Eastern Cape MECs list priorities

Supporting struggling municipalities, black developers on new executive council’s radar

Social development MEC Siphokazi Mani
Social development MEC Siphokazi Mani
Image: Supplied

Creating opportunities for black property developers to do business with the state and supporting struggling municipalities are among the priorities of newly sworn-in Eastern Cape MECs.

The members of premier Oscar Mabuyane’s executive council were sworn in at the 1820 Settler’s Monument in Makhanda on Wednesday.

Public works MEC Babalo Madikizela, who previously headed human settlements, said it was high time opportunities were created by the public works department for black property developers.

“If you scan the province at a distance, you realise that the property portfolio still belongs to the minority,” he said.

“As the department we continue to rent to the minority.

“One of the priorities is to change the property ownership patterns so that we, as the department, if we rent, we rent to black property developers.”

Meanwhile, health MEC Sindiswa Gomba said she would first and foremost try to get to the bottom of the high number of medico-legal claims.

“Most of the time when we talk about this [negligence claims against the department] we hear that it’s because of staff shortages, among other things, and that’s something we have to look into,” Gomba said.

She said she would also look at the realities of delivering the National Health Insurance system in a province which struggled with primary healthcare.

At 33, new social development MEC Siphokazi Mani is the youngest MEC – a role she says she does not take lightly.

“I’m humbled and highly honoured that they’d invest and trust in my abilities.

“I think it’s great that the ANC can invest in young people and I can only commit to working tirelessly for the people of the Eastern Cape.

“Whatever work I do, and whatever the outcomes, will not only reflect on me but on my generation as well.

“It’s more pressure but in a good way,” she said.

Mani, the former provincial chair of Sasco, has served as ANC Youth League provincial treasurer and as a member of the Young Communist League.

“My previous role will assist me because where I’m coming from I dealt directly with the constituency.

“I know the plight of our people firsthand. I understand the urgency for us to deliver.”

New co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Xolile Nqatha said he was humbled by the appointment.

He said it was a huge responsibility given that local government was the face of service delivery and the centre where action should take place.

“I’m glad I’m not going to be alone in this task because it’s about collaboration and we must work very hard to ensure local government is fully functional, because if we were to fix local government ... then we would’ve solved half of the province’s problems.

“It is my commitment to accelerate our manifesto and to speed up service delivery, ensure good governance and participation from communities, councillors and labour, because we can only succeed if we work collaboratively,” he said.

Speaking about some of the struggling municipalities, such as Makana municipality, which owes millions to Eskom and is facing a water crisis, and the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, which has faced recent calls for it to be placed under administration, Nqatha said he would prioritise those municipalities as they had been highlighted by the national department of Cogta.

“These municipalities have been highlighted by Cogta for support.

“My coming in would be seeking to consolidate and speed up support in those municipalities and I would imagine it’s only fair to get into the department and get detailed reports and I’d then take it from there,” Nqatha said.

Human settlements MEC Nonkqubela Pieters said she was still set to meet the head of her department and get a full report before commenting.

Pieters, a former speaker at the Sarah Baartman municipality, said her experience would assist her. “Municipalities are where things happen and they shape you and enable you to ask relevant questions when necessary,” Pieters said.

Addressing the newly sworn-in MECs, Mabuyane said they were not appointed to serve him but the people of the Eastern Cape.

“Together we’ll have to steer this ship through these troubled waters for us to be able to change people’s lives.

“We are a province characterised by many negatives, such as high unemployment, high levels of poverty, high levels of social grant beneficiation,” he said.

“We are a collective entrusted to change the economic outlook of our province.”

Mabuyane said the new MECs must be diligent, effective and willing to go the extra mile in helping people.

“When we look back, we must be able to say we delivered services to the people.”