Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul runs an ‘animal farm’ government – Cope’s Pakes Dikgetsi

Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul. Picture: Danie van der Lith

Published Sep 15, 2023


Johannesburg - Pakes Dikgetsi, one of the leading politicians in the Northern Cape and Cope provincial leader, has dubbed Premier Zamani Saul’s government as an “animal farm” portrayed in a book by George Orwell.

In his depiction, Dikgetsi claims that Saul acted decisively against his provincial education head of department Moira Marais-Martin but failed to act against the HOD of Health, Dion Theys, and CFO Mosimanegape Gaborone, who are facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The two are facing criminal charges along with seven others for the alleged theft of R16 million related to personal protective equipment (PPE) funds.

On August 16 last month, Theys was found guilty in the Kimberley Regional Court. The court found that he had concluded three lease agreements with JP Hugo Trading, amounting to more than R13m, without following proper PFMA prescripts and procurement processes. The lease was for accommodation for nursing students.

The court sentenced Theys to a fine of R150 000 or three years’ imprisonment, of which R100 000 or two years’ imprisonment was suspended for five years, on condition that he is not found guilty of the same offence during the time of suspension. The fine is payable to the Clerk of the Court as follows: R10 000 should be paid before or on September 7, and after that R2 000 should be paid before or on the seventh of each consecutive months until the fine is fully paid up.

A few days later, on August 24, Theys, was arrested and charged with the theft of PPE funds.

Despite the criminal charges against them, both retained their jobs and that infuriated Dikgetsi and other political parties such as the DA and Freedom Front Plus in the Northern Cape.

“In one day, 13 September 2023, two major events happened at the two most significant Northern Cape provincial administration departments, the Departments of Health and Education.

“At the Department of Education, the premier directly intervenes, using his legislative powers, to summarily ‘redeploy’ the HOD without specifics of where to and who will ‘act’ in her position at the department.

“She (Marais-Martin) is ‘redeployed’ on some allegations whose integrity has not been investigated. She is known to be a professional, ethical, and not corrupt HOD. This has reflected some misogynistic undertones and unfairness.

“At the Department of Health, the premier does not intervene directly by using the same powers. Instead, he uses the MEC of the department (Maruping Lekwene) to laterally ‘redeploy’, within the same department, a criminally convicted HOD who is again standing trial on another separate charge.

“He was convicted earlier this year for contravention of the PFMA, rearrested in August 2023 and is currently on trial for another corruption case. The corruption-accused CFO of the same Department of Health is also ‘redeployed’ to another department within the provincial administration.

“The pair have not been suspended despite running between the courts and the department,” Dikgetsi said.

He said in terms of the SMS Handbook, the power to appoint, redeploy, suspend or fire HODs rests with the premier, saying “Why is he applying double standards to different HODs on the same day?

“It is widely known in the capital city, Kimberley, that his friends were unlawfully awarded Covid-19 PPE tenders, for which the HOD and CFO of health are now standing trial.

“Is the premier buying the silence of these two specific officials? Did he give them the instruction to appoint his friend’s companies? If not, why is he so soft on the two HOD and CFO males but acts firmly against a female HOD on untested allegations? Something is fishy,” Dikgetsi said.

He said upon Saul’s election in 2019, he promised to move mountains to fix considerable problems in these two departments, saying he vouched to open small offices in these two departments to ensure effective service delivery. But now things have taken a turn for the worse.

“In his own bloated but ineffective office are 38 Levels 13 to 16 officials. This is the country’s most expensive premier’s office, per capita. One deputy director-general (Steven Jonkers) faces corruption in an ongoing trial but is at work. The director-general position has had an acting incumbent for three (3) years. The premier is running an animal farm where corruption and maladministration are rewarded.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa must take note and demand accountability from his political ally, Zamani Saul. The ‘Thuma Mina’ renewal project is a sham,” Dikgetsi said.

The premier’s office had not responded at the time of going to press.