Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale has reshuffled his Cabinet, leaving some provincial ministers out in the cold.
Mathale fired provincial health minister Dikeledi Magadzi; provincial sports, arts and culture minister Joyce Mashamba, and provincial safety and security minister George Phadagi, it was announced on Tuesday night.
Magadzi’s department had been in the spotlight for incurring irregular and unauthorised expenditure. Mashamba was embroiled in controversy after her department hired her son without qualifications some years ago.
Phadagi came into office in 2010. His appointment at the time was seen as Mathale’s way of balancing his Cabinet by including a Tshivenda-speaking member.
Mathale appointed four new provincial ministers.
Magadzi, who was among a faction that contested Mathale’s re-election in December last year, was replaced by Norman Mabasa from the South African Medical Association.
ANC provincial secretary Soviet Lekganyane stepped down as provincial traditional affairs department minister. He was replaced by Clifford Motsepe.
ANC provincial deputy secretary and Vhembe mayor Florence Dzombere took over Phadagi’s department.
Provincial economic development, tourism and environmental affairs minister Pitsi Moloto was moved to roads and transport, swapping with Pinky Kekana.
Kekana’s former department was being investigated by the Hawks and public protector over a multi-million tender awarded to a company linked to expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
It was among the five Limpopo government departments placed under administration by President Jacob Zuma last year.
Also making his debut as provincial minister was ANC Veterans Association chairperson Jacob Maruel, who takes over the agriculture department, previously headed by Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.
Letsatsi-Duba was moved to the sport and culture department.
The Democratic Alliance said the reshuffle was Mathale’s last chance to demonstrate his seriousness about improving his government’s performance.
“[We] will continue to engage with the [provincial ministers] constructively to make sure that service delivery is improved for the people of Limpopo,” DA spokesperson Desiree van der Walt said.
While congratulating the new provincial minister, Van der Walt expressed disappointment, particularly that the critically important education department continued to be led by Dickson Masemola.
“This is notwithstanding the fact that this department has been very badly managed under him, with the latest casualties being our learners not receiving their learning materials.
“We would have hoped that the premier would have seized this opportunity and restored this department for the betterment of our education.”
Van der Walt was also not confident that Moloto possessed the “political gravitas” to turn things around.
She welcomed the sacking of both Mashamba and Phagadi, saying their performance had been “lacklustre”.
Dzombere’s elevation to safety and security “beggars belief”.
“It is an indisputable fact that Vhembe’s management is way below acceptable standards,” said Van der Walt.
“The question that remains to be answered is what leadership record she is supposedly bringing in this new role.”
Van der Walt raised concern at Magadzi’s removal, saying she had shown dedication and worked hard. — Sapa