Headlines

I’m In Charge: Ntombela

  • Shape up or ship out, inept officials told
  • Free State sitting on time bomb
  • No more Monday absenteeism
  • Fast action needed to curb unemployment

As Premier Sisi Ntombela continues to solidify her position as the Free State ship captain, she has warned sparks will fly if those tasked with delivering services to the people rest on their laurels.

The province’s number one citizen is taking no prisoners in making sure that those in charge of service delivery pull their weight and meaningfully contribute towards efforts to extricating it from the economic slump it is experiencing.

“I’m no longer a care-take Premier. I am now the Premier of the province and I’m in charge; I respect everybody and want co-operation but if I get the slightest idea that I’m being taken for granted then sparks will fly” said a buoyed Ntombela on Tuesday.

She was part of the Free State provincial cabinet who were in Botshabelo to meet with municipal managers, councillors, and officials of government as the new sixth provincial administration.

Ntombela expressed worry at the state of the province, saying after attending the ANC Lekogtla in Johannesburg over the weekend, she is now more determined to implement the party’s election manifesto promises and all its 54th national policy and elective conference resolutions.

The Premier noted that the province is sitting on a ticking time bomb of over 400 000 unemployed young people, and immediately  directed the new small business and economic development MEC, Makalo Mohale, to triple his efforts in ensuring this bleak picture is removed.

She said the vast majority of the 2.9 million Free State residents were living below the bread line and also recipients of government social security grants.

“Those 401 000 young people who are not working are supposed to be the future of this province. Even though in the Free State we fund their education and they complete their degrees, they still come back and loiter the streets because there are no jobs,” she noted.

She added: “We must change the face of the economy of the province, and it can only be us that do that. I speak of the Free State not because I have anything against other provinces, but it is here that I was born and it is here that I will be buried.”

The fired up Ntombela bemoaned the lack of black shareholding in the province’s mining, citing the Free State has been known to survive on this but the shareholding in mines leaves a lot to be desired in terms of ownership.

She reminded the officials that they will not be in power and positions of authority forever, advising them to leave behind a legacy that can back up their tenure as having been productive.

“Remember you won’t be in power forever, and if you are not going to implement change it will come to haunt you too. Just go and ask those MECs who did not come back in this administration how it feels,” she cautioned.

She further warned that new councillors must be in the know about the operating budgets of the areas where they work, adding that in most cases the largest chunk of budgets go into paying salaries and services.

Ntombela noted there are government officials who defraud the system by submitting up to five individual claims for a trip they undertook in one car. These are the same officials who come from municipalities struggling to render basic services to residents.

“As long as they are satisfied they do not care about other people, the very people that put them into power. During ANC door to door campaigns in the province we heard sad stories of no jobs or water for the poor, yet some of these officials still see it fit to steal money meant for the poor. I tell you if you want to succeed in life don’t let the poor shed a tear because of you,” she remarked.

The unapologetic Ntombela said the main focus of her administration is fast-tracking service delivery, noting it’s ‘either you are out or in’.

She also spoke against tendencies by municipal officials and managers of not reporting for duty on Mondays, warning this must come to an end soon.

“If the head is drunk, the rest will follow suit,” said the Premier, further denouncing the inherent culture of working each other down in the public sector.

Ntombela said she will gladly meet in court with any municipality official not pulling up their socks in helping craft a better life for the people.

The event was also graced by attendances of new Treasury MEC Gadija Brown, Destea MEC Makalo Mohale, Police and Transport MEC Sam Mashinini as well as MEC of public works, Tshidi Koloi.

By: Ramosidi Matekane