Limpopo Cabinet: Cosatu Cries Foul As Ramathuba Wields An Axe

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in Limpopo has accused newly-appointed Premier Phophi Ramathuba of sidelining leaders of the ANC-led tripartite Alliance during the composition of her provincial cabinet.

On Tuesday, Ramathuba unveiled her new executive, wielding an axe on more than half of the previous MECs and demoting others including prominent ANC Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) members. Most marginalised MECs are allies of former ANC provincial treasurer Danny Msiza, whose faction dominated provincial politics for over a decade.

According to COSATU provincial secretary Hangwani Mashao, they were not considered for appointments despite having helped campaign for the ANC’s overwhelming victory in Limpopo. COSATU is one of the African National Congress’ (ANC) long-term alliance partners, alongside the South African Communist Party (SACP) and South African National Civic Association (SANCO). 

The province has become the ANC’s strongest hold following the recent elections, where the party obtained 74% of the provincial vote.

“The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in Limpopo wishes to publicly express concern and condemn the fundamental blight in the outlook of the Provincial Executive, in relation to the absence of the components of the Alliance, in a fundamental departure from the principles our ally, the ANC, of broadly reflecting the components of the Alliance in its own decisions and activities and those of the state,” said Mashao in a statement.

“This development is a regression to the dark days when the Federation and other components of the Alliance would be expected to help deliver victory and thereafter be cast aside. This is a sad history we believed was long buried, one of sloppy and last-minute consultations and disregard for the input of the Alliance structures,” he added.

Limpopo Cosatu secretary Hangwani Mashao has accused Premier Phophi Ramathuba of sideling leaders of the ANC-led Tripartite Alliance during the composition of her new Cabinet. (Photo: Limpopo Cosatu).

Describing Ramathuba’s cabinet as exclusionary, Mashao said the union was concerned that COSATU would not have a voice in the provincial government over the next five years. He labelled the development as sad, saying that government decisions always affected workers. Despite his reservations, Mashao congratulated the new cabinet

“We call upon our ally the ANC, to heed the call we have been making, through our communication channels, for proper and thoroughgoing engagements through the structures of the alliance,” Mashao said.

However, an ANC leader aligned with Ramathuba dismissed Mashao’s claims as sour grapes.

“Cosatu wanted their own person, Esther Mokwele, in the cabinet. She is their chairperson. She did not make it into the executive but is in the Legislature. But the premier has been fair. For the first time, we elected alliance leaders through normal processes in the branches, not an intervention. They are just angry that they did not get their own in cabinet,” said the provincial ANC leader.

After her inauguration as Limpopo’s first female premier, Ramathuba sent shock waves across the province when she excluded some senior ANC leaders in favour of new brooms. Those shown the door included former MEC for Economic Development, Environment and Tourism Rodgers Monama, former Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Thabo Mokone and former Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale. 

SIDELINED: Former Economic Development, Environment and Tourism MEC Rodgers Monama is one of the six MECs excluded from the new Cabinet.
MARGINALISED: Former Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure MEC Nkakareng Rakgoale and former Agriculture MEC Thabo Mokone are among the six MECs excluded from the new executive.

The trio are ANC PEC and Provincial Working Committee (PWC) members and Msiza’s allies. Monama, Mokone and Rakgoale are part of a powerful political clique, of which Msiza is a key member, that has ruled Limpopo since former premier Stan Mathabatha took over as provincial chairperson in 2013.

In addition, Ramathuba demoted Deputy ANC Chairperson Florence Radzilani, who was moved from the Transport and Community Safety portfolio to Social Development. She promoted the party’s Provincial Treasurer Nakedi Sibanda-Kekana from the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture portfolio to the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The premier replaced the old guard with new faces, including provincial ANC Youth League (ANCYL) Chairperson Enerst Tonny Rachoene, who has taken over the Department of Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure. Other new brooms are Sekhukhune ANC regional executive committee member Masesi Dieketseng Mashego, who is the Health MEC, and former Tzaneen ANC councillor Violet Mathye, who took over the Transport and Community Safet Department.

