Mathale remains Limpopo premier until legislature sitting

"What he has done … is write a letter of resignation to the speaker. The legislature has to have a sitting, in which… they will confirm his resignation," provincial government spokesperson Tebatso Mabitsela said on Monday.

Earlier on Monday, Mathale announced he had handed in his resignation as premier of the Limpopo government after the ANC told him he was being "redeployed".

Mabitsela explained that procedurally, a resignation letter is submitted to speaker Rudolph Phala. A special sitting of the legislature is then called, and the legislature either elects a candidate it has already identified from within, or it can enlist a new member, who is then sworn in as premier.

"He has resigned, but he continues as premier until his resignation his confirmed," said Mabitsela.

Because of the separation of powers, he could not say when the special sitting would be held.

Neither Phala nor his assistant were immediately available for further details.

In a statement earlier, Mathale said: "This is to inform the public that I have handed a letter of resignation as the premier of Limpopo provincial government and as a member of the provincial legislature to the speaker.

"This is in line with the decision of the African National Congress to recall me as the premier of Limpopo province.

"As a loyal and disciplined member of the [ANC] for more than 30 years I have since complied with the decision."

ANC culture and traditions
Mathale said his "redeployment" was consistent with the ANC's culture and tradition.

He was appointed premier on May 9 2009.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed Monday's developments and said they were in line with its own unsuccessful efforts at having a debate on a motion of no confidence in Mathale held in the legislature. "All the efforts to block the DA's motion in the legislature have proved meaningless, as today's move effectively is in agreement with the DA's long-held position," said Desiree van der Walt, the DA's Limpopo legislature caucus leader.

"Mr Mathale's track record in government is so poor that he should have been shown the door a long time ago," she said.

"He oversaw a very corrupt governance in Limpopo, with unfettered squandering of public money. Five departments were placed under administration under him because budgets were abused.

"Furthermore, learners in the province had to endure difficult academic months because textbooks were not delivered on time."

Political party reactions
Meanwhile, Inkatha Freedom Party chief whip Koos van der Merwe on Monday said the party hoped the recent "spate" of resignations and the Cabinet reshuffle were a sign the ANC was taking a tougher stand against corruption, abuse of state monies, and incompetence.

Congress of the People acting provincial chairperson Patrick Sikhutshi said the resignation was "long overdue", and called on members of Mathale's executive council to also resign.

"Should they resign on their own accord, it will go a long way in trying to restore the credibility to their leadership, which is long being damaged," he said.

President Jacob Zuma's spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the president did not appoint premiers and he did not know at that stage if the president had been informed.

In his statement, Mathale listed his achievements during his term of office. These included improving the matric pass rate, building 63 123 houses and 15 bridges, providing 1.2-million households with water and electricity, and expanding access to antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV.

'Un-ANC behaviour'
He acknowledged there were still problems, but did not mention that in December 2011 five provincial government departments were placed under administration because of allegations of corruption and gross violation of the Public Finance Management Act.

He also did not mention the scandal in 2012 when it was found that textbooks for certain grades had not been delivered to schools.

Mathale was removed as ANC provincial chairperson in April, when the party's national executive committee decided to disband the provincial executive committee.

It did so because of "un-ANC behaviour and institutionalised factional conduct". It was replaced by an ANC provincial task team.

Mathale said in his statement that, contrary to perceptions, he and the provincial government had acted against corruption and had not interfered with investigations.

'Thank you and goodbye'
"At no stage have we attempted to derail or delay any process of investigation or disciplining any irregular conduct," he said.

"Under all material conditions, we have never sought to channel or redirect state resources to pursue any agenda except the noble cause of realising the pledges made to our people.

"Therefore, I also leave the office of the premier with my conscience clean that I have never done anything unlawful and un-ANC … Thank you and goodbye."

Meanwhile, the ANC thanked Cassel Mathale for his leadership role as premier of Limpopo.

"Since his election in 2009, comrade Mathale has executed the mandate bestowed upon the African National Congress by the people of Limpopo with dedication and commitment," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said after Mathale's statement that the party had decided to "recall" him.

"The ANC expresses its gratitude to him for the leadership role he played as head of the provincial executive, thus today leaving behind a prosperous, thriving and stable province, notwithstanding some of the challenges experienced in recent times."

The party said it looked forward to working with Mathale in future and was confident that the provincial legislature would fill his post quickly to ensure no disruptions in governance.

'Mathale was … an embarrassment'
In earlier reaction, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said the ANC had shown "decisive leadership" by recalling him.

"This is a significant step by the African National Congress to ensure unity inside the movement, and also in restoring people's confidence in the movement and government," Nehawu provincial chairperson Mike Shingange said.

"Without being triumphalists, our union is happy to see that the ANC has at long last endorsed our view that Mr Mathale was a liability and an embarrassment to our movement and government."

The union described Mathale as a "divisive" figure who had encouraged factionalism and invited foreign tendencies into the ruling party and the provincial government. – Sapa

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