Balindlela speaks of the pain of dismissal

Axed Eastern Cape premier Nosimo Balindlela has told of her feelings of humiliation upon learning from the media of her recent sacking.

Now she wants nothing to do with government.

Balindlela was fired by the African National Congress last week and her last day as premier was Thursday.

“I learnt of my removal when a journalist phoned the night before I left for an official visit in China three weeks ago. I thought it was just media speculation and brushed it off,” she said in an interview at the weekend.

“I was shocked to read in South African newspapers quoting anonymous sources, saying I was fired as premier and people in China started asking questions. It was humiliating.”

Speaking to the South African Press Association on her Stutterheim farm, Balindlela said she was only told of her removal by the ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe last Friday.

Balindlela said she was not happy with the manner in which the ANC handled her removal.

“Information was leaked to the press with no attempt to actually call and inform me.
I was not given any opportunity to state my case as the law permits.”

She said Mantashe had admitted to her that there had been lapses in the way her removal was handled, but she said she harboured no bitterness.

When Mantashe finally told her, she was disturbed. The reason cited for her removal was lack of service delivery under her leadership.

“I expected them to give me a service delivery audit report and show me where I have failed. But they said ‘abantu bathi [people say] you have failed’,” Balindlela said.

“Honestly, I don’t think I have done that bad. I have served the people of the Eastern Cape with great passion and they love me.”

She later decided to resign from the provincial legislature too. Although she enjoyed support at grassroots level, she said her fellow ANC parliamentarians were “only too happy” to side with the opposition to vilify her.

“I felt very lonely and alone. The opposition had a field day as they would stand up and say ‘even your own people said so’,” said Balindlela.

“Together with the local media, they were campaigning to destroy me for all my four years as premier.”

It has been a thorny journey for Balindlela and it is no surprise that she refers to the end of her tenure as a relief.

“I am greatly relieved and at peace. I have no regrets and have forgiven all those who vilified me,” she said.

Walking around her farm barefoot and dressed in a traditional apron, Balindlela said she was now learning to drive a tractor and planned to help her husband Miniyakhe on their farm.

“Without my salary I will have to learn to scale down and live off my farm. I have been keeping a diary for 25 years and want to start writing a book about my life soon.”

Balindlela also plans to start a foundation for the poor in the province. She remains active in ANC structures.

In 1994 Balindlela was appointed as provincial education minister and five years later she became provincial sports minister before being appointed premier. - Sapa

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