HIGHVELD – Mpumalanga DA is worried about the provincial cabinet that was appointed by Mr David Mabuza, the Premier.
It is concerned over his choice of certain people who have been rewarded for their political loyalties and not their governance skills or experience.
“We welcome the Premier’s decision to split the departments of health and social development into two portfolios, as both present their own unique challenges and require their respective MECs’ undivided attention.
“We further welcome the merger of the Departments of Finance and Economic Development, as efficient government spending on all levels would act as a driver of economic growth and job creation.” Mr Anthony Benardie, DA leader and Member of the Provincial Legislature, said.
He said while certain departmental changes may bode well for Mpumalanga’s people, the DA is concerned over the Premier’s choice of members of the executive council (MECs) to take charge of their respective portfolios.
Mr Benardie said Mr Vusi Shongwe has been reappointed in the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison in a time when crime threatens to spiral out of control in the province.
“While we welcome the continuity created by his reappointment, the DA will keep a close eye on his ability to safeguard Mpumalanga’s rural areas and improving road safety,” said Mr Benardie.
The DA welcomed the return of Ms Reginah Mhaule to the Department of Education.
“She is aware of the many challenges and concerns that beset education in Mpumalanga.
“We believe that the MEC has much to improve upon her past term, but that she brings continuity to a department that regularly finds itself in crisis.
“The DA will maintain our intensive oversight of the MEC and this portfolio,” said Mr Benardie.
He said Mr Eric Kholwane, MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, will have to prove himself, especially in tightening up Government’s almost unchecked spending and providing the necessary financial support to municipalities.
“His immediate task will be to bring stability to the chaotic state of affairs at the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency and Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency.”
Mr Benardie said the appointment of Mr Gillion Mashego as the MEC for Department of Health, is probably the most shocking and terrifying decision.
“Mpumalanga’s health care system is in a deep state of crisis and requires strong, experienced and capable leadership.
“Deeply loyal to Mr Mabuza, Mr Mashego has no experience in public office or the health sector.
“Implicated in tender irregularities during the Pilgrim’s Rest flawed tender process, his appointment is more than likely a move by Mr Mabuza to pacify a deeply divided Bohlabela region of the ANC.”
Mr Benardie said the Mpumalanga Department of Human Settlements is in need of strong and capable leadership.
He said Ms Violet Siwela has been put in charge of a department far behind on its delivery targets and the DA fears that under her leadership the housing crisis in Mpumalanga will never be solved.
Mr Benardie said the work of Mr Andries Gamede, MEC for the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land Affairs and Environmental Services, has been cut out for him to bring stability to the agricultural sector and ensure food security.
“While he has slowly built up his experience in government, he has to take firm control of this department and build sound relations with formal agricultural unions.
“He must prioritise the capacitation of emerging farmers and eliminate the vast land reform corruption that ravages this department.
“While being a Mr Mabuza loyalist, the former MEC for the Department of Human Settlements failed to improve the housing crisis in the province.”
Mr Benardie said Ms Refilwe Mtsweni, MEC for the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, lacks the skill or strength of character to manage a complex portfolio.
“Municipal governance across Mpumalanga’s municipalities is the weakest it has ever been, with almost every municipality in a state of financial crisis.
“With the local government elections looming in 2016 and people increasingly resorting to violent protests over the lack of service delivery, Ms Mtsweni does not have the political backbone to provide strong leadership to a critical part of government’s service delivery programme.
“The DA will closely monitor this department as municipalities plunge from one crisis to the next.”
Mr Benardie said Ms Dumisile Nhlengethwa, MEC for the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport, brings with her a wealth of parliamentary experience where she has served since 1999.
“Hopefully she will put all this experience to work and clean up a department rife with corruption and missed delivery targets.”
Mr Benardie said Ms Nomsa Mtsweni, MEC for the Department of Social development, brings with her many years of experience in the Legislature.
“As former MEC she has the ability to rescue a department beset by mal-administration and poor management.
“How she deals with the department’s ability to keep non-governmental organisations and non-profit organisations afloat will be a true test of her ability, provided she is allowed to do so.”
Mr Benardie said Ms Norah Mahlangu, MEC for the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation, has no track record of leadership or governance experience.
“This position clearly stems from her loyalty to the premier.
“This portfolio has never been a priority of Government, as the development of sport and cultural diversity and development has hardly ever been promoted.
“Hopefully Ms Mahlangu will be the fresh breeze this department so sorely needs.”