Ina Cronje with then Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Durban - One of the province’s most respected and successful MECs, Ina Cronjé, sworn in as an MPL only last week, has resigned from the legislature after not being appointed to the provincial cabinet.

The finance MEC has been replaced by the former chairwoman of the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), Belinda Scott.

Premier Senzo Mchunu announced his new cabinet at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.

Last night, Cronjé, who is in her 70s, confirmed that she had resigned, but declined to elaborate.

“I did resign and it is for personal reasons. I don’t want to talk about this. I just want to take it slow,” she said.

She said although she had left the government and legislature, she would remain active in the ANC.

Scott, also an ANC member, is one of two new MECs in Mchunu’s cabinet. She is among five women in the executive.

She said she was overwhelmed when Mchunu told her about her new responsibility.

Asked if she was shocked to hear about Cronjé’s resignation, Scott said: “I’m overwhelmed to receive this incredible position. I have not had an opportunity to speak to my very close colleague. I would not like to speculate on her feelings.”

Scott described Cronjé as a wonderful MEC.

“I have big shoes to fill,” she said.

Cronjé was not at the stadium when Mchunu was sworn in as the province’s fifth premier by KZN Judge President Chiman Patel.

Cronjé’s spokesmen, Musa Cebisa and Ntokozo Maphisa, said they were puzzled by her absence.

Her exclusion is seen as a great loss. Her career has included time as a teacher, lawyer and education MEC.

During her time in education, the department obtained its first unqualified audit since 1994.

Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Andrew Layman said he would be surprised if Cronjé had been deliberately left out.

“I am not sure of the reasons for Ina not being appointed, but she has been at it for a long time and I was expecting that she would not take up the position again.”

Layman said Scott was a good appointment, “but she will have a difficult act to follow”.

Also new on the KZN team is former provincial planning commission chairman Cyril Xaba, who is now MEC for agriculture and rural development. This portfolio was held by Meshack Radebe, who has been appointed deputy speaker.

Peggy Nkonyeni remains education MEC, a position she took over after Mchunu was appointed to replace former premier Zweli Mkhize.

The other MECs, whom Mchunu inherited, retained their positions.

However, some departments have been rearranged. The Department of Economic Development and Tourism, under Mike Mabuyakhulu, now includes environmental affairs. This means Mabuyakhulu is now in charge of KZN Ezemvelo, which was under the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The gambling board has moved from the premier’s office to the treasury.

Willies Mchunu continues as transport, community safety and liaison MEC, while Sbongiseni Dhlomo had kept his health portfolio.

Co-operative governance and traditional affairs remains under Nomusa Dube, human settlement and public works with Ravi Pillay, arts, culture, sport and recreation with Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha and social development under Weziwe Thusi.

Mchunu warned that his government had formed a new unit to deal with corrupt officials.

He said public servants would be forced to respect taxpayers by doing their work instead of enriching themselves. – Additional reporting by Lauren Rawlins

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The Mercury