New KZN Premier outlines priorities

Published Jun 19, 2024


Newly inaugurated KwaZulu-Natal Premier Thami Ntuli on Tuesday signalled his government’s intentions to prioritise service delivery by incorporating crime-fighting functions into the premier’s office.

Ntuli, who is also the provincial chairperson of the IFP, was sworn in as the premier of the province at a ceremony held in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday. He moved swiftly to announce the new provincial coalition government which brings together former political adversaries.

The new premier announced the realignment of departments in his government which included moving the Community Safety and Liaison portfolio to the premier's office.

The move was welcomed by his partners in the Government of Provincial Unity (GPU), who said the premier has the responsibility to ensure safety, security and stability in the province.

Ntuli also announced that the Department of Human Settlements will now be known as Transport and Human Settlements. His cabinet saw the dramatic return to the legislature of IFP veteran politician, Reverend Musa Zondi, who will be the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

Zondi, who was a confidant to the IFP founder, the late Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, returned to the party leadership structures in 2023.

IFP bigwig and former mayor of Zululand district municipality, Reverend Thulasizwe Buthelezi, will lead the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta). Buthelezi’s appointment has raised eyebrows as he is also the Traditional Prime Minister to the Zulu King, Misuzulu KaZwelithini.

He has butted heads with ANC leaders in the province and has been at the forefront of protecting the interests of the king and traditional leadership in KZN.

Buthelezi was involved in the infamous “mic grabbing” incident where ANC provincial chairperson Siboniso Duma took a microphone from Buthelezi as he tried to address the gathering at a traditional function in kwaCeza.

The function was attended by government dignitaries, including King Misuzulu and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

DA provincial chairperson, Francois Rodgers, was appointed Finance MEC while Martin Meyer will be in charge of Public Works and Infrastructure.

The appointment of the two DA leaders to these portfolios is in line with the party’s objective of leading service delivery departments.

Rodgers is a veteran of the finance department as he has been a member of the Finance and Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) Committee.

The Social Development Department went to Mbali Cynthia Shinga from the NFP which was instrumental in getting the IFP, DA and ANC-backed coalition government over the line.

Other MECs are:

‣ Health – Nomagugu Simelane

‣Agriculture and Rural Development – Thembeni kaMadlopha Mthethwa

‣ Transport and Human Settlements –Siboniso Duma

‣Education – Siphosihle Hlomuka

‣ Sports, Arts and Culture – Mntomuhle Khawula.

Ntuli identified crime as the government’s top priority, saying he wanted to oversee the efforts to deal with this scourge. He said he had received an in-depth briefing from KZN Police Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi about recent killings in the province.

“Yesterday I received very sad news from the provincial commissioner that women were travelling in one vehicle from a certain function in Ladysmith and someone came driving past and shot at them,” he said, adding that there were fatalities.

“We have promised that we will prioritise fighting crime and bringing stability to the province. As a result, I have decided to place Community Safety and Liaison in the Office of the Premier,” he said.

Ntuli urged the members of the Government of Provincial Unity (GPU) to work together. “Now is the time to put the people of KwaZulu-Natal first. All of us are expected to serve with honesty, dignity and diligently. We must never betray the people of our province who voted for us.”

MEC for Finance Rodgers said bringing Community Safety into the premier’s office was a good move.

“I think that was a good move, remember that the premier is tasked with ensuring that there is peace and stability in the province.”

Speaking on the realignment of the Transport and Human Settlement Departments, he said they will be meeting the premier in the coming days where the realignment will be discussed further.

Rodgers said he will be meeting the officials of his new department on Wednesday.

He said his priority is to ensure that departments are funded according to their needs. He will also focus on cutting the “frills” that are not part of service delivery.

“I have said before we need to go back to zero-base budgeting. Every department starts at zero with their budget and we calculate all the needs of each department.

We have been doing it in reverse where we just added percentages to what their budgets had gotten in previous financial years.”

ANC spokesperson Mafika Mndebele said the ANC MECs will continue to work hard to deliver services to the community of the province. He refused to speak on the realignment of portfolios, saying it was the prerogative of the premier to speak on such matters.

The Mercury