mkhize is KZN boss

Canaan Mdletshe

Newly-elected KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize yesterday promised the province's people service delivery that would ensure a better life for them.

Speaking in Pietermaritzburg after being sworn in as premier, Mkhize showered his predecessor Sbu Ndebele with praises. "I wish to thank former premier Sbu Ndebele for a job well done."

To other members of the provincial legislature, Mkhize said: "I know that I can count on the support of all members of this house. Together we will work on the government's agenda and priorities in the coming five years - improving service delivery, fighting poverty, unemployment, crime and corruption, promoting rural development and revamping our health and education systems."

He also thanked the people of KwaZulu-Natal for coming out in large numbers to vote for the ANC.

"I wish to thank all the people of this province who voted and renewed their confidence and mandate in our government. Their enthusiasm was demonstrated in long, patient queues to record one of the highest voter turnouts in the history of our democracy. We also pay tribute to our alliance partners who helped us to achieve this electoral victory," he said.

ANC supporters broke into the popular song Awuleth'umshini wami after provincial Deputy Judge President Phil Levingson announced the results of the premiership election. The election was overwhelmingly won by Mkhize. His nomination had to go through secret ballot after the DA sprung a surprise with the counter nomination of their candidate John Steenhuisen.

Mkhize scored a resounding 68 votes in the 80-member legislature. Steenhuisen only scored seven and there were four spoilt votes. The process was monitored by the IEC.

The result indicates that some IFP members might have voted for Mkhize because, according to last month's elections, the ANC won 51 seats, the IFP 18, the DA 7, the MF 2 and Cope and the UDM each won a seat.

Mkhize was sworn in as the fifth premier of KwaZulu-Natal since the advent of democracy.

Former health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni was elected the new provincial Speaker, a position previously held by Willies Mchunu. Mkhize also defended the election of Nkonyeni as Speaker of the legislature.

"She is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law, so there's no need for anyone to raise eyebrows about her nomination," he said.

Nkonyeni faces charges of corruption relating to the procurement of medical equipment.