Mashatile elected to lead Gauteng

The Gauteng provincial legislature on Tuesday elected African National Congress (ANC) provincial chairperson Paul Mashatile as its new premier.

”I announce Mr Paul Mashatile as the … premier of Gauteng,” said Judge Phineas Mojapelo.

Mashatile was elected at a special sitting of the legislature following the resignation of Mbhazima Shilowa.

Shilowa resigned out of protest against the decision by the ANC national executive committee (NEC) to remove former president Thabo Mbeki from office.

Mashatile, who was provincial minister of finance and economic affairs during Shilowa’s tenure, was the ANC’s preferred candidate to take over from Shilowa, who was criticised by the ruling party for publicly disagreeing with its decision.

Shilowa and his predecessor, Tokyo Sexwale, were present at the ceremony.

Mashatile, who will celebrate his 47th birthday on October 21, made news headlines in 2006 when he spent nearly R100 000 on a dinner at the posh Auberge Michel restaurant in Sandton. He used his government credit card to entertain colleagues from the economics and treasury departments and the Gauteng Shared Services Centre.

However, his office dismissed suggestions that there was anything untoward about his R96 000 post-budget speech dinner bill.

Mashatile reportedly spent more than R250 000 on restaurant bills in the five months from February to June in 2006.

He is a long-time ANC member who was detained without trial under the state of emergency from 1985 to 1989 and has held several positions in the ruling party.

He was the minister for housing in Gauteng between 1999 and 2004, and the provincial minister for transport and public works from 1996 to 1999.

Mashatile is married with two sons and two daughters.

Last week, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), of which Shilowa was a former general secretary, lashed out at him.

Cosatu welcomed his resignation and said he must leave office immediately.

”We believe that we can’t entrust ill-disciplined cadres with the responsibility of being the guardians of the state resources.”

It was ”unacceptable” that Shilowa said he would find it difficult to defend the decision of the NEC of the ANC to remove Mbeki from office.

”We do not take kindly to his continuous criticism of that decision to recall Thabo Mbeki … He does not have any authority to lambaste the ANC NEC decision in public,” Cosatu said.

In announcing his resignation, Shilowa had said: ”I am resigning due to my convictions that while the ANC has the right to recall any of its deployed cadres, the decision needs to be based on solid facts, be fair and just.

”I also did not feel that I will be able to, with conviction, publicly explain or defend the NEC’s decision on comrade Thabo Mbeki.

”You stand by your own if you think they’ve been wrongly dealt with. I’m doing no more than that,” he added. — Sapa

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Fienie Grobler
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