KwaZulu-Natal's new health MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu is congratulated by the newly sworn-in premier, Sihle Zikalala. File photo: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA).

PIETERMARITZBURG - IFP leader in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Velenkosini Hlabisa has welcomed the injection of young blood into the provincial cabinet, but questioned whether the appointments in the education and health portfolios were "wise". 

KwaZulu-Natal's new premier, Sihle Zikalala, was sworn in on Monday and announced his cabinet shortly thereafter, to mixed reactions.  

Kwazi Mshengu - chairperson of the ANC youth league in the province - would be heading up the provincial education portfolio, while the ANC's provincial spokesperson, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu, was announced as the new MEC of health. 

Hlabisa said the positive aspect of the cabinet was the prominence of younger people, but, he added, KwaZulu-Natal's education department was one of the biggest in the country, and Mshengu had no experience in the field. Hlabisa said Mshengu should have been deployed into a junior post to familiarise himself with cabinet matters. 

"This appointment is going to deepen the problems in the department as he has no experience in education. The same goes for health, because the new MEC has a legal background and is not familiar with matters in the medical or health field," said Hlabisa.   

DA caucus leader Francois Rogers also raised questions over some appointments, singling out Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Peggy Nkonyeni and Bongi Sithole Moloi as bad choices. 

Rogers said the appointment of Dube-Ncube as economic development and tourism MEC was "puzzling", following what the DA regarded as the failure of municipalities under her watch as cooperative governance MEC. 

"That she has now been handed the ultimate ‘jobs for pals’ portfolio is alarming. With the collapse of both Msunduzi and eThekwini also under her watch, this is one MEC who should not have returned and one can only wonder what she will bring to her critical new role," said Rogers.

The reality though, added Rogers, was that the province would not move forward without the creation of a capable state. 

The EFF provincial chairperson and Legislature member, Vusi Khoza, said the party would apply a wait and see approach.

He did, however, dismiss the argument that Simelane-Zulu was incapable of running the health portfolio. 

"Let us remember that the problems we have in the department took place under the eye of Dr. Sibongiseni Dhlomo, so the doctor has already brought the department to its knees," said Khoza.

Zikalala is expected to deliver the state of the province address in June. 

African News Agency (ANA)