/ 21 February 2023

Sisi Ntombela to resign as Free State premier

Mec Freestate Sisi Ntombela
Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Sisi Ntombela is set to resign as Free State premier on Tuesday after consultations with ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula. 

On Tuesday, Mbalula told journalists he had received a call from Ntombela alerting him that she would tender her resignation. However, he said he had not seen the letter yet. 

Mbalula said the newly elected Free State provincial executive committee had taken a decision to restructure the government, after engagement with top ANC officials. 

“Those matters have now reached a conclusion. The national officials working with the province are processing that matter. We don’t want the government to be disrupted; we want a smooth process of transition where such interventions are made,” he said. 

Ntombela lost the race for provincial chair against Mxolisi Dukwana, an ally of President Cyril Ramaphosa

Earlier this month, the M&G reported that Dukwana topped the list of candidates the province had submitted to the ANC officials for consideration to replace Ntombela. 

Alongside Dukwana, provincial deputy secretary Dibolelo Mahlatsi and deputy chair Toto Makume have also emerged as preferred candidates for the job. The three were elected at the provincial conference in January. Dukwana received 346 votes for the chair position, while Ntombela garnered 303.

Dukwana previously held the position of convener of the interim structure appointed in May 2021 to run the province. In October that year, he was appointed member of the executive council for co-operative governance.

Ntombela, once an ally of former ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, has been accused of failing as Free State premier, including not being able to curb the culture of criminality in the province.

Under her administration, municipalities also failed to deliver services, with none of them getting clean audits in the past five years. 

The ANC in the Free State has been battling internal fighting, with those loyal to Magashule creating parallel structures.

But, on Tuesday, Mbalula sought to allay fears that the ANC in the province was in a state of crisis, saying the party was ready for any changes.

“We will, at an appropriate time, thank [Ntombela] for her service to the people of the Free State, and for her service to the people of this country, and for accepting the deployment of the ANC,” he said.

The ANC has in the past been known to recycle its leaders to parliament. Ntombela, who still wields some influence in the Free State, is likely to be redeployed to either the provincial legislature or the national assembly.