The Star Late Edition
Replace or reshuffle debate regarding premier’s next move
LIMPOPO Premier Cassel Mathale is expected to say whether he will reshuffle his cabinet or just fill the vacant position in the executive council when he returns from leave on January 16.
The position was left vacant by former MEC for co-operative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs Soviet Lekganyane, who resigned after being elected ANC Limpopo secretary at the party’s provincial conference last month.
Mathale, whose political mandate was renewed when he was re-elected as ANC provincial chairman, must now replace Lekganyane. As ANC secretary, Lekganyane will become a full-time office-bearer.
Mathale defeated Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture Joe Phaahla, but not without controversy. Phaahla’s supporters have laid a complaint with the office of ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe over allegations of vote rigging at the conference.
Section 132 (2) of the constitution states that the premier of a province appoints the members of the executive council (MECS), assigns their powers and functions, and may dismiss them.
However, before doing this, Mathale will be mindful of the fact that some of his departments are now run from Pretoria. In December, the national cabinet took over control in the departments of education, public works, treasury, health as well as roads and transport because of financial and governance concerns.
Podu Mamabolo, director of Podu Mamabolo Attorneys, said she believed Mathale could still reshuffle some of the MECS whose departments had been put under national administration. “I think he can because, as we speak now, he is still the premier,” said Mamabolo.
The head of the Institute for African Renaissance Studies at Unisa, Professor Lesiba Teffo, said that while Mathale could reorganise his cabinet “if he so wishes”, reshuffling would not be a wise move. He said this was because most MECS implicated by the cabinet’s decision were perceived to be aligned to Mathale.
“I think the most astute decision is to fill the (single) vacancy,” said Teffo.
Clifford Motsepe, head of the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs, is touted as a possible new member of Mathale’s cabinet. Motsepe and ANC Youth League president Julius Malema were recently elected as members of the ANC’S provincial executive committee.
But Malema stands no chance of becoming an MEC if his suspension from the party is upheld.
While section 91 (3) of the constitution allows the president to appoint a maximum of two cabinet ministers from outside the national assembly, premiers are confined to the provincial legislature.
Limpopo government spokesman Tebatso Mabitsela would not say when Mathale will make the announcement.
“Members of the executive council serve at the behest of the premier,” he said.