Zille adds two women to Western Cape cabinet

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille on Wednesday added two new female faces to her provincial cabinet, although white people and males still tip the scales at the helm of the Democratic Alliance-led (DA) province.

The new members of her cabinet are University of the Western Cape academic Nomafrench Mbombo, who will take up the portfolio of cultural affairs and sport, and former member of Parliament Debbie Schafer, who will take care of the education portfolio. Schafer replaces Donald Grant, who has been moved to the transport and public works portfolio.

Other changes include the shift of Alan Winde, from MEC for finance and economic development to the newly created post of agriculture and economic development, while Ivan Meyer will take up the new stand-alone post of finance.

Theuns Botha, Anton Bredell, Bonginkosi Madikizela, Dan Plato and Albert Fritz will remain in their respective portfolios of health, local government, environmental affairs and development planning, human settlements, community safety and social development.

Robin Carlisle, former MEC for transport and public works, who is retiring, and Gerrit van Rensburg, former MEC for agriculture, will exit the cabinet.

Earlier in the day, Zille was re-elected Western Cape premier at the provincial legislature.

While two women, one of whom is black, have been added and coloured men feature more prominently, this may not be enough to appease critics, who have argued previously that Zille’s preferred candidates are a slap in the face of transformation.

But the appointments of ministers who have proven their worth and delivered on their mandates justified the premier’s choices, all of which are based on merit, said Zille’s spokesperson Michael Mpofu.

In a statement announcing her cabinet, Zille said it was “essential to retain continuity, experience and institutional knowledge in the provincial Cabinet”.

“At the same time it is important to introduce fresh thinking and new ideas, so that we can continue to improve the way we govern,” she said.

Union federation Cosatu in the Western Cape in 2009 took Zille to court over the selection of her cabinet, but the case was reportedly settled out of court.

In a statement released ahead of the cabinet’s announcement, Cosatu’s Western Cape provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich threatened to take Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille to the Equality Court if they breached a previous out-of-court settlement undertaking to employ more black people and women.

“We are going to be taking Zille and De Lille to the Equality Court for contempt of court for the last court agreement that followed the Cosatu out-of-court settlement with the DA on the question of equality and equity,” said Ehrenreich.

Calls to Ehrenreich requesting further comment were not answered.

But Mpofu said the premier is unfazed by the threat of court, as it was not the first time it has been done.


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