It was very lonely at the top, says sbu ndebele

MOVING ON: Sbu Ndebele is heading for Parliament after the elections. 18/04/09. © Sowetan.
MOVING ON: Sbu Ndebele is heading for Parliament after the elections. 18/04/09. © Sowetan.

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Outgoing KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele said yesterday that the premiership had been the "most lonely" path he had walked as a political leader.

He said he had to "form" a government on his own.

Ndebele appears to be back in favour in provincial ANC circles after almost being sidelined for supporting former president Thabo Mbeki.

He had to walk this path not once but for two terms as premier of the province.

Ndebele yesterday addressed the media in Durban for the last time as premier, ahead of Wednesday'sgeneral elections.

Thereafter he will become a member of Parliament.

He said some of the decisions he had taken while he was premier "were not easy".

"Being the premier has been one of the most loneliest part of my job as a leader, especially when I had to appoint MECs.

"It was difficult in the sense that I had to select a few from my own colleagues, as well as accommodating the alliance partners and other parties we had formed a coalition with, such as the Minority Front," he said.

Ndebele, who is ranked among the first 50 members in the ANC's national list, said he had to take a principled decision to axe IFP MECs Inkosi Nyanga Ngubane and Blessed Gwala in 2006 after the party had "ganged" up against the ANC in municipalities in Umhlathuze and Amajuba.

"This decision was taken after the IFP decided not to play the game but the man," he said.

"Also, the inclusion of Amichand Rajbansi (MEC for sports and recreation) was a principled decision because they needed the support of the UDM to gain full control of the provincial legislature," he said.

Ndebele said he was looking forward to the new challenge of being an MP.

"It is going to be quite a new experience for me to be sworn in as Member of Parliament and I am looking forward to it," he said.

Ndebele said he was proud of the province's achievements during his tenure.

"I leave KwaZulu-Natal a very satisfied person, as a politician and a leader. Also the transition in the ANC was smooth, from deputising for Jacob Zuma to finally taking over.

"It has been great for me. I am leaving a good foundation, a great legacy and I am thrilled that I am leaving the province in the capable hands of Zweli [Mkhize]," he said.

Ndebele's tenure as premier also resulted in significant investment in the province and he said he was confident that the eMacambini multimillion-rand project with a Dubai consortium would go ahead.

"It would be of grave concern if we had to lose such a big investment.

"It is not often that you find investors begging to invest in your area.

"People must know that when development of any sort takes place, things and people are affected or moved.

"I actually experienced the same problem when we wanted to construct the N2. Some people were opposed to it, but we stood firm and the N2 is there today and nobody is complaining," Ndebele said.

"And I can safely say that no one from Macambini can complain that they were not compensated accordingly when we constructed the road," he said.

Ndebele has been rated best premier in South Africa in an Ipsos Markinor Poll rating government leadership in the country.

Seventy-three percent of people registered to vote rated Ndebele's performance as "very well" or "fairly well".

The premiers of Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West and Eastern Cape all received less than 50 percent.