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Mixed reaction to KZN cabinet reshuffle that saw ANC provincial treasurer ‘demoted’

MEC Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

MEC Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

Published May 23, 2023


Durban - Opposition parties had a mixed reaction to Tuesday’s re-alignment of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial cabinet which saw the ANC’s provincial treasurer Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, "demoted" to a junior department.

The re-alignment of the cabinet follows last month’s resignation of Amanda Bani-Mapena, the former MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture.

During the reshuffle on Tuesday in Durban, the acting premier, Nomagugu Simelane, announced the inclusion of former Sadtu leader, Sipho KK Nkosi.

Nkosi is the new MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, replacing Mahlaba who has been shifted to the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Some in the ANC consider the department to be too junior for Mahlaba who is among the top five leaders in the ANC in the province

Mahlaba took over the powerful portfolio in August last year after the so-called ‘Taliban’ faction which he led, took power from the ‘Ankoles’ led by former premier Sihle Zikalala.

He replaced former MEC, Jomo Sibiya, a strong backer of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

But almost a year later, Mahlaba fell out of favour with some members of his faction based at the provincial headquarters of the ANC and has now been moved to what’s regarded as a junior portfolio.

The KwaZulu-Natal ANC welcomed the changes.

“We continue to emphasise the importance of ensuring that the creative industry is supported to enhance its job creation potential. Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba, as guided by the ANC, will strengthen programmes focusing on partnerships with industry stakeholders to unlock the potential of the sport, art and culture industries. We are determined to use this sector to unite the people of this province and ensure social cohesion.

“Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba is mandated to embark on a series of consultative engagements with various strategic stakeholders within the creative arts, culture and heritage sectors.

“He will solicit their input on how to bridge the gap between the ANC government and the people on the ground.

“We want KZN to continue to host national and international sporting activities as we have done over the years,” the ANC said.

But the DA in the province said the cabinet reshuffle was little more than damage control by a crisis-ridden ANC.

The party’s provincial leader Francois Rodgers, said the reshuffle was not being done to provide KZN’s people with better governance.

“This is evidenced by Mahlaba’s shift, which comes after a dismal performance during his short tenure as Human Settlements and Public Works MEC.

“Moving him to Sports, Arts, and Culture raises serious concerns about the damage he may inflict within this already dysfunctional department.

“The question is: Who is running the ANC in KZN? Is it the premier and the Executive that are making such major decisions?

“Or is it the ANC in eThekwini’s so-called Taliban faction?” Rodgers asked.

The National Freedom Party (NFP) in the Zululand district where Mahlaba was deployed as a champion MEC, welcomed his removal.

The party’s leader in the district, Siphamandla Ntombela, said Mahlaba was not co-operating with local municipalities to the extent that his programmes in the district were kept under wraps.

“It was not easy to understand how Mahlaba was working, we hope his removal will bring some change.

“We could hardly get hold of him when he was needed in the Zululand district.

"To us, his removal is good riddance,” Ntombela said.

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