Eastern Cape cabinet shake-up: Mabuyane rewards allies, ditches detractors

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Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane.
Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Die Burger
  • Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced a reshuffled cabinet on Tuesday.
  • Those who backed him at the provincial ANC conference in May had reportedly strong-armed Mabuyane to remove those who had campaigned for his removal.
  • Mabuyane announced the sacking of Transport and Safety MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe and Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Fezeka Nkomonye.

ANC heavyweights who campaigned against a second term for Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane as the party's provincial chairperson in May, got the chop on Tuesday.

Mabuyane announced a cabinet reshuffle in which Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe and Sport, Arts and Culture MEC Fezeka Nkomonye were given the boot.

The changes were announced at a media briefing on Tuesday.

Public Works MEC and MPL Babalo Madikizela, who resigned last week from both provincial government positions, was replaced by former Matatiele mayor Ntombovuyo Nkopane.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha moves to the transport and safety department to replace sacked MEC Tikana-Gxothiwe.

READ Oscar Mabuyane re-elected Eastern Cape ANC chairperson

Human settlements MEC Nonceba Khontsiwe replaced Nkomonye as MEC for sport, arts and culture.

The shake-up came as pressure was mounting on Mabuyane from his supporters to remove MECs who did not back him when Madikizela contested for the provincial chairperson position against him at the Eastern Cape ANC elective conference in May.

Mabuyane defeated Madikizela by 150 votes to get a second term as ANC chairperson in the province.

Education MEC Fundile Gade can count himself very lucky as he escaped the chop despite having been a supporter of Madikizela.

Mabuyane announced the changes at a media briefing at Lilian Diedericks House at the ministerial residential village in Bhisho.

READ Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane reshuffles his Cabinet

In a statement, Mabuyane said the developments in the provincial government were aimed at bolstering government performance and accelerating delivery on its programme of action.

As part of the shake-up, Mabuyane moved Social Development MEC Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi to the human settlements department.

News24 understands Mabuyane heeded calls to put a "highly-energetic" person with experience in the problem-plagued social development department.

Mani-Lusithi has been replaced by veteran MPL and ANC Women's League provincial task team convener Bukiwe Fanta.

The new faces in the cabinet are Fanta, newly sworn-in MPL Zolile Williams and Nkopane.

Mabuyane announced Williams as the new Cogta MEC.

READ Mabuyane claims ANC EC 'more coherent, much stronger' but that party facing existential crises

Williams replaces Nqatha.  

Nkopane is an ANC MPL and a former member of the provincial investigative task team which probed ANC list rigging allegations ahead of the 1 November municipal elections.

Nkomonye's sacking comes as a surprise to many as she has been receiving rave reviews for making strides in developing emerging artists in the province and reviving sport with fresh concepts.

In the new cabinet, only Nomakhosazana Meth and Gade managed to keep their positions as health and education MECs respectively.

Eastern Cape acting Judge President Selby Mbenenge swore in the members of the reshuffled cabinet.

Mabuyane said about his new cabinet:

This team ticks the right boxes in terms of the requisite leadership skills, the 60-40 percent gender equity in favour of women MECs, and the geographic spread of the province. As you know, Mr Zolile Williams - who is now MEC for Cogta - was a serial achiever of clean audits at the Joe Gqabi District Municipality. His experience in the local government environment will certainly bring about improvements in audit outcomes and functioning of our municipalities.

READ Mabuyane reiterates backing for Ramaphosa, denies purging opponents

He said Williams had spent more than 20 years in local government and that his new department would benefit from his wealth of experience.

Mabuyane described Fanta as an activist for women's emancipation.

"We all know that the majority of the people who are serviced by social development are women, the elderly and children. We believe she is the right person currently to lead our efforts of serving our vulnerable groups. We have many families that live in poverty and inhumane conditions, with some headed by children. She will work with her team and NGOs to alleviate the plight of such families," said Mabuyane.

He said Nkopane would build on the solid foundation of an agile public works and infrastructure department, which had been established by former MEC Madikizela:

We want to see more previously disadvantaged contractors growing with the support of the department and the transformation of the property sector utilising the government property portfolio.

Mabuyane thanked Nkomonye and Tikana-Gxothiwe for their service.

He also urged heads of departments and administrative staff to give maximum support to their new political bosses.

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