Mokgoro’s address being disrupted by points of order and later ordered two EFF members out of the chamber.
This was followed by the DA and the rest of the EFF members of the provincial legislature walking out.
EFF members later engaged in a scuffle with security officials outside.
When he finally got to address the house, with only ANC and two Freedom Front Plus members left, Mokgoro spoke of some of the successes registered since he took the reins in 2018 following the removal of his predecessor, Supra Mahumapelo.
The latter was removed amid allegations of corruption and maladministration on his watch at the expense of service delivery, which led to widespread violent protests.
A renowned administrator, Mokgoro inherited a worryingly unstable government.
This resulted in him reshuffling his cabinet as he embarked on a journey to rebuild the provincial administration.
From the matric results where North West obtained position three nationally to the “successful hosting” of the T20 under-19 cricket World Cup in Tlokwe among others, Mokgoro spoke about these “and many more achievements in our province” telling a story of “a province on the move”, determined to make a decisive break from an immediate history of instability.
“The people of our province remind us every day of the painful scenes of instability that characterised our province before June 2018. That is a constant reminder of how close we have come from the precipice.”
Mokgoro added that the province was “on the mend”, and made an appeal for everybody to “redouble efforts to permanently confine the North West of 2018 to the past, never to be revisited”.
‘BLEEDING OF FISCUS REDUCED’
In his first, as well as his second Sopa last year, Mokgoro said there were “criminal investigations emanating from alleged theft, corruption and the contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Activities Act of 2004”.
He said then that the “Hawks were investigating 46 cases in the North West provincial government and that the Special Investigations Unit was dealing with 44 cases”.
The premier further said contracts found to have been irregular, including those that made news headlines like Mediosa in health and Nepo Data Dynamics in the premier’s office, were terminated, adding that the “bleeding of the provincial fiscus has been substantially reduced” as a result.
He also said in June last year’s Sopa that 31 forensic investigations were under way, with 21 of them relating to provincial departments and 10 to municipalities.
STILL A HOT POTATO
After two attempts by City Press to get Mokgoro to explain his involvement in the controversial donation of game worth about R100 million to some politically connected individuals in 2015, which did not succeed, the question was posed to him in person at a post-Sopa press conference on Friday.
The Premier appeared ruffled by the question as to whether any action had been taken on the donation, which had not been done according to the book, as well as its reversal as recommended by Parliament’s portfolio committee on environmental affairs.
City Press has previously reported that Mokgoro was linked to the dubious donation of more than 200 animals, by two signatures and a letter addressed to him regarding this donation.
It was later red-flagged by the auditor-general.
While the question was never about whether he had also benefited from the donation, Mokgoro emphasised that he never did.
“Ga ke a ja diphologolo tseo bagaetsho (I did not eat those animals, my dear people),” he said in Setswana.
“The media continues to say I benefited. I was a substantive chairperson of the North West Parks Board and any board acts within the dictates of a policy directed by the shareholder. A decision was taken by shareholders to implement inclusion of historically disadvantaged, in particular black, people and the policy itself is very sound.
“What the portfolio committee took issue with was the question of beneficiaries ... the matter has become a subject of discussion by the portfolio committee,” he said.
“If I find myself to have erred, the president will have my resignation yesterday ... in terms of principles I am committed to ethical conduct. I do not want to be in this position if I’m going to do this things as implied ... I didn’t benefit. I will not participate in something when there is clear evidence that it is illegal.”
READY TO PACK HIS BAGS
The premier said many people had threatened him, saying: “Re tla go ntsha fela jaaka re ntshitse your predecessor” (We will remove you just like we did with your predecessor).
In his reply, which appears to be largely directed at the public violence and destruction of property seen during the 2018 unrest, as well as anti-Mahumapelo protests, he said: “I am pleading with people … our challenges are such that I would not want to see a clinic burnt.
“If you don’t want me, say it. I will pack my bags and go, but you must do it within the constitution of the ANC and of the country.”
He said, however, in reaction to issues raised around his legitimacy as premier, that he remained the “executive authority” in the province.
A legal opinion had been sought to ensure that no irresponsible decisions were taken.
Meanwhile, the DA said it had decided to walk out of Sopa because “we question Mokgoro’s legitimacy to deliver it”.
The party’s chief whip, Freddy Sonakile, said of Mokgoro: “He is a ceremonial premier with no actual powers. The fact that section 100 has not been uplifted since Mahumapelo’s tenure means there is still much work to be done.
“Based on his previous Sopa, he accomplished only 50% of what he promised, which is reason for concern.”
Meanwhile, Mokgoro said in his address on Friday: “Section 100 intervention is moving into its second and last phase, ending August 2020. This follows on the visible stabilisation of the provincial government, and transversal work streams have been established to enable an integrated response to cost-cutting challenges.”