Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha. Picture: Chester Makana

Polokwane - Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha and MECs of the five key departments that were placed under national administration in 2011 are to assume their executive powers.

This comes after the cabinet officially returned management of Limpopo’s governance to the provincial executive on Monday.

At a joint media briefing held by interministerial committee members and Mathabatha in Polokwane on Monday, it was announced that the national intervention has been terminated in terms of section 100 (1) (b) of the constitution.

This will end the two-and-a-half -year presence of the national administration team that had been sent to clean up the tender rot and rescue the province from financial collapse.

In December 2011, the cabinet placed the provincial treasury, education, health, public works, and roads and transport departments under national administration.

That unprecedented cabinet decision stripped former premier Cassel Mathale and his executive of powers to take key decisions in the five affected departments.

It was under Mathale’s watch that the province was plunged into a R2.7 billion cash-flow crisis, which was blamed on politically connected tenderpreneurs.

Goods and services that were procured at highly inflated prices, through unlawful tender procedures, rendered the province technically bankrupt.

Furthermore, unpaid invoices stood at R500 million by the time the cabinet intervened.

It was announced on Monday that the province would get back its executive powers.

But Mathabatha will still take orders from the national government and account for his decisions until the cabinet was satisfied the province was able to run efficiently.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the current intervention has been converted to section 100 (1) (a), through which the national government will exercise an oversight role and provide support to the province.

“Rather than being physically present in Limpopo through administrators, we need to give directives… and receive regular reports, and that is what is contained in a memorandum of understanding that we are signing with the province,” said Nene.

Mathabatha is expected to consult the national government when he appoints “competent senior managers” in key positions, said Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane.

While the onus lay with the province to appoint competent personnel in strategic positions, Chabane said ”because of section 100 (1) (a) we will be interested to see as to whether that’s being fulfilled”.

Chabane would not say how long it would take to conclude ongoing disciplinary hearings.

Nene said they still needed to address the issue of incomplete disciplinary and criminal cases.

“The intervention team has, in collaboration with provincial heads of departments, put in place sustainability projects that will respond to these challenges.”

A 2012 promise by his predecessor, Pravin Gordhan, that special “World Cup 2010 style” courts will be on standby to prosecute officials and service providers that transgress, has yet to materialise.

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The Star