Panyaza Lesufi set standard for education

Former Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has been deployed to the to the finance portfolio.
Former Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has been deployed to the to the finance portfolio.
Image: VATHISWA RUSELO

There's been mixed reaction to the new Gauteng cabinet announced by premier David Makhura on Wednesday.

While some have welcomed the new provincial executive as a mix of young and old, women and men who were competent, there's equally been an echo of discontent over apparent recycling of old faces.

Yet one appointment - that of former Gauteng MEC for education Panyaza Lesufi to the finance portfolio - has in particular sparked considerable debate on social media and on radio talk shows.

Many have argued that Lesufi's move from the education portfolio to finance was akin to fixing what isn't broken, or a step backward.

Indeed, Lesufi has done a sterling job in education in the province by shifting the mindsets and dismantling structural impediments that made education inaccessible to the poor black majority.

He is also credited with bringing technology to the classroom with his vision of paperless classrooms modelled on South Korea.

Lesufi famously declared that he wished to see township kids bury the chalkboard and the duster in favour of the tablet in order to compete with the best in the world.

It is therefore understandable why there is a cacophony of voices calling on Makhura to reconsider his decision to move Lesufi from education.

Yesterday, Makhura appeared to hint that he might reverse his decision. He told radio station Power FM that he was now considering the public outcry and might redeploy Lesufi back to the education sector.

"There have been many voices that have been saying to me: 'But premier, we hear what you say about public finances and so on, but please can you return Lesufi to education?' Who knows? I might. I am still applying my mind. I might change that," Makhura said.

While Lesufi has done a sterling job in education, it would be a sad day if he would be denied an opportunity to also gain the necessary experience managing the finances and budget of the richest province in the country.

Instead of asking for his return to education, we should call on new education MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko to look up to the bar that Lesufi has set so high and hold her to account if she falls short.

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