New KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, outside the legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday where he was sworn in as head of the province. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/Africa News Agency (ANA)

PIETERMARITZBURG - Newly elected KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has identified crime and corruption as a key priority for government in the next five years. 

He was delivering his acceptance speech immediately after being elected in a sitting presided over by KZN Judge President Achmat Japie at the KZN legislature on Wednesday

Zikalala thanked the voters who supported all the political parties in the province, saying that elected leaders where the "credible and collective voice of the people in the province".

"In the coming five years, we shall continue to work together to improve service delivery, fighting poverty, unemployment, crime and corruption," Zikalala said.

He also highlighted the need to revamp both the health and education systems which were the two biggest spending items for provincial government.  

He added that he regarded his election at the helm  of provincial government as a responsibility, and not a position, conceding that there were massive challenges before the new leaders, including fighting poverty and inequality.  

"These are huge responsibilities but with the support of members of the legislature, our partners in the labour movements, business community and civil society, as well as the citizens who came to the polls in great numbers to reaffirm the mandate of this government, our duty will be made easier,"  he said.

Zikalala, who has acted in the position of premier a number of times since joining the provincial cabinet in 2016 was elected unopposed with former premier Willies Mchunu part of the audience that saw his crowning moment. 

"We commit to achieve higher levels of development for all the people of this province by building on the solid foundation laid by our predecessors," said the KZN premier. 

Zikalala is the eighth KZN premier since the dawn of democracy and the fifth to come from the ANC.

Former ANC Youth League Nontembeko Boyce was elected KZN legislature Speaker, Mluleki Ndobe, as deputy speaker and Super Zuma, the former ANC KZN secretary was elected Chief Whip. 

African News Agency (ANA)