Ntombela’s 50/50 Exco hailed

  • Cabinet achieves gender balance
  • Premier vows to uproot corruption
  • Govt to stick to clean governance

The 50-50 gender parity representation advocated by the ANC Women’s League in all levels of government found resonance in the provincial cabinet announced by Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela on Tuesday afternoon.

Five of the 10 Members of the Executive Council (MECs) chosen to head the province for the next five years are women, a move that has been raised by various stakeholders as a show of Ntombela’s commitment to appoint more women into positions of authority.

Ntombela had earlier vowed to ensure her provincial cabinet is balanced with female and youth representatives.

At its 54th national policy and elective conference in December 2017 at Nasrec in Gauteng, the ruling ANC resolved to intensify efforts to ensure more women and young people are appointed to positions of authority.

Former executive mayor of Moqhaka Tshidi Koloi is now MEC for public works while former speaker of the provincial legislature Mamiki Qabathe replaces MEC Maki Mahasa at social development. Mahasa has been moved to head the provincial department of sports, arts and recreation.

Health MEC Montseng Tsiu retained her position while Gadija Brown, a former chief financial officer at the Free State Development Corporation replaces Elsabe Rockman as finance MEC.

ANC deputy provincial chairman William Bulwane is now the MEC for agriculture and rural development and ANC youth league provincial chairman Makalo Mohale has been appointed MEC for small business, economic development, tourism and environmental affairs (Destea) in the sixth administration.

Tate Makgoe and ANC provincial chairman Sam Mashinini retained their positions as MEC for education and police, roads and transport, respectively.

In making the announcements, Ntombela said all the MECs in her cabinet have proven their willingness to work hard to ensure the attainment of a better life for the people of the province.

“These men and women who will constitute the Free State Executive Council for the current administration are committed to working hard to ensure that we embark on radical steps towards changing the lives of our people,” she said.

She noted the task of nominating members to the provincial cabinet had not been an easy one given the vast talent and skill the Free State is blessed with.

The announcement of her executive committee, which coincided with the famous anti-pass laws of 1913, is a stark reminder of the arrest of many women for defying the apartheid pass laws, she added.

“We pay tribute to the courageous women who were arrested in Bloemfontein, Winburg, Jagersfontein and other parts of the province for their role in the struggle against an unjust system. Today we are free because of their sacrifices,” said the Premier.

She also said it remains a concern that 106 years after the women’s pass protests, the majority of South Africans remain landless, vowing her government will work with municipalities and the national government in ensuring that people are given land for residential, commercial, as well as religious purposes.

“We fully support the ongoing processes to expropriate land without compensation, and we will work together with all stakeholders to make sure that, where people are given land, production and food security are not compromised.” 

Ntombela said the mandate from the electorate for radical socio-economic change is the cornerstone of the ANC’s instruction, further undertaking to realise the vision of a free South Africa as captured in the Freedom Charter.

She further voiced concern over youth unemployment in the province, with about 300 000 young people reportedly not working.

The Premier’s Office would work jointly with national government, municipalities and the private sector to fight youth unemployment, as well as to establish programmes towards youth development. 

Corruption, she said, would be uprooted as officials are always be expected to abide by the principles of sound financial management and good governance.

The new Speaker of the Free State Legislature, Zanele Sifuba, welcomed the announcement of the new provincial cabinet, saying this indicates the Premier is ready to work for the people of the province and there is no time to waste.

“We welcome the appointment of the new cabinet and wish them well,” she said, adding the announcement ushers in the start of the government work for the sixth provincial administration.

According to Sifuba, Ntombela announced a fairly balanced structure of capable men and women.

“The appointment of women in the cabinet is very important in ensuring that we intensify the struggle against gender oppression. Gender oppression in South Africa manifests itself in three forms, sex, colour and class,” she pointed out.

Sifuba said the appointments offer confidence that the province and the country are well on track towards breaking the backbone of the system of patriarchy.

“I am delighted and really believe that the maintenance of clear women parity in the executive is something we should not take lightly,” she added.

Meanwhile ANCYL Free State secretary Reagan Booysen said young people welcome the announcement of the cabinet mindful of the difficult task it faces in responding to the socio-economic challenges facing the province.

“We remain convinced that this collective  -which is a product of extensive internal organisational engagements – is best placed to fully implement our manifesto commitments,” he added.

By: Ramosidi Matekane