Mathale welcomed as premier

Alex Matlala

Alex Matlala

The eradication of poverty and improving skills in rural Limpopo would be the top priority for the new government under the leadership of ANC provincial chairperson Cassel Mathale.

This is was said by ANC provincial secretary Joe Maswanganyi during a welcoming function for Mathale as the new premier.

Maswanganyi said Mathale had the daunting task of fighting poverty through the creation of jobs and improvement of skills among thousands of rural villagers in the five districts of the province.

Mathale has been acting premier since Sello Moloto resigned.

Speaking to Sowetan soon after the appointment, Mathale said the new-look cabinet would comprise people who had the interests of all at heart and who "sing the same song" of mass service delivery.

He said he believed in teamwork and that his government would ensure it delivered a better life for all.

Mathale will be the third premier of Limpopo under the ANC, since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

Born in 1961 in Dan Village near Tzaneen, he married Mokgadi Kgotloane, who is set to become Limpopo's first lady.

Mathale's parents wanted him to become a doctor or lawyer. But buoyed by the 1980s youth slogans of "liberation first, education later" he opted for politics.

He belonged to the crop of youths that formed the militant Mohlaba Youth Organisation, which was affiliated to the UDF in 1984.

He became a leader in Limpopo's local and provincial politics, which at the time had three homelands. The homeland authorities harassed anyone they saw as "enemies" of the apartheid state.

He became the first president and later chairperson of the Azanian Students Organisation while studying at Tivumbeni College of Education in Nkowankowa.

He was arrested for organising the college student body, from which he was later expelled. The following year he rejoined the struggle alongside Javu Mahlangu, Peter Mokaba and Ngoako Ramalepe.

In 1986, he was part of the group that initiated the National Youth Organisation, a forerunner of the SA Youth Congress in Limpopo.

Mathale was arrested again in 1989 during the state of emergency and served nearly a year in jail.

In 1990, he was behind bars again, under the notorious Section 29 of the Internal Security Act.

Mathale will be inaugurated soon after the inauguration of ANC president Jacob Zuma.