Pietermaritzburg – Willies Mchunu was sworn in as KwaZulu-Natal’s premier in the province’s legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.
Mchunu’s election by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was unopposed as no other nominations were submitted for the position.
While the ANC welcomed his appointment, opposition parties expressed reservations over his appointment, pointing to divisions within the ruling party.
The ANC’s provincial secretary, Super Zuma, said Mchunu had all the right credentials to occupy the highest provincial government office.
“In Comrade Willies Mchunu you have an individual who has been in government for a long time and brings with him that maturity and seniority demanded of the position, so we are confident that he will be effective,” said Zuma.
The provincial secretary also gave a hint behind the ruling party’s sacking of Senzo Mchunu from the premiership.
“The main issue with us is that in his premiership is that now there will be synergy between the ANC and government,” said Zuma.
Willies Mchunu’s predecessor, Senzo Mchunu, resigned on Monday. In a statement released on Monday, Senzo Mchunu said that he had been presented with six reasons on Friday by the provincial leadership as to why he should resign.
However, neither he or the current ANC leadership have expanded on what those reasons were that led to their demand for him to step down.
Opposition parties on Wednesday, however, expressed their reservations over the new premier, saying he would not serve all of KwaZulu-Natal.
Leading the charge was Democratic Alliance leader Sizwe Mchunu who said the rift within the ruling party was hurting service delivery in the province.
“People of KZN should have mixed emotions over the new premier because he does not boast an appealing record as the Transport MEC. The fact is the new premier is a beneficiary of faction politics in the ANC which now spills over to government,” said Mchunu.
National Freedom Party leader Vikizitha Mlotshwa said the new appointment spelt disaster for the province, citing Mchunu’s term as MEC as a case in point.
“The main problem is that tensions have not been dealt with in the ruling party. We are witnessing community protests from all parts of the province and we cannot help but be afraid for the people of the province,” said Mlotshwa.
IFP spokesperson Joshua Mazibuko echoed the sentiments of other parties, saying Mchunu had not been a choice of everyone, but had been imposed by the faction that had taken over the ruling party.
Ndabesinhle Sibiya, spokesman for the premier, said that there would be no inauguration ceremony for the new premier.