New premiers take up office

NO HARD FEELINGS: Outgoing Gauteng premier Paul Mashatile embraces new premier Nomvula Mokonyane. 06/05/09. Pic. Peter Mogaki. © Sowetan.
NO HARD FEELINGS: Outgoing Gauteng premier Paul Mashatile embraces new premier Nomvula Mokonyane. 06/05/09. Pic. Peter Mogaki. © Sowetan.

Zukile Majova, Elisha Molefe and Sapa

Zukile Majova, Elisha Molefe and Sapa

The complete overhaul of South Africa's provincial governance got under way yesterday, with all the nine provinces ushering in new premiers.

This marks a completely new era of provincial governance, with none of the premiers appointed by former president Thabo Mbeki returning to office.

In Western Cape, DA leader Helen Zille sauntered into office as the new premier of the province following her party's victory over the ANC during the elections.

The ANC had proposed former premier Lynne Brown but Zille took the vote by 24 to 14.

The DA has 22 seats in the legislature compared to the ANC's 14 seats, while Cope, the Independent Democrats and the African Christian Democratic Party share the remaining six.

ANC president Jacob Zuma's confidant Zweli Mkhize became KwaZulu-Natal's the fifth premier since 1994.

He told the 80-member legislature his government's priorities over the next five years would be improving service delivery, fighting poverty, unemployment, crime and corruption. Mkhize is the second ANC premier after Sbu Ndebele in the province, with the previous three - Frank Mdlalose, Ben Ngubane and Lionel Mtshali - being from the IFP.

When announcing his cabinet on Monday, Mkhize is expected to break with the tradition of inviting members of the opposition to his administration.

Since 1994, the ruling party has invited their political foes into the cabinet to encourage peace and stability in the once volatile province.

But ANC/IFP relations soured towards the end of Ndebele's administration, leading to the IFP withdrawing from all cabinet seats.

Former Gauteng housing MEC Nomvula Mokonyane was sworn in yesterday with her former challenger, outgoing premier Paul Mashatile, having nominated her.

Lindiwe Maseko was elected speaker of the legislature with Stewart Ngwenya as her deputy.

After many years out in the cold, Ace Magashule was elected premier of Free State yesterday.

His election follows many years of being ignored by the Mbeki regime, which elected his political juniors as premiers despite Magashule being the ANC chairman in the province since the mid- 90s.

Magashule has promised not to purge Mbeki allies in the province.

In Mpumalanga, former transport MEC David Mabuza took office in a swearing ceremony held in Nelspruit.

And KwaZulu-Natal-born Maureen Modiselle was sworn in as the new premier of North West, with Nono Dumile Maloy as speaker of the 33-seat provincial legislature.

In Limpopo, Cassel Mathale retained his position as premier, and in Eastern Cape Noxolo Kiviet replaced former premier Mbulelo Sogoni, while in Northern Cape former Bo-Karoo district mayor Hazel Jenkins was elected premier.

Modiselle will announce her cabinet on Sunday.

Yesterday, Modiselle pleaded with all the parties to bury the hatchet and work together for the betterment of all the people in the province.