Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane
Pretoria - New Mpumalanga Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC, Mandla Ndlovu, and Premier Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane insist that their political and governmental roles would not interfere with service delivery.
Six weeks after being elected as the new ANC leader in Mpumalanga, Ndlovu was appointed as an MEC in Mtsweni-Tsipane’s cabinet reshuffle.
Ndlovu was first sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature in Mbombela on Friday.
During their press briefing, both Ndlovu and Mtsweni-Tsipane insisted that their political and governmental roles would not affect service delivery.
“There is no boss. What enjoins us the most is that we work for the people of Mpumalanga. Whatever (race) we have started together, we must finish together. To me it’s business as usual,” said Mtsweni-Tsipane.
Although yesterday’s move saw the reshuffling of the provincial cabinet, the premier made it clear that no MEC had been pushed to lose their job to accommodate Ndlovu’s appointment.
Instead, Ndlovu was merely filling a gap left when former agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs MEC Mandla Msibi was fired late last year, she said.
This resulted in a cabinet reshuffle that saw MEC Busi Shiba being moved to Msibi’s former portfolio while Ndlovu took over at the department.
“I believe that the executive that I lead must be constituted by individuals who will discharge their responsibilities unencumbered by major distractions and deficiencies that might diminish their focus and our obligations to the people of Mpumalanga,” Mtsweni-Tsipane said.
An analyst who last month predicted that Ndlovu’s win as ANC chairperson would result in a cabinet reshuffle in the province ahead of the party’s national elective conference in December labelled his recent appointment as questionable.
“With such an appointment, it is inevitable that MEC Ndlovu is now a super MEC. This raises very practical issues of accountability. How do you allow a political head of a political party to report to his political juniors in their capacities as political principals in government?
“The premier is an additional member to a provincial executive structure that MEC Ndlovu leads. Conflict is inevitable. MEC Ndlovu now occupies a very powerful and strategic position because all the municipalities in the province fall under Cogta,” said Dr John Molepo, a senior lecturer in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Mpumalanga.
It is not the first time that a provincial ANC leader has been appointed as MEC in a government led by his political junior. Despite beating then premier Senzo Mchunu during KwaZulu-Natal’s ANC elective conference in 2015, Sihle Zikalala was appointed MEC less than 10 months later.
He served as MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs under Premier Willies Mchunu. Zikalala became premier in May 2019.