Johannesburg - Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s tenure as agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister has been dogged by controversy, but she is staying put for now and won’t be redeployed to become the new Northern Cape premier, according to the ANC and senior staffers in her department.
Northern Cape Environmental Affairs and Nature Conservation MEC Sylvia Lucas is tipped to take the reins in a province that has effectively not had a premier for a year, after Hazel Jenkins collapsed during her State of the Province address last year.
This week, the ANC in the Northern Cape dismissed speculation that Joemat-Pettersson would be redeployed to the province, and that she and Communications Minister Dina Pule were facing the chop from the cabinet.
The Northern Cape provincial executive committee (PEC) said last month that it intended asking the ANC national executive committee (NEC) for a directive on the appointment of a premier.
Gail Parker, the provincial spokeswoman, said at the time that the PEC wanted a premier appointed by the time the legislature opened on March 1.
But this week, provincial secretary Zamani Saul told The Sunday Independent that it was not possible to meet the March 1 deadline because the process would take longer.
“The reports (on Joemat-Pettersson) are mere speculation and even border on lies. We are still busy with the process and as soon as we are ready we will make an announcement,” he said.
Saul said the PEC had shortlisted three potential premiers: Lucas, Sports, Arts and Culture MEC Pauline Williams and Education MEC Grizelda Cjiekella, who was appointed acting premier after Jenkins fell ill.
An aide to Joemat-Pettersson and a senior staffer in her ministry said the minister had recently told staff that she was not leaving the ministry.
As a result of the speculation about Joemat-Pettersson, Andrew Louw, the leader of the DA in the Northern Cape, called on President Jacob Zuma to clarify the situation. “The Northern Cape cannot be a dumping ground for failed ministers,” Louw said.