Mixed reactions to Mathale's resignation

The ANC's provincial task team (PTT) in Limpopo accepted Cassel Mathale's resignation as premier on Monday.

"The PTT of the African National Congress in Limpopo has noted and hereby accepts the resignation of premier Cassel Mathale," PTT co-ordinator Joy Matshoge said.

Mathale announced earlier that he had sent a letter of resignation to the speaker of the Limpopo legislature after the ANC told him he had been "recalled".

"This is in line with the decision of the ANC to recall me as the premier of Limpopo province," he said.

The PTT was established earlier this year after the governing ANC dissolved the provincial executive committee (PEC). Mathale also lost his position as PEC chairman. It did so because of "un-ANC behaviour and institutionalised factional conduct".

The PTT also disbanded its Sekhukhune, Peter Mokaba, and Mopani regions.

Following Mathale's resignation, the PTT hoped the legislature would install an acting premier "with immediate effect".

"We urge the legislature once more to speedily elect a new premier to bring about stability and certainty to governance in Limpopo," Matshoge said.

The ANC's head office thanked Mathale for his leadership role as premier.

"Since his election in 2009, comrade Mathale has executed the mandate bestowed upon the African National Congress by the people of Limpopo with dedication and commitment," spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.

"The ANC expresses its gratitude to him for the leadership role he played as head of the provincial executive, thus today leaving behind a prosperous, thriving and stable province, notwithstanding some of the challenges experienced in recent times."

The party looked forward to working with Mathale in future.

In earlier reaction, the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union said the ANC had shown "decisive leadership" by recalling him.

"Without being triumphalists, our union is happy to see that the ANC has at long last endorsed our view that Mr Mathale was a liability and an embarrassment to our movement and government."

The union described Mathale as a divisive figure who had encouraged factionalism and invited foreign tendencies into the ruling party and the provincial government.

In Mathale's resignation statement he said his "redeployment" was consistent with the ANC's culture and tradition.

Provincial government spokesman Tebatso Mabitsela said Mathale would remain in his position until his resignation had been confirmed in a legislature sitting. Because of the separation of powers, he could not speak on behalf of the legislature and say when the special sitting would be held. Details were not immediately available from a legislature spokesperson.

The Democratic Alliance said the latest developments were in line with its own unsuccessful efforts to have a debate on a motion of no confidence in Mathale held in the legislature.

"All the efforts to block the DA's motion in the legislature have proved meaningless, as today's move effectively is in agreement with the DA's long-held position," said DA Limpopo legislature caucus leader Desiree van der Walt.

"Mr Mathale's track record in government is so poor that he should have been shown the door a long time ago," she said.

Inkatha Freedom Party Chief Whip Koos van der Merwe said the party hoped the recent spate of resignations and the Cabinet reshuffle were signs the ANC was taking a tougher stand against corruption.

Congress of the People acting provincial chairman Patrick Sikhutshi said the resignation was long overdue, and called on members of Mathale's executive council (MECs) to also resign.

"Should they resign on their own accord, it will go a long way in trying to restore the credibility to their leadership, which is long being damaged," he said.

Mathale was appointed premier on May 9, 2009.

He said his achievements during his term of office included improving the matric pass rate, building 63,123 houses and 15 bridges, providing 1.2 million households with water and electricity, and expanding access to antiretroviral treatment for people with HIV/Aids.

He acknowledged there were still problems, but did not mention that in December 2011 five provincial government departments were placed under administration because of allegations of corruption and gross violation of the Public Finance Management Act.

He also did not mention the scandal in 2012 when it was found that textbooks for certain grades had not been delivered to schools.

Mathale said contrary to perceptions, he and the provincial government had acted against corruption and had not interfered with investigations.

"At no stage have we attempted to derail or delay any process of investigation or disciplining any irregular conduct," he said.

"Under all material conditions, we have never sought to channel or redirect state resources to pursue any agenda except the noble cause of realising the pledges made to our people.

"Therefore, I also leave the office of the premier with my conscience clean that I have never done anything unlawful and un-ANC... Thank you and goodbye."