Cape Town - The ANC thanked Cassel Mathale for his leadership role as premier of Limpopo, following his announcement on Monday that he had resigned.
“Since his election in 2009, comrade Mathale has executed the mandate bestowed upon the African National Congress by the people of Limpopo with dedication and commitment,” spokesman Jackson Mthembu said after Mathale's statement that the party had decided to “recall” him.
“The ANC expresses its gratitude to him for the leadership role he played as head of the provincial executive, thus today leaving behind a prosperous, thriving and stable province, notwithstanding some of the challenges experienced in recent times.”
The party looked forward to working with Mathale in future and was confident that the provincial legislature would fill his post quickly to ensure no disruptions in governance.
In earlier reaction, the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union said the ANC had shown “decisive leadership” by recalling him.
“This is a significant step by the African National Congress to ensure unity inside the movement, and also in restoring people's confidence in the movement and government,” Nehawu provincial chairman Mike Shingange said.
“Without being triumphalists, our union is happy to see that the ANC has at long last endorsed our view that Mr Mathale was a liability and an embarrassment to our movement and government.”
The union described Mathale as a “divisive” figure who had encouraged factionalism and invited foreign tendencies into the ruling party and the provincial government.
Shingage said it would support the ANC's appointment of a new premier.
In Mathale's resignation statement he said his “redeployment” was consistent with the ANC's culture and tradition.
Provincial government spokesman Tebatso Mabitsela confirmed Mathale would remain in his position until his resignation had been confirmed in a legislature sitting. Because of the separation of powers, he could not say when the special sitting would be held.
The Democratic Alliance said the latest developments were in line with its own unsuccessful efforts to have a debate on a motion of no confidence in Mathale held in the legislature.
“All the efforts to block the DA's motion in the legislature have proved meaningless, as today's move effectively is in agreement with the DA's long-held position,” said DA Limpopo legislature caucus leader Desiree van der Walt.
“Mr Mathale's track record in government is so poor that he should have been shown the door a long time ago,” she said.
Inkatha Freedom Party Chief Whip Koos van der Merwe said the party hoped the recent spate of resignations and the Cabinet reshuffle were signs the ANC was taking a tougher stand against corruption.
Congress of the People acting provincial chairman Patrick Sikhutshi said the resignation was long overdue, and called on members of Mathale's executive council (MECs) to also resign.
“Should they resign on their own accord, it will go a long way in trying to restore the credibility to their leadership, which is long being damaged,” he said.
Mathale was appointed premier on May 9, 2009.
He listed his achievements during his term of office. These included improving the matric pass rate, building 63,123 houses and 15 bridges, providing 1.2 million households with water and electricity, and expanding access to antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV/Aids.
He acknowledged there were still problems, but did not mention that in December 2011 five provincial government departments were placed under administration because of allegations of corruption and gross violation of the Public Finance Management Act.
He also did not mention the scandal in 2012 when it was found that textbooks for certain grades had not been delivered to schools.
Mathale was removed as ANC provincial chairman in April, when the party's national executive committee decided to disband the provincial executive committee.
It did so because of “un-ANC behaviour and institutionalised factional conduct”. It was replaced by an ANC provincial task team.
Mathale said contrary to perceptions, he and the provincial government had acted against corruption and had not interfered with investigations.
“At no stage have we attempted to derail or delay any process of investigation or disciplining any irregular conduct,” he said.
“Under all material conditions, we have never sought to channel or redirect state resources to pursue any agenda except the noble course of realising the pledges made to our people.
“Therefore, I also leave the office of the premier with my conscience clean that I have never done anything unlawful and un-ANC... Thank you and goodbye.” - Sapa