Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul on Tuesday promised a ''people-centred'' provincial government, saying that budgeted funds for new vehicles for MECs will be utilised to purchase ambulances instead. Photo: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul on Tuesday promised a ''people-centred'' provincial government, saying that budgeted funds for new vehicles for MECs will be utilised to purchase ambulances instead. 

Saul will on Wednesday announce members of his new cabinet, which he said would be smaller due to the reconfiguration of some of the departments.

"This announcement [of new MECs] will not be followed by a shopping spree for new vehicles. Cars for MECs will be purchased on basis of absolute necessity and by the approval of the premier. All unused monies budgeted for new cars for MECs must be directed to the Department of Health to augment the budget to purchase ambulances," he said as he delivered his speech after his inauguration in Kimberley.

"I commit here that I will be an activist premier, who will always be amongst the people. I will spend less time absorbed in the comforts of the office and dwelling under the shade of self-adulation."

In ensuring service delivery especially in health and education, Saul said he will spend time monitoring the departments of education and that of health personally. He will establish "corner offices" for himself at the department of education and at the casualty unit at Robert Sobukwe Hospital situated in the heart of Kimberley. 

"From next week I will move out of the comfort of the premier’s office and spend one day or two days in a week working from the reception area in the Department of Education and the casualty area at Robert Sobukwe Hospital complex. Despite the difficulties, we are going to get our education system on track and be amongst the best performing provinces in the country. We are going to improve the performance of the Department of Health and give dignity to our patients.  My seriousness to build a modern, growing and successful province will be demonstrated tomorrow with the calibre of the MECs that will be appointed to these two departments. It will be MECs with courage, norm-breakers, astute and hardworking," he said.

Politicians are not royalty, he added.

"We can’t, as elected leaders continue to indulge in luxury sedans and SUVs whilst our sickly people are struggling to access ambulances. Our work as this sixth administration will be uncompromisingly people-centred, we are going to cut the extra fat to the bone. We are not here for blue lights and self-indulgence. All MECs to be appointed to this administration must understand that the opportunity to serve our people is an absolute honour, and not a stepladder to riches and fame. We are not royalty here, but ordinary and simple social and political activists."

Saul was provincial ANC secretary general until his election as chairperson in 2017 when ex-premier Sylvia Lucas withdrew her nomination for the position. The ANC national executive committee has since appointed Lucas as  National Council of Provinces deputy chairperson. The Northern Cape is one of the poorest provinces in the country, with high unemployment rates. In triggering economic growth, Saul said the province is in the process of establishing a ''war room'' and an investment council to reduce unemployment.

"Both the war room and the investment council will be chaired and convened by the Premier and will, amongst others, be constituted by experts, labour and business people. The office of the premier is already seized with the work of drafting the terms of reference for both structures."

Furthermore, the province will start doing away with the tender system.

"This will enable us to create more jobs and to curb corruption related to the state procurement processes. It is completely unacceptable that our departments cannot purchase basic necessities such as toilet papers and detergents, from local stores, but must go through some form of a tender process. There will be dedicated work to ensure that we de-tenderise the state in our effort to cut costs of rendering services to our people."  

To raise more funding for education for the poor, Saul said he has instructed the public works department to sell the Northern Cape official house. The money from the sale will be directed to the provincial bursary fund. 

African News Agency (ANA)