Sihle Zikalala’s appointment seen as a move to forge unity and dispel ‘purge’ rumour

Former premier Sihle Zikalala shake hands with his successor Nomusa Dube-Ncube after a cabinet reshuffle yesterday.Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Former premier Sihle Zikalala shake hands with his successor Nomusa Dube-Ncube after a cabinet reshuffle yesterday.Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 12, 2022


Durban — In a move to forge unity and dispel rumours of purging defeated party members after conferences, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has retained former premier Sihle Zikalala in the cabinet.

In a surprise development on Thursday, Zikalala was announced as the new Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) MEC by his successor, Nomusa Dube-Ncube.

Zikalala, who resigned as premier last week, accepted the redeployment to the cabinet and was in a jovial mood, joking with media and other MECs on Thursday after taking the oath for the new position.

His appointment to the cabinet was seen as a move by the party to appease his supporters and to prove that there was no intention to purge him after he failed to be re-elected to the position of chairperson in the recent conference.

In their first post-conference briefing, the new provincial leadership revealed that it had never wanted Zikalala to leave his position as premier. The party said it had initially turned down his request to resign his post, but said he insisted that he wanted to go.

The new leadership said it had asked him at least to stay in the government, hence his redeployment to the cabinet position on Thursday.

In her acceptance speech as premier on Wednesday, Dube-Ncube heaped praise on Zikalala, saying he was leaving behind a catalogue of achievements.

After his resignation last week there was speculation about Zikalala’s political future, with some people suggesting that he would be sent to Parliament or appointed as an ambassador. Instead, he replaced Sipho Hlomuka, who was moved to the Transport, Community Safety and Liaison Department.

Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, who lost the deputy chairperson position to Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane, was replaced by Mbali Fraser, while Hlengiwe Mavimbela’s position as Arts, Culture and Sports MEC went to Amanda Bani-Mapena.

In the Finance portfolio, Dube-Ncube appointed Peggy Nkonyeni who held the Transport, Community Safety and Liaison portfolio. Former Newcastle mayor and current provincial treasurer Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba replaced Jomo Sibiya as Human Settlements and Public Works MEC Mahlaba defeated Sibiya for the treasurer position at the conference.

MECs Nonhlanhla Khoza and Bongi Sithole-Moloi retained their portfolios in Social Development and Agriculture respectively. Nomagugu Simelane also kept her position as Health MEC, contrary to speculation that the position would be taken over by Dr Mahlaba, who is a qualified medical doctor.

The Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs position which was vacated by MEC Ravi Pillay went to the party’s provincial chairperson, Siboniso Duma.

Opposition parties were not impressed by the changes, with the IFP calling it a Duma cabinet rather than Dube-Ncube’s.

The party said the executive reshuffle was expected considering the events of the recent conference.

“The IFP notes the changes as more a ‘Duma cabinet’, rather than a Dube-Ncube cabinet.

“All the changes that have taken place in the ANC leadership in the province – and in government – have not just been an automatic occurrence. They are a testimony to the kind of pressure that the IFP has exerted upon the dysfunctional Zikalala/ANC executive in KwaZulu-Natal in its capacity as the official opposition,” the IFP said.

“The premier will have to do double duty: during the day, she is the premier, presiding over MECs – who are PEC members – and after work, she subjects herself, and must account, to those very same MECs in the PEC,” it said.

The DA said the new provincial cabinet was a clear sign that the so-called Taliban faction had taken control of the ANC and the KZN legislature.

The party said it was also a very strong indication that the interests of KZN’s people and the future of the province were not being placed ahead of party politics.

“While the ANC initially stated that there would be no purging of former MECs, a close look at the new line-up shows that four of the new MEC posts are members of this group. Clearly, they have come to collect their dues.”

It said Zikalala’s appointment was just a token.

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