We are servants of the people, not celebrities. We are here to serve not to entertain and we must carry ourselves with the utmost humility and impeccable integrity at all times.
These were the stern words from Gauteng Premier David Makhura as he addressed his new provincial cabinet at their swearing in presided over by Judge President Dunstan Mlambo on Thursday morning.
“There will be many temptations in the office you occupy but when things get tough remain humble,” Makhura said as he addressed his new executive.
With six new members in his cabinet Makhura said that this was the team that was going to make things happen in the province.
“We have a new team Gauteng and it is different because it is a diverse team,” he said
“I know that in the past there are things we did that didn’t work so well so we are going to do new things now and complacency is not an option.”
Makhura went on to social issues that would be the core focus of his new team and these included the provision of quality healthcare for all; more, decent jobs; a better and improved education system; the continued demand for housing and land; and the eradication of poverty.
“We want to fix the Gauteng healthcare system. The people of our province want us to deliver better healthcare for all,” he said.
Makhura emphasised the dire situation that the healthcare system in the province [to be headed by Bandile Masuku] was in.
“Our healthcare system services more than 30 million people a year and it is not in a healthy state. 75% of our clinics look like they are doing a good job but there are still problems, such as people being turned away or clinics closing early,” he said.
“We have a lot of cleaning up to do in the healthcare system. We cannot have the tragic incident of life Esidimeni happen again.”
The Life Healthcare Esidimeni scandal resulted in the deaths of more than 140 psychiatric patients, who were moved from the Life facility to non-governmental organisations.
Following the tragic incident in 2015, the Life Esidimeni Arbitration was formed based on recommendation 17 of the health ombudsperson’s report into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the patients and proceeding began in 2017.
In the end the arbitrator awarded funeral costs amounting to R20 000 to those claimants whose loved ones had died, general damages for shock and psychological trauma amounting to R180 000 and constitutional damages amounting to R1 million to each claimant.
Just a few weeks before the May 8 elections, South Africa faced a number of service delivery protests that spread across the country to places including Alexandra Township.
Among the grievances of residents were lack of proper housing and land occupation.
Addressing this issue Makhura said: “We need a fresh approach to housing delivery and the release of land to people so they can build houses for themselves.”
Lebogang Maile – who was put in charge of the position of MEC for human settlements, urban planning and cooperative governance and traditional affairs – said he was looking forward to the opportunity to solve the many problems faced when it came to housing.
He told City Press: “We will deal with corruption both in government and in society. Those who have occupied houses and land illegally will face the might of the law. We cannot accept situations where houses are built and ready but are not allocated or situations where houses are allocated illegally to the wrong people."
“During the last term of office we launched ‘The rapid land release programme. We have many people who want to build houses for themselves but they don’t have space and we have land that is at the disposal of the government and therefore we will release that land.”
Commenting on the work that former education MEC Panyaza Lesufi had done in his previous portfolio, Makhura said that improvements made in that department had to be sustained.
“We must ensure that our children get better education and skills that prepare them for the future. Even our political opponents admit that we have done very well in that area,” he said.
The newly appointed education MEC, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, told City Press about a number of issues she would like to tackle first in her new appointment.
“One of the first issues we must deal with is the safety of children in schools and then deal with the racism in schools. Bullying is also one of the most important issues that I want to address first because my concern is that it is something we tend to overlook,” she said.
“I will continue with the work of making sure that the children of Gauteng are serviced and ensuring that not only do we have great education system but that every child is able to access it.”
Nkomo-Ralehoko emphasised the importance of ensuring that qualified teachers remained in the country rather than taking their skills abroad.
“Priority number one is the salaries and perks that teachers get because if an individual is not getting enough money he or she will leave for better opportunities,” she told City Press.
“We need to work on the relationships we have with teachers together with their unions.”
For Faith Mazibuko, who has returned to her previous position of MEC for community safety – a position she held more than five years ago – more needed to be done to curb crime.
“I can assure you that crime prevention will be at the top of our agenda. The way we deal with crime must change, of instead of the way we deal with crime being reactionary, we must be proactive, she said.
“As the department we will monitor the police and making sure that they continue doing their work.”
The executive council members will undergo induction on June 6 when training on ethics and public leadership will be conducted by former public protector Thuli Madonsela and former president Kgalema Motlanthe.