The African national Congress (ANC) in the Free State says it will announce a new Premier by the end of the week. The party says three names have been submitted to its national executive committee.
This comes after premier Sisi Ntombela called the party’s secretary general, Fikile Mbalula, indicating her intention to resign. According to the letter seen by the SABC News, her resignation as Premier and member of the Provincial legislature will be effective from the 24th of February.
The ANC in the province says the resignation process is still unfolding and the process to interview a new Premier is under way. The ANC provincial spokesperson, Jabu Mbalula, says a new Premier will be announced by the end of the week to prepare for the State of the Province Address (SOPA) next week.
“The provincial executive committee of the ANC has expressed a wish that Mxolisi should take over the premiership. And it has explained why. We have been undertaking a process of trying to align ourselves and our structures branches of the of the ANC, regional structures of the ANC to do our work in a manner that is quite seamless that takes into account the decisions of the and that these must be implemented including in government. So our voice in government should be none other than Mxolisi Dukwana.”
Sisi Ntombela resigns as Free State Premier:
Ntombela took over the reigns as Premier in 2018 after Ace Magashule left the position to become the ANC secretary general. Ntombela is the fourth woman to take up the position in the province. There has been widespread concern over governance issues at both provincial and municipal levels in the province.
In August 2022, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke warned that the Free State was in serious trouble, with not a single municipality receiving a clean audit for the past five years. The ANC in the Free State resolved to recall Ntombela after she lost her bid to become the provincial chairperson at the party’s conference last month, to Mxolisi Dukwana.
Her resignation paves the way for a new Premier.
However, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) say they are not hopeful of any change. EFF provincial secretary, Mapheule Liphoko, says although Ntombela’s resignation is long overdue, a new Premier will not bring change.
“It’s a disrespect to the people of the Free State and by the way we know that they are bringing a different set of thieves that are still going to steal. Not only that the corruption will still going to fly under these people its not like they prioritise anything. They just speak corruption but the majority of them are in the forefront making it possible.”
Between a rock and a hard place
Freedom Front Plus member of provincial legislature, Armand Cloete, says Ntombela was between a rock and a hard place.
“The Free State Premier found herself between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand there is a state of the province that is happening next week and on the other she has been recalled by her party. And even redeployed. However, nothing is going to change in the Free State its in the dna of the ANC to not worry about service delivery and not worry about the residents of the Free State.”
Stop the rot
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader in the Free State, Dr Roy Jankielsohn, says the province needs a leader who can steer the ship in the right direction and stop the rot taking place.
“As we stand today we have been informed that she has resigned with immediate effect. Whether the ANC has accepted or received the resignation letter is unclear at this stage. But what we do know is that all of this has destabilised the Free State. Our provincial government departments don’t know who is in charge. Our municipalities where various cadres had been deployed are very unstable and this is a effecting service delivery for the people of the Free State.”
Fractures within Free State ANC
Political Analyst, Professor Sethulego Matebesi says Ntombela’s resignation exposes the fractures within the party in the province. Matebesi says it is clear she was pressured into resigning.
“There was pressure on her and it’s a typical Gwede Mantashe thing where the ANC does not want to take the citizens of this province into confidence and South Africans by making a public announcement about the Premier’s resignation. But yet once again I strongly believe that political expediency is taking precedence over certain priorities. But fact of the matter it is a political decision and we want to see. There will be a tremendous pressure on those who will be taking over from Sisi Ntombela.”
The ANC is expected to formally announce Dukwana as the incoming premier on Thursday. Dukwana is set to deliver the SOPA next Tuesday.
ANC in the Free State says it will announce a new premier by the end of the week: