Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla restored two controversial politicians to his Cabinet this week, amid claims that he is rewarding political favours.
Senior ANC provincial executive committee members, who did not want to be named, said Makwetla’s reinstatement of David Mabuza and Craig Padayachee was a way of repaying favours that helped him to become the ANC’s provincial leader in 2004.
Two ‘underperformingâ€ ministers were axed to make space for them.
Makwetla’s spokesperson, Ntime Skosana, said the claims were unfounded rumours and unworthy of comment.
‘The reshuffle is derived from the midterm review based on politicians’ performance,â€ Skosana said.
‘The premier has assembled a team that he feels will meet the service delivery deadlines set out in the 2004 ANC election manifesto.â€
Mabuza was sacked from the Cabinet in 1998 in the fallout from South Africa’s biggest matric exam-rigging scandal and again in 2001 when he failed to impress as sports MEC.
Appointed this week to the powerful roads and transport portfolio, he will award and manage tenders worth almost R5-billion in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup as Mpumalanga upgrades its road and rail networks.
Padayachee, who lost his Cabinet seat in 2004 after a management scandal in the education department, was appointed minister of economic affairs.
He will oversee the province’s big-budget Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, both of which will play key roles in preparing the province for 2010.
The reshuffle caught politicians and government officials off balance, with a number of high-level policy and budgetary planning meetings being delayed or cancelled on Tuesday morning.
The biggest losers are former health minister Pogisho Pasha and culture minister Nomsa Mtsweni, who were demoted to the legislature’s back benches. Their salaries will drop from about R523 000 to R316 000 a year.
Other losers include Mpumalanga’s so-called ‘Mr Fix-Itâ€, Jabu Mahlangu, who was demoted from the local government portfolio to leadership of the under-budgeted and politically insignificant sports and culture department.
The outspoken provincial ANC deputy chairperson, Fish Mahlalela, was demoted from the roads and transport department to the toothless safety and security portfolio.
Economic Development Minister William Lubisi was shifted back to the troubled health department, which he headed until two years ago.
Ministers who benefited from the reshuffle include Dina Pule, who was promoted from safety and security to agriculture and land administration.
Former agriculture minister Madala Masuku was promoted to the public works department, which manages property, contracts and tenders worth billions of rands.
The only two provincial ministers to retain their portfolios were Siphosezwe Masango, who remains education minister, and Finance Minister Mathulare Coleman. — African Eye News Service