The appointment of Wendy Nelson as acting premier of the North West by Supra Mahumapelo is another clear indication of how the embattled premier will go to any length to keep his fingers in the people of the province’s pie.
He chose somebody who openly affiliates with him and somebody he can trust to act at his behest despite his leave of absence. It is like a puppet master who will stay in control even if he cannot be seen by the public.
Nelson is a case of more of the same. Her appointment is not good for our communities because she will just continue where Mahumapelo left off.
MEC Nelson has shown her abilities at the department of finance and enterprise development, where she failed dismally. There is no trust in her integrity, given that she is an open supporter and ally of Mahumapelo. Both were in Dubai on an unexplained trip, at the expense of the people’s money.
Under her watch, the health department was governed from bad to worse. It was during her time that the R30 million Gupta-Mediosa contract happened. In March, the North West health and social development portfolio committee laid corruption charges against Mahumapelo and Nelson, among others, in the wake of investigations into suspected R160-million fraud, corruption, and maladministration relating to a Gupta-linked medical service provider.
She is also the MEC responsible for the payment of the controversial Nepo contracts amounting to more than R200-million.
Under her guardianship, not a single municipality has received a clean audit.
Our people are in desperate need of service delivery and have to survive among sewage, without water, electricity and proper housing. Infrastructure is necessary to grow our economy and create jobs – yet the provincial government under Mahumapelo and Nelson who is the purse carrier, is dilapidated, old and no maintenance take place.
The health department has been under the administration of the finance department for more than five years and currently, the health system in the province has come to a complete standstill. Clinics are closed and no medicine is available to patients. Even preventative medication like immunisations for babies is currently unavailable.
For us, it’s about the people of the North West. We have gone through so much pain, to an extent that we lost lives, educational institutions and health facilities to serve the vulnerable and the poorest of the poor.
I have visited affected areas and engaged personally with the victims. Indeed it was not a good sight to see.
Mahumapelo’s legacy is one of destruction, corruption and mismanagement. His tainted period in office will be remembered for all the wrong reasons:
• The monument in honour of Jacob Zuma – a broken man who now faces corruption charges;
• Tenders to the Guptas worth millions while the people of North West suffer without basics like water and electricity;
• His open affiliation and proud friendship with the Guptas who are accused of state capture;
• His disrespect for the Parliament of South Africa – swearing at opposition party members;
• He flatly refuses to share the damning forensic reports that have been commissioned by his office, pertaining to provincial departments, provincial entities, municipalities, and municipal entities;
• Mahumapelo’s Youth Entrepreneurship Services programme, which is supposed to address one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the country, has allocated the bulk of the Grant to Ngaka Modiri Molema (more than R2 million) and Bojanala Platinum (about R1.75 million) municipalities, coincidentally areas where Mahumapelo’s personal support base is strongest;
• Hospitals and clinics are understaffed and without resources. There are no proper patient transport systems in place;
• Towns and cities are falling apart due to no maintenance due to corrupt spending by government;
• Our communities and schools are subjected to bucket toilets and pit toilets still – 24 years into our democracy; and
• His open incitement to violence and race division during the Coligny protests.
Nelson was part of Mahumapelo’s cabinet and MEC for finance when all this happened. Therefore we doubt that Mahumapelo’s successor will be capable, credible, honest and will truly serve the people. We are sceptical that the ANC will oversee connected cadres to ensure the people of North West gets a premier who will care, create jobs, govern with integrity and put the people first.
She had not been acting premier for 24 hours and a can of worms was opened on alleged nepotism and allegation that some close to her illegally benefited from her position as MEC for finance.
We call on the people of the North West to remain calm and not to take the law into their own hands; we remain positive. We will not rest until Mahumapelo is gone.
The people of North West deserves better. Only total change can better the lives of communities. Total change only a DA-led government can bring.
• Joe McGluwa is leader of the DA in the North West