Masualle in provincial cabinet shake-up firing line

Picture: MANDLA NDUNA GARNERING SUPPORT: Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle embarked on his pre-state of the province address engagements this week, visiting the community of Maqanyeni in Nyandeni local municipality. Among the delegation with Masualle is, left, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, MEC for rural development and agrarian reform. Picture: MANDLA NDUNA
Picture: MANDLA NDUNA GARNERING SUPPORT: Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle embarked on his pre-state of the province address engagements this week, visiting the community of Maqanyeni in Nyandeni local municipality. Among the delegation with Masualle is, left, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, MEC for rural development and agrarian reform. Picture: MANDLA NDUNA
Premier Phumulo Masualle will know his fate next week, when the ANC’s national officials receive a full report on the performance of the ANC-led Bhisho government.

This follows a meeting ANC Eastern Cape ANC officials held with the party’s top leaders, including party president Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday.

ANC provincial secretary Lulama Ngcukayitobi confirmed the meeting, saying they were there to recommend a cabinet shake-up, but due to the other pressing national issues it could not be finalised and had to be shelved.

Ngcukayitobi said: “We met the national leaders at Luthuli as expected. They gave us a hearing. The critical thing we were there to do was to present the status quo in terms of provincial government performance.

“The other issue which was unavoidable is the issue of cabinet reconfiguration.

“But because this was our first discussion with them, we had to therefore agree that we need to have a second discussion with them so that if there are clear proposals that we are coming up with, we come with those particular proposals to the national leadership. That is what needs to be done in order to rescue the situation,” said Ngcukayitobi.

The Dispatch can reveal today that in the firing line is Masualle as premier, health MEC Phumeza Dyantyi, agrarian reform and traditional affairs MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, social development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi, education MEC Mandla Makupula, roads and public works MEC Thandiswa Marawu, as well as finance and economic affairs and tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo, whose department is likely to be divided in two.

But Ngcukayitobi warned against speculating about names at this stage, saying that would be tantamount to prejudging issues. “We can’t handpick individuals and say this particular one will be affected and that one won’t. It can affect the entire legislative leadership and government legislative. It’s a real configuration.

“The intention is to have a buy-in and input from the national leaders because even the province is overseen by the national leadership.

“We can’t conclusively talk about the input as the province and have specifics in terms of names and people because that matter will be concluded only when we have had that particular discussions with national,” added Ngcukayitobi.

“They said they will come back to us to confirm the actual date because they are pressed by the current challenges at a national level. We hope that by Friday they would have come back to us with a date,” he added.

Under scrutiny at the meeting, which the Dispatch understands will be held on Monday, will be a report Ngcukayitobi presented at the two-day ANC lekgotla which ended on Monday, as well as Masualle’s report on the state of provincial government. Ngcukayitobi said the report on finance revealed that as at the end of September last year, “there is likelihood of under-expenditure in almost all the departments”.

The other critical issue of concern to the party is the failure to fill posts provided for in the budget.

“It means the provincial government is not operating optimally because these are funded posts which are in the organogram. Why is it then that these posts have not been filled?” he said.

He singled out health, education, rural and agrarian reform, the office of the premier, and Cogta.

“We are making that particular call saying we need people with new energy and new thinking so we can act differently in the best interest of our people.

“People of the Eastern Cape are not sure about the direction that this government is taking. We are having these talks in that context. We are speaking past each other on critical themes,” said Ngcukayitobi. He said the Masualle-led executive’s handling of the public protector (PP) in the matter of the Nelson Mandela funeral scandal was a case in point, which illustrated the of lack of cohesion.

The provincial executive committee (PEC) resolved last week that all those implicated in the PP’s report should be investigated and where there are recommendations of criminal charges being filed, this must happen.

“The provincial government is going its own way but the organisation has issued out directives about how best to handle that particular matter,” he said.

Masualle continued with his state programme yesterday, by convening imbizos to hear from ordinary citizens what they would like covered during his state of the province address scheduled for February 16.

Ngcukayitobi said the provincial cabinet was correct to continue with its business as usual, because “those that are in government will work until there is change”.

“That is why every day we are making that call to make things better,” added Ngcukayitobi.

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule could not be reached for comment by the time of writing.

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