KwaZulu-Natal African National Congress (ANC) chair Sihle Zikalala was on Wednesday elected as the premier of the province.
Nontembeko Boyce was elected as the speaker of the house while Mluleki Ndobe was elected as her deputy.
Boyce is the former ANC chief whip in the provincial legislature and Ndobe is the mayor of Harry Gwala District.
Ndobe was arrested in March this year in connection to political killings in the province, in particular to the murder of former ANCYL leader Sindiso Magaqa. However, the charges against Ndobe were provisionally withdrawn.
In his acceptance speech, Zikalala thanked the judge president of the High Court in KZN, Judge AN Jappie, for presiding over the first sitting of the house.
Zikalala congratulated all the members of the house for their election and further thanked voters who showed their support for the different parties in the province during this year’s polls.
“We accept each other as the credible and collective voice of our people in the province.
“In particular, we thank our people for voting overwhelmingly for the African National Congress to lead this government. We are humbled by the show of confidence,” Zikalala said.
The ANC garnered 1,951,027 votes in the province, 54.22% support, obtaining 44 seats in the house.
Zikalala said members of the house were aware that people of the province expected nothing but speedy service delivery.
The KZN premier-elect expressed his appreciation to his party, the ANC, and its president, Cyril Ramaphosa, for being nominated for the position.
Zikalala paid tribute to former ANC elected premiers of the province, namely, Sbu Ndebele, Dr Zweli Mkhize, Senzo Mchunu, and Willies Mchunu, whom Zikalala will take over from.
“They have left behind a catalogue of achievements and a wonderful spirit of camaraderie amongst colleagues and comrades,” Zikalala said.
However, the opposition party in the province, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) expressed its disappointment in this, saying it demonstrated “hatred if not immaturity”.
The IFP said it was disappointed by the fact that Zikalala had paid tribute only to ANC former premiers, sidelining the ones from the incumbent opposition in the province “who laid a solid foundation for the province”.
The IFP said these are Dr Frank Mdlalose, Dr Ben Ngubane, and Dr LPHM Mtshali. The IFP governed the province from 1994 to 2004 when the ANC took over the governing seat.
The IFP’s Velenkosini Hlabisa said Zikalala’s snub “is not a good sign of the spirit of the province and does not augur well” for its citizens.
“Going forward, if Zikalala is to succeed in his position as premier of the province, he must begin to learn to be a real premier of the province [and] not just the ANC.
“Mr Zikalala must know that he cannot rewrite the history of this province. Hatred, if not immaturity will make him mislead the province of KwaZulu-Natal,” Hlabisa said.
However, leading to his conclusion, Zikalala had pointed out that former provincial premiers “across all political lines” had laid a solid foundation in terms of service delivery.