MEC for housing in Gauteng Ntombi Mekgwe is set to be appointed Gauteng premier – ending one of the tense processes to find the head of the provincial government. Mekgwe’s name was submitted along with two others: provincial secretary David Makhura and education MEC Barbara Creecy.
The ANC is expected to appoint six men and two women to head the eight provinces the party won in this month’s election. Only Gauteng and Northern Cape will have women premiers, after provincial party leaders fought for their place at the top.
The ANC will only make an official announcement on the premiers at a press briefing this afternoon, but Mail & Guardian sources within the party’s national executive committee (NEC) have shared names agreed upon at Monday’s special NEC meeting.
The new premiers are likely to be Mekgwe for Gauteng, Phumulo Masualle for Eastern Cape and Supra Mahumapelo for North West. The ruling party is expected to retain five premiers: Stan Mathabatha in Limpopo, David Mabuza in Mpumalanga, Ace Magashule in Free State, Sylvia Lucas in Northern Cape, and Senzo Mchunu in KwaZulu-Natal.
Gender balancing act
All the five male premier candidates are the party’s provincial chairpersons in their respective provinces and Mekgwe is Gauteng’s provincial treasurer. The ANC’s attempt to do a gender balancing act was less successful this time around, unlike in 2009 where Eastern Cape, North West, Northern Cape and Gauteng were given female premiers against their wishes.
Noxolo Kiviet led Eastern Cape, Maureen Modiselle had a one-year stint as North West premier, Gauteng was led by Nomvula Mokonyane and Hazel Jenkins was Northern Cape premier until she left the position because of ill-health.
The ANC appoints premiers from three names submitted by the party’s provincial leaders, though in the past the national leadership has over-ruled some province’s preferences.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe told the media on Monday night that the ANC would be gender sensitive in its appointments. Beeld reported on Tuesday that Mantashe said: “We accepted two important principles today [Monday]. First is that in each province if there is a man appointed premier, there has to be a female speaker.” All legislatures must also have 50% of women in their executive councils, according to reports.
The M&G has learnt that Mokonyane could be the new speaker of the Gauteng provincial legislature or even be appointed a Cabinet minister. The ANC in Gauteng would have preferred its provincial secretary Makhura to be premier, but party sources said Mekgwe was a welcome compromise because of the good relationship she enjoys with top provincial leaders.
ANC Northern Cape chairperson John Block, though the province’s first preference for the premier position, has been overlooked twice because of fraud and corruption charges he faces. All the provinces will officially elect their premiers on Wednesday once all members of provincial legislatures have been sworn in.