We've got news for you.

Register on SowetanLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Nothing untoward in KZN cabinet swap, says premier Sihle Zikalala

MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube is sworn in to the portfolio of finance after a reshuffle on Tuesday.
MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube is sworn in to the portfolio of finance after a reshuffle on Tuesday.
Image: Supplied

KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala has vowed that there is nothing untoward about changes to his cabinet, adding that the move is solely to strengthen governance and service delivery.

On Tuesday the KwaZulu-Natal government moved former MEC for economic development Nomusa Dube-Ncube to the portfolio of finance, while MEC Ravi Pillay, who previously headed finance, was moved to economic development, tourism and environmental affairs.

Zikalala said this move, which was done in consultation with the ANC, was made for the acceleration of the work of government.

“We want to ensure that we structure an aligned functioning of government. Accordingly, a person is deployed and must be deployed in an area where she has expertise and can ensure implementation on time and in a manner that is aggressive,” he said.

Asked why Dube-Ncube was not deployed to finance from the onset and Pillay to economic development, Zikalala said the priority of the government at the time was to manage the transition in a way that would not disrupt the work of each department so as to not destabilise the government.

However, he said now the governing ANC felt that it was time to make these two changes.

“MEC Dube-Ncube has been a speaker at eThekwini municipality, in the province she has worked as an MEC for Cogta, which is part of the governance cluster. Finance is under governance as well.

“These are portfolios where programmes ensure that governance is implemented. We must ensure that all structures under finance are functional. It is under that expertise and experience that we thought we should take this decision,” he explained.

Zikalala said the timing of the changes was informed by a need to be pragmatic in everything the provincial government does and ensure all people are deployed and aligned in a way that their experience and expertise will help them in achieving  what is expected.

“We need a new approach as government, an approach of accelerating everything we do, we need to hit the ground running. As  the president said, in terms of implementing our policies, social, governance or economic, it must be as if we are in a post-world war [setting].”

Serious questions about internal factionalism: DA

The political shuffle was met by surprise by the DA, which questioned the motive and the unnecessary expense of such a move.

DA leader and MPL Zwakele Mncwango said: “The DA is surprised by the premier’s decision. We cannot see any good reason for either of these MECs to be shifted around.

“The move raises serious questions around whether the reshuffle is motivated by internal ANC factionalism and whether the premier is in fact under political pressure. If this is not the case, then the premier needs to prove otherwise.

“With the premier having failed to provide reasons for the move, it must also be asked whether he had in fact lost confidence in either of these MECs in their former roles.”

Mncwango said the reshuffles were associated with “substantial costs”.

“While the DA acknowledges that cabinet appointments are the prerogative of the premier and that he may not be obligated to provide reasons for the move, we call on him to provide more clarity in the interest of transparency and good governance.”

Zikalala said the political environment does not define the party’s approach in governance and policy implementation.

“The ANC agrees that it's time we realign this way. There's no other politics; we are about service delivery. If there are politics outside of that, those politics will be engaged by the ANC. But in government we work for service delivery and implement the manifesto of the ANC.”