weak mecs axed

Alfred Moselakgomo, Sakhile Mokoena and Riot Hlatshwayo

As part of his cabinet reshuffle, Mpumalanga premier Thabang Makwetla has axed two under-performing MECs and replaced them with people who had been fired by his predecessors.

Former education MEC David Mabuza, who made headlines over the first Mpumalanga matric results scandal during former Mathews Phosa's premiership, has been brought back to head the roads and transport department.

Mabuza, an influential member of the ANC in the province, was fired by Phosa when the SABC's Special Assignment exposed his involvement in the 1998 matric results bribery scandal.

Examiners at the time recommended that the generally low marks scored be moderated by adding up to 60 marks. This led to an increase of between 15 and 20 percentage points in some subjects' results.

As a result, then head of department Faith Sithole was fired by Mabuza's successor Craig Padayachee.

But Padayachee did not last long, as he was also fired after offering Sithole a R2,6million golden handshake.

Padayachee, an ANC provincial executive committee member, has also made a comeback.

This time he has been tasked with heading the department of economic development and planning.

Sports, culture and recreation MEC Nomsa Mtsweni and her MEC for health Pogisho Pasha, have been fired and have as a result been reduced to mere backbenchers in the provincial legislature.

Economic development and planning MEC William Lubisi has been moved to health and social services, while local government MEC Jabu Mahlangu takes over as the new MEC for sports, culture and recreation.

Dina Pule has been moved from safety and security to agriculture, replacing Madala Masuku, who takes over public works.

Ironically, Pule is not popular in the farming industry, having been repeatedly accused by many farmers of failing to protect them from criminals who were believed to have targeted them.

Candith Mashego-Dlamini, previously MEC for public works, is now MEC for local government and housing, while the education and finance departments remain unchanged, with Siphosezwe Masango heading education and Mathulare Coleman the finance department.

Makwetla's spokesman, Ntime Skhosana, said the changes would not affect service delivery in the province.

"The premier and the ANC will, as they deem fit, deploy or redeploy resources and cadres in line with provincial priorities and the 2004 manifesto," Skhosana said.