Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela has put an end to weeks of speculations on whose name – among the current male members of the Executive Committee (MEC)s – will face the chop when she announces her new cabinet. The premier called a media briefing on Wednesday afternoon announcing her first cabinet adjustments since her appointment in March this year which only affected five MECs.
She, however, told Dumelang News on the side-line of the Agricultural Support for female smallholder producers event yesterday, that the reshuffle aimed at strengthening governance and improving service delivery in the province but more so, ending the long speculations on who will be fired and appointed in her cabinet. Speculations were high earlier this week after Ntombela announced that she would like to increase female representation in the cabinet to 60 percent.
Ntombela made one change to the portfolio of health when she promoted the department’s manager of nursing, Montsheng Tsiu, as the new MEC and retained all the MECs while four were moved to another departments.Tsiu – who joined the provincial legislature weeks ago following a resignation of ANC provincial Coordinator William Bulwane – occupies a position which was previously occupied by Butana Komphela who has been moved to the Social Development portfolio. She further separated the cooperative governance, traditional affairs and human settlements department into two with each their own MECs respectively.
Benny Malakoane was appointed MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Oupa Khoabane was appointed to the Cooperative Governance Department and Maki Mahasa as Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC.The Human Settlements portfolio was incorporated into the Public Works and Infrastructure department. Asked about the sudden change to keep 50/50 gender representation in her cabinet, Ntomeba said people blew her statement out of proportion when she spoke of gender representation.
“People wanted to speculate on who should be fired and appointed but are disappointed to see that no MEC has been chopped. What I meant was that, I will only appoint a female candidate to the position I left vacant when taking up the premier position and I believe doing so will bring the 60 percent representation of women in the cabinet… that is when you include myself,” said Ntombela.
Tsiu is also a former chairperson of the National Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) in the province. “The changes to the executive council are intended to accelerate the implementation of radical socio-economic transformation, and to ensure that we work together to ensure that the lives of our people are changed for the better,” added Ntombela.