Briefing the media in Lichtenburg, North West, Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma reported back on her task team’s investigation of the governance crisis in the province.
The ministerial task team was appointed by Cabinet to attend to North West governance issues in the troubled province, which has now been placed under the control of national government by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Headed by Dlamini-Zuma, the team includes Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize, Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba.
Despite The Citizen being told by government insiders that a decision to remove Supra Mahumapelo had been made and that a new premier will be announced, Dlamini-Zuma did not touch on this matter.
The Auditor-General’s report on the North West provincial government’s audit outcomes suggested they had regressed badly over the past four years. Only 32% of the departments and public entities audited obtained financially clean audits in 2016/17 compared with 46% in 2015/16 and 62% in 2014/15 and 2013/14.
No public entity achieved a financially clean opinion in 2016/17.
The office of the premier was singled out as an area of “specific concern” because it had maintained a qualified audit outcome for the past two years with increasing irregular expenditure. The premier also preferred to “contest the audit conclusions” instead of work to improve them.
Discussing their preliminary findings, Dlamini-Zuma said their investigations were still ongoing. She made no major announcements aside from saying that they were taking a closer look at all the province’s municipalities to gain a greater understanding of their particular challenges.
She said that they had identified problems with how several departments in the province had “been structured”. She said each of the relevant ministers was focusing on areas of concern that related to their departments.
A journalist at one point asked her how she felt about having been backed in her bid for the presidency by an ANC province that was allegedly so compromised by bad governance and corruption.
She answered: “I’m not going to answer that because I was never backed by government, and we are here on a government matter. I am here in my government capacity, not in my capacity as an ANC member.”
Residents in Mahikeng went on a rampage in April, shutting down the province’s capital Mahikeng, looting shops and damaging property. They were calling for Premier Mahumapelo to resign over allegations of corruption. The anti-Mahumapelo protest spilled over to other parts of the province.
Mahumapelo indicated his intention to resign last week, only to rescind his resignation overnight. The man known as ”Black Jesus” by his supporters placed himself on special leave and appointed fraud-accused finance MEC Wendy Nelson as acting premier.
Following last week’s Cabinet meeting that received Dlamini-Zuma’s damning report on North West, Ramaphosa wrote to National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairwoman Thandi Modise, informing her of his decision to place the entire province under the control of national government, in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution.
Dlamini-Zuma said the exact nature of the national administration intervention was still being clarified, particularly which clause of Section 100 would be used. Some departments will be able to function with some input from provincial government departments, under Section 100(a).
The health department is already under Section 100(b), meaning no provincial autonomy will be allowed following a scandal related to a tender given to a Gupta-linked company. National ministers will therefore take direct control of the department.
All spending decisions are, however, being controlled from Pretoria, the first time in South African history that an entire province has been placed under administration.