Newly installed KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has unveiled the province’s new-look cabinet, bringing in several new — and younger — faces to key portfolios while retaining several long-serving MECs in his executive.
Announcing his cabinet choices in Pietermaritzburg on Monday, Zikalala introduced five brand new MECs:
- Sipho Hlomuka — cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta)
- Kwazi Mshengu — education
- Nonhlanhla Khoza — social development
- Hlengiwe Mavimbela — sport
- Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu — health
Hlomuka is the deputy secretary of the ANC in the province while Mshengu, the chair of the ANC Youth League in KwaZulu-Natal, served as head of ministry under Zikalala during his term as KZN economic development MEC.
Khoza is the secretary of the ANC Women’s League in the province and Simelane-Zulu served as the ANC’s provincial spokesperson while a member of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.
Nomusa Dube-Ncube was appointed as MEC of economic development, despite the allegations of impropriety levelled against her over the business relationships between her husband’s companies and municipalities under Cogta.
Ravi Pillay was appointed as finance MEC, replacing Belinda Scott, who was not re-appointed to cabinet, along with other former MECs Themba Mthembu (agriculture); Sibongiseni Dhlomo (health) and Mthandeni Dlungwana (education).
Peggy Nkonyeni, former MEC and speaker who was removed from office in 2016 in a cabinet reshuffle that followed a change in the ANC provincial leadership in 2015, has made a comeback as the new public works MEC.
The only MEC to continue in the same portfolio is public safety and transport MEC Mxolisi Kaunda, who was appointed in the 2016 reshuffle and re-appointed by Zikalala.
Zikalala said that the province would focus on a series of key priorities, including job creation, SMME development and the provision of basic services and education. He added that a basic audit of all departments to identify problems and ways of improving performance would be conducted.
Zikalala said his administration would not tolerate corruption and committed it to transparency.
“This administration will tighten the fight against corruption which robs the vulnerable and poorest of the poor of services and opportunities. We will ensure that all cases of corruption are dealt with expeditiously and further ensure transparency in the work of government, especially the procurement processes. The abuse of political or administrative powers must not, and will not, be tolerated,” he said.
He said an immediate priority would be in ensuring that basic water supply was provided throughout the province — a clear response to the series of protests which rocked the province ahead of the elections and on voting day.
While the ANCYL said it was ‘pleased’ with the composition of the cabinet, the Democratic Alliance was unimpressed, accusing Zikalala of appointing a ‘desperate’ executive which was ‘hastily cobbled together’ by the party in the face of electoral losses in the province on May 8.