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Mixed reactions to cabinet reshuffle

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“In the meantime, the HOD for Health, Steven Jonkers, who is the real elephant in the room, remains untouchable.”

Syvia Lucas

OPPOSITION parties in the Northern Cape have greeted last week’s provincial cabinet reshuffle with mixed reaction despite hopes that the move would assist in stamping out fraud and corruption in local government.

On Friday, DA MPL Isak Fritz said that the new cabinet was likely to do more harm than good, particularly in the public health sector, after Lebogang Motlhaping was removed as MEC for Health and replaced by Fufe Makatong.

“We view this as a superficial attempt by the premier to make it look as if she is tackling the problems of the Health Department,” Fritz said, adding that Motlhaping was initially deployed to this position when his predecessor, Mac Jack, started investigating alleged corruption within the department.

“Now, just as Motlhaping has familiarised himself with the significant health challenges of this Province, he is also whisked away to another department.

“In the meantime, the HOD for Health, Steven Jonkers, who is the real elephant in the room, remains untouchable.”

Fritz stated that the reshuffle added to the DA’s suspicions that Jonkers is holding Premier Sylvia Lucas to ransom, and predicted that the department would continue on a course of decline as long as Jonkers is HOD.

“The DA challenges the premier to deal with Jonkers,” Fritz concluded. “Until then, all the cabinet reshuffles and internal departmental reshuffles in the world will not solve the magnitude of problems faced by the Health Department. “

The Freedom Front Plus welcomed the reshuffle in the hope that a change in MECs would breathe new life into some Northern Cape communities.

“The FF Plus congratulates the new MEC for Co-operative Government, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs in the Northern Cape, Bentley Vass, on his appointment,” said the party’s provincial leader, Wynand Boshoff.

Boshoff pointed out that the new MEC takes a highly neglected portfolio on his shoulders.

“Local government in the Northern Cape is nearly falling apart,” said Boshoff, adding that electricity interruptions, due to unpaid municipal accounts to Eskom, and water interruptions, due to poor maintenance, were the norm rather than the exception in parts of the Province.

“Then there are problems like excessive property tax on agricultural land in Emtanjeni (De Aar, Hanover and Britstown),” said Boshoff.

“Over and above these, the so-called TRANCRAA-territories (traditional communities like Komaggas, Concordia, Steinkopf, Pella and Eksteenkuil) have been fighting for years to have their uniqueness recognised.

“These issues were less important to Vass’ predecessor, Alvin Botes, than his own political survival.”

While Cosatu welcomed the inclusion of Vass and Makatong, the federation’s provincial spokesperson, Anele Gxoyiya, pointed out that their appointments fell short of the provincial conference resolution to accommodate four officials.

“We congratulate the two comrades and declare our unwavering support to them to ensure that they succeed in implementing the ANC resolutions to the benefit of the people of the Northern Cape,” Gxoyiya said.

“The fact that it has taken so long to implement a simple conference resolution and the premier has herself confirmed that this takes place after protracted discussions, shows that there has been a high level of undermining of the provincial leadership of the ANC and the alliance by the premier.

“It also confirms our long held view that she has been central in the failed attempts to question the legitimacy of this democratically elected leadership collective through courts of law.”

Gxoyiya further called on the party’s provincial executive to ensure that deployees are closely monitored and be held accountable for ill-discipline.

“The behaviour of the premier sets an unacceptable precedence that deployees of the ANC can defy the organisation at any given time, which is a flawed attitude that must be condemned with the contempt that it deserves.”