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Paul Mashatile, the ANC's new Gauteng chairman, wants political stability

By unknown | Oct 12, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Newly-elected ANC provincial chairman Paul Mashatile, 46, says his major responsibility is to ensure political stability in a province regarded as the country's economic powerhouse.

It is estimated that Gauteng's economy generates 33percent of the country's gross domestic product.

"We need to create a stable environment that ensures sustainable economic growth. To achieve this we must deal with the issues of crime, massive migration into the province, housing shortages and the improvement of social amenities," says Mashatile.

He believes that as ruling party the ANC must have the vision to develop programmes that will meet these challenges.

To achieve this it must have strong, effective structures at all levels of society.

"We need cadres who will participate in local structures such as ward committees to ensure government programmes are in tandem with the needs of the people," he says.

Mashatile says a strong leadership with quality cadres is a sine qua non for effective government.

He is the first to admit that post-1994 there has been a decline in political involvement among ANC cadres.

He ascribes this to the fact that most ANC members left everything in the government's hands.

To redress this the ANC has come up with the Imvuselelo campaign - a multipronged plan that includes a massive recruitment drive and quality cadre development.

Gauteng has set itself a target of recruiting 100000 new members in the next three years.

"We are, however, not only looking at numbers but quality membership, hence the initiative to establish a political education school."

The objective is to have these cadres working within community structures to drive community development.

This, Mashatile points out, is in line with his party's vision of a developmental state.

Another important factor, Mashatile believes, is unity within the tripartite alliance.

With a strong ANC and united alliance he envisages, what does Mashatile see as the role of civil society outside the realm of the congress movement?

He believes a developing country like South Africa needs a strong civil society movement.

"It is my belief the government should contribute towards building a strong civil society to the extent of providing financial support for community-based organisations."

Mashatile is confident that the relationship between the ANC and the Gauteng provincial government will lead to the province becoming a globally competitive economic region.

Initiatives such as the Gauteng Development Agency, the R50billion infrastructure investment project, including Gautrain "are in line with the vision of the ANC".

He ascribes the smooth relationship to the fact that "most of the ANC leaders are also leaders in government".

For example, other government leaders voted into the new provincial executive committee include Mashatile's deputy, housing MEC Nomvula Mokonyana, MEC for public transport and public works Ignatius Jacobs, education MEC Angie Motshekga, MEC for social development Kgaugelo Lekgoro, local government MEC Dorothy Mahlangu, community safety MEC Firoz Cachalia, MEC for health Brian Hlongwa, sport, recreation, arts and culture MEC Barbara Creecy, MEC for agriculture and conservation Khabisi Mosunkutu and Tshwane's executive mayor Gwen Ramokgopa.

With this team of relatively young turks, Mashatile is confident his party will make Gauteng the leader in dealing with poverty and unemployment.

The team has something to build on.

"There is a decrease in unemployment from 28percent to 23percent. Our aim is to reduce it to 22percent by 2009. All we need do is accelerate the pace."

As an ANC cadre Mashatile has the political kudos to lead the province.

The former youth activist was involved in the first ANC structure established in the region after its unbanning in 1990, served as interim secretary of the SACP and the interim leadership structure of the ANC.

He is now the longest-serving provincial MEC, having held the transport and public works, safety and security, housing and now finance and economic affairs portfolios.

Mashatile is confident he will become the next premier.

"Although they do not want it to become automatic that the chairman becomes the premier, most members believe that the provincial leader should also become the leader of government," he says.

Mashatile's political profile is not without controversies.

His involvement in the controversial R12billion Soweto monorail project, last year's revelations that his department had hosted a R96000 post-budget dinner for more than 200 people at an exclusive French restaurant in Sandton, and his close relationship with Business Connexion, an IT company, have raised eyebrows.

Last year Mashatile revealed that in 2004 he was offered shares in Business Connexion, an offer he declined.

Another controversy around Mashatile is his relationship with Mike Maile, the current head of Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC), the province's tender and procurement agency.

Maile, who was appointed by Mashatile, is a director of Dibata Bata Investments, in which Mashatile has a 25percent stake.

The company, which focuses on mining and property is said to be currently dormant.

Earlier this year Mashatile and his colleague Gauteng MEC for transport and public works, Jacobs unveiled the multibillion-rand Soweto monorail project.

The move put them at loggerheads with Transport Minister Jeff Radebe. The project was subsequently put on ice.

This week Mashatile confirmed his involvement in the above issues.

He said, however, there was no impropriety on his part.


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