Panyaza Lesufi: We are not selfish, the DA wanted three MEC posts and we offered them exactly that

Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 4, 2024


Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi says the door is not closed on negotiations with the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the province as he seeks to build an inclusive government of provincial unity.

IOL reported on Wednesday night that Lesufi had unveiled his provincial executive of largely ANC Members of Executive Council (MECs), joined by three executives representing the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Patriotic Alliance (PA), and Rise Mzansi.

National chairperson of Rise Mzansi, Vuyiswa Ramokgopa was appointed by Lesufi as MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development; the IFP’s Bonginkosi Ndlovu was appointed as MEC for e-Government; and the Patriotic Alliance’s Sheila Mary Peters was appointed MEC for Environment.

Lesufi said he has a good relationship with Msimanga, which augurs well for future negotiations.

“The good thing is I have a good relationship with Solly, we meet. I can call him after this (interview), go and have some coffee or tea, so we will continue to do that. It is very important.

“It is not for political interest, but it is for the citizens of this country. We are very committed to ensure that we bring them on. We will not get tired (in trying) to bring them on board. It is unfortunate, the statements that are being attached, that we wanted to take everything, we didn’t,” the Gauteng ANC provincial chairperson told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

“We responded to a document that they said they want three MECs, we have given them three MECs. We responded to a document where they wanted deputy speaker, we have given them deputy speaker. They wanted to chair six committees, we are ready even today to give them six committees.”

DA leader Solly Msimanga interacting with Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

Panyaza said the only reason Gauteng has seven ANC MECs is because other political parties opted not to enter the provincial executive.

“The political parties that signed up for the government of provincial unity, it is three. Not because we are selfish, we want seven MECs. If they were four, we would give them the four positions. Actually, the Freedom Front Plus signed but they said we don’t have a team or person that is capable to be an MEC, we would prefer to have two committees that we chair – we are going to give them the two committees,” he said.

“It is not that we wanted everything for ourselves. We understand we didn’t win the elections. We understand we are the party that was preferred by more people in Gauteng, but we need to bring everyone, be inclusive and deal with this.”

Lesufi said it is encouraging that the DA says it has not closed the door on the negotiations in the economic heartbeat province of South Africa.

“We will engage until we find each other. They might not be in the executive, there are many other roles that they can play. We will want to a government that can function, that can protect the weak and render services,” he said.

Democratic Alliance leader in Gauteng, Solly Msimanga. File Picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

On Thursday morning, DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga said the positions created for the IFP, Patriotic Alliance and Rise Mzansi were actually “diluted” and ineffective in service delivery.

“Minimum for them (ANC) was getting seven seats in the cabinet, plus one seat of the premier. So they wanted to have eight seats in the cabinet and make sure they only give three seats to the DA and other parties. That is something that we were not prepared to do,” Msimanga told Newzroom Afrika.

“Also, we were not prepared to just give names, then hope and pray that the departments that we will be given would be meaningful. See what has been given to other political parties now as MECs. Those departments have been diluted now to be absolutely nothing. The powers of those departments have been taken away. I’ll give an example, the Department of e-Gov has never been a standalone, it’s always been merged either with infrastructure or in the last term, it was always merged with Cogta (Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs).

“At this time it is just gonna be in limbo. You are not gonna be able to do much. The Department of Agriculture in Gauteng has never been a standalone. It has always been with Economic Development because Gauteng is not a big agricultural province. It relies on other provinces,” he said.

The former mayor of Tshwane said agriculture in Gauteng exists in the form of agro-processing and therefore the department should be married to the Economic Development portfolio.

“That has also been stripped, and it is laughable to then say you are now having a Department of Environment that talks to helping municipalities to clean up. Really? That is a joke of note. This doesn’t talk to real power sharing. The ANC has exposed itself that they did not want partners, they wanted voters,” said Msimanga.