New Eastern Cape executive ignites no excitement

The new Provincial Executive Council of the Eastern Cape was announced by Premier Phumulo Masualle this morning.

It is clear that Premier Phumulo Masualle has been severely constrained by the ANC’s decision to have 60% of provincial executive members being women (not that woman are incapable nor competent, it simply limits choice).

It is clear that the ANC-led provinces have flexed their muscles against the President in his last term by being insistent that he appoints their provincial chairpersons as Premiers.

The executive that has been appointed in the Eastern Cape has not ignited any excitement or precipitated any anticipation amongst the DA caucus in the Provincial Legislature. The MECs that have been retained have had a less than stellar tenure and their retention or recycling hardly augurs well for the future of this province. This smacks of the futile exercise of “shifting the chairs on the Titanic”.

MEC Mandla Makupula presided over what we believe was a dysfunctional Department of Education and this belief was shared by the national government and fortified by poor matric results.

MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane was woeful in his capacity as MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs and we fear that he will do no better in a faltering Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform with potentially catastrophic consequences.

MEC Pemmy Majodina has become something of a journeyman-MEC that has left very little impression in any of the previous departments under her leadership.

It is difficult to comment about the new MPLs that have been appointed into the executive, with the exception of former Legislature Speaker Fikile Xasa, who is now the MEC of Local Government and Traditional Affairs. Mr Xasa left the Legislature in an absolute state of chaos and we fear that his ineptitude is the very last thing that local government requires in this province.

It remains to be seen whether the new MECs will make any difference to the state of affairs in the remaining departments. The DA-caucus in the Legislature will exercise stronger than ever political oversight over this executive with our bigger and better caucus.

The DA believes that the Premier will be hard-pressed to improve the state of affairs in the province with this executive. This will be compounded by the cloud hanging over his head with regard to the allegations of corruption, irregular expenditure and unlawful payments during the former President Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

These are indeed going to be testing times for the new Premier of the Eastern Cape and his executive.