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Surprise NC cabinet reshuffle

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Premier Sylvia Lucas stated that the new MECs would assume their positions with immediate effect

Director General Justice Bekebeke and the premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Lucas.

A SURPRISE provincial cabinet reshuffle took place yesterday afternoon shortly after the MEC for Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta), Alvin Botes, announced his resignation as a Member of the Provincial Legislature.

Premier Sylvia Lucas stated that the new MECs would assume their positions with immediate effect.

ANC deputy chairperson Bentley Vass will replace Botes as MEC for Coghsta, while ANC provincial treasurer Fufe Makatong will be appointed as the new MEC for Health.

The previous MEC for Health, Lebogang Motlhaping, will be the new MEC for Transport, Safety and Liaison, with that department’s previous MEC, Pauline Williams, taking over as the MEC for Environmental Affairs and Nature Conservation.

Tiny Chotelo, the previous MEC for Environmental Affairs and Nature Conservation, will return as a Member of the Provincial Legislature.

ANC provincial spokesperson Naledi Gaosekwe indicated that as former Member of Parliament Patrick Mabilo, whose name was missing from the reshuffle list, is still unemployed, the ANC would continue paying his salary.

Lucas stated that the cabinet shake-up was in line with placing the top five officials in the ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) into the provincial cabinet.

“The rest of the MECs will remain in their portfolios. It is expected that these MECs, with their respective departments, will remain committed to ensuring a competent administration that will allow for a seamless transition next year after the election.”

She pointed out that the premier was at liberty to deploy and recall her cabinet at any given time.

“It would be wrong to say that the reshuffle was decided upon based on performance. After protracted discussions with the top five officials of the Provincial Executive Committee as well as the national officials of the ANC, I have taken the decision to make changes to the provincial cabinet. The provincial elective conference signals a new era for the ANC as well as government. This decision was further spurred on by the resignation of the MEC for Coghsta, Alvin Botes, who is awaiting his deployment to the National Assembly.”

Lucas expressed her initial reluctance to release Botes from the Province.

“He was one of our best performing MECs. I realised that we want the best people to represent us and I agreed in the end to let him go.

“Comrade Alvin has always been a disciplined person, both in office and in his personal capacity. He contributed immensely to the development of the Northern Cape and its people in the portfolio he served with distinction. It is during his tenure that the Northern Cape became the recipient of R500 million from under-performing provinces on the human settlements grant that enabled extensive housing development in our Province. He was and I believe will always be a true servant of the people and his beloved ANC.”

Lucas also stated that they are working towards bringing greater stability to the Department of Health.

She denied that the Department of Health had ever been placed under administration.

“We wanted to deploy Steven Jonkers as a finance administrator at the department. However, based on his experience, he was instead appointed as the HOD for Health. We sent a team from the Department of Social Development to help them put a system in place, as there were problems with supply chain management as well as issues of financial accountability. There are still some outstanding issues that need to be addressed.”

Lucas added that she had spoken to Jonkers about the reshuffle at the department, where he had indicated that he wanted to place capable persons in positions where they could serve “to the best of their abilities” and to ensure stability at the Department of Health.

Lucas believed that the Department of Health was improving on its audit outcomes, after 10 years of being awarded disclaimers from the auditor-general.