New Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi vows to improve township living conditions

New Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

New Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 7, 2022


Pretoria - New Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has given himself and the incoming provincial executive less than 18 months to change the living conditions of people in the townships, informal settlements and apartheid-era hostels.

Lesufi revealed his ambitious plans minutes after he was elected as the premier in the provincial legislature yesterday following the resignation of David Makhura on Tuesday.

He defeated the DA’s provincial leader, Solly Msimanga, by a huge margin. Lesufi secured 38 votes, while Msimanga only managed to secure 22 of the 73 seats in the legislature.

Sergio dos Santos – one of the 20 DA members in the legislature – couldn’t be part of the voting as he was on an Umrah visit. Umrah is a non-mandatory lesser pilgrimage made by Muslims to Mecca, which may be performed at any time of the year.

Adding to Msimanga’s woes, one of the opposition parties voted for Lesufi to bring his number to 38, adding to the ANC’s 37 members who also voted for the party’s provincial chairperson and long-serving MEC for Education. One opposition party member abstained from voting.

The EFF, which has 11 seats, surprisingly walked out of the legislature, after claiming that it wouldn’t vote until police acted against Makhura for his alleged involvement in the personal protective equipment (PPE) scandal. But that was not enough to deter the voting and the election of Lesufi.

But it was Lesufi’s acceptance speech that caught the attention of the public, including Makhura, who was seated in the gallery alongside Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who is Lesufi’s mentor.

Despite there being less than 18 months to the next general election, possibly in May or June 2024, Lesufi promised that his immediate mission was to improve service delivery in townships.

He said if “we failed to change the living conditions of townships, we would have failed in our accomplishments”.

Despite his predecessors, including Makhura, admitting that the rapid growth of informal settlements due to in-migration in Gauteng annually was severely affecting development, Lesufi told his audience that he would eradicate them swiftly as part of his legacy.

“We would also not have achieved our goals if we do not deal with the hostels 28 years since our democracy,” Lesufi insisted.

Addressing the media after being sworn in by the Gauteng High Court’s Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba, Lesufi reiterated his ambitious plans, saying he would appoint men and women in his cabinet who would be up to the task.

He is expected to name his new cabinet later today.

But Msimanga was sceptical about Lesufi’s vision, saying Gauteng residents could look forward to more of the same type of service delivery from Lesufi.

“As the DA, we do not expect Lesufi to do anything different. Gauteng residents will continue to suffer under the leadership of the ANC.

“Corruption will continue unabated, and there will be no value for money when tenders are awarded.

“Just like Makhura, who was unable to execute and put policies in place that will better the lives of our residents, Lesufi will also be blocked by his political masters and will not be able to make strategic decisions that will benefit the residents of our province,” he said.

Msimanga said if Lesufi was committed to changing how the provincial government did things, he would ensure that all lifestyle audits were completed before the end of the year and that officials implicated in the PPE tender scandal were brought to book.

Pretoria News