Democratic Alliance spokesman on education in KZN, Tom Stokes, said the selection of Nkonyeni spoke volumes about the principles and pragmatics that continue to drive the ANC.
“In the absence of a suitable candidate within his current caucus, the DA would have hoped that the premier would have looked to national ranks for a stronger alternative than Nkonyeni. Perhaps he did so and came away with the same dilemma,” said Stokes.
“It is increasingly clear that while the ANC is good at talking about improving education, it lacks the credible leadership, the will or the commitment to tackle issues with any urgency,” he added.
The “Amigos” case, in which Nkonyeni and Economic Development and Tourism MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu had been implicated, was dropped in September last year.
The pair were due to stand trial for their alleged involvement in a multi-million rand water purification scandal.
Putting Nkonyeni’s past aside, ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said the party remained optimistic that she would continue to “elevate education to its rightful place”.
“(We) regard the appointment as part of strengthening the provincial government and we urge all the stakeholders to work with the new MEC to ensure that education continues to receive the attention it deserves,” said Zikalala.
At a swearing in ceremony in Durban yesterday, KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu said Nkonyeni’s determination would lead to improvement in the quality of education and improvement in matriculation pass rates.