Premier dares Zuma to arrest him

LIMPOPO Premier Cassel Mathale has dared President Jacob Zuma's government to arrest him if there has been any wrongdoing on his part, instead of "punishing innocent service providers".

This was Mathale's first public outburst since the national government took over administration of several departments in the province after reports of financial maladministration.

The move has been described as a ploy by Zuma to punish those, like Mathale, who are opposed to his serving a second term.

Several service providers have also complained that they had not been paid since the takeover.

"It is quite upsetting to punish the people of Limpopo for the 'wrongs' that they did not commit. I for one have received my salary on December 15. The same goes to all government public servants.

"But we cannot say the same about service providers who rendered much needed services," Mathale said yesterday while delivering a message of support for matriculants in Polokwane.

"They had to face a black Christmas with their families because they were not paid for their work. Their children had to spend Christmas without new clothes and now they are faced with an uphill battle to raise funds to send their children to school. I am going to take it up with the powers that might be at a national level," he said.

The five Limpopo provincial departments put under administration are education, led by MEC Dickson Masemola, treasury led, by MEC David Masondo, public works, led by MEC Thabitha Mohlala, health, led by MEC Dikeledi Magadzi, and roads and transport, led by MEC Pinky Kekana

Mathale came under scrutiny late last year after Cosatu and the SACP accused him and his provincial administration of being corrupt. The two accused Mathale and his cronies of awarding lucrative tenders worth about R1.5-billion to companies with which they have links.

"If there is anyone with tangible evidence to these accusations why can't they arrest me?" Mathale asked yesterday.

He also indicated that national Treasury had not yet signed a memorandum of understanding which outlined the kind of technical support national government would provide to the Limpopo administration to resolve the financial situation in the province.

"We have also agreed in principle that public services would not be interrupted by the decision of the national government. But today we are baffled that our innocent service providers are still the ones to endure pain," he said.

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