Former Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Director General and Waterberg regional ANC deputy chairperson Elias Kgabo Mahoai is now Provincial Treasury MEC. Vhembe ANC chairperson and former Deputy Speaker of the Limpopo Legislature Matibe Baldwin Tshitereke took over the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism.

New Broom: Limpopo ANCYL Chairperson Tonny Rachoene is among Premier Phophi Ramathuba’s new MECs. He has been appointed Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure MEC.

Former Sekhukhune ANC regional secretary Jerry Funani Maseko has been appointed the Sport, Arts and Culture MEC. While Ramathuba’s decision angered some of Msiza’s supporters, it elated ANC members and others who had long wished for a new political era and direction in the province.

“The individuals I have appointed to the Executive Council bring a wealth of experience, dedication, and a deep commitment to serving our people. They have been chosen for their proven track records, their expertise in their respective fields, and their unwavering commitment to the values and principles that underpin our democracy,” said Ramathuba, on June 18, 2024.

Ramathuba said her new cabinet would address Limpopo’s pressing challenges, including economic growth, unemployment, job creation, industrialisation, agriculture and rural development, water provision, roads and general infrastructure development, healthcare, education and crime.

“We are committed to fostering an inclusive and transparent government that works tirelessly to improve the lives of all our citizens. The members of the Executive Council will be tasked with specific portfolios, each critical to the holistic development of our province.”

“They will be expected to lead with integrity, accountability, and a relentless drive to achieve tangible results. Together, we will work to ensure that the policies and programmes we implement are effective, sustainable, and responsive to the needs of our communities,” she added. 

DEMOTED: Limpopo Deputy ANC Chairperson Florence Radzilani has been moved from the Transport and Community Safety to the Social Development portfolio as MEC. (Photo: ANC).

The Ramathuba cabinet includes the following MECs:

  • Mavhungu Lerule-Ramakhanya- Department of Education
  • Masesi Dieketseng Mashego – Department of Health
  • Rogers Basikopo Makamu – Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs.
  • Florence Fulufhelo Radzilani – Department of Social Development.
  • Jerry Funani Maseko – Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.
  • Elias Kgabo Mahoai – Provincial Treasury.
  • Matibe Baldwin Tshitereke – Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism.
  • Ernest Sebataolo Rachoene – Department of Public Works, Roads and Infrastructure.
  • Grace Nakedi Kekana – Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
  • Violet Susani Mathye – Department of Transport and Community Safety.

The most notable appointment is Rachoene, the radical provincial chairperson of the ANC Youth League and rising star in Limpopo politics. Under his leadership, the league was always at the forefront of campaigning for Ramathuba and defending her whenever she came under fire during her tenure as provincial health MEC.

Ramathuba often came under fire from angry unionists who wanted her removed from her portfolio, accusing her of running down the provincial health department. Moreover, Rachoene has been credited for delivering Ramathuba’s premiership after leading “Magoshi Fridays”, an aggressive and successful ANCYL campaign to woo traditional leaders and other voters into the governing party’s folds.  

SAFE: Limpopo ANC Deputy Secretary Rogers Basikopo Makamu has retained his position as the Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs MEC. (Photo: ANC).

Calling for unity and shared commitment, an unfazed Ramathuba said she had full confidence in her new executive. 

“I have full confidence in the capabilities of the newly appointed Executive Council members, and I am certain that, with their support and the collective efforts of all stakeholders, we will make significant strides in realizing the vision of a prosperous, equitable, and thriving Limpopo,” said Ramathuba. 

When contacted, Ramathuba referred African Times to provincial government spokesperson Ndavhe Ramukuela and Limpopo ANC spokesperson Jimmy Machaka. 

“Speak to Ndavhe Ramakuela who is the spokesperson as you would appreciate that I’m not the spokesperson. Cosatu is in alliance with the ANC and their statement is very clearly directed to the leader of the alliance hence I will refer you to Cde Jimmy Machaka the ANC spokesperson,” said Ramathuba.

Ramukuela said they were not in a position to comment on ANC Alliance matters.

“As [the] provincial government we are not in a position to respond to matters related to the alliance. The ANC is best placed to shed light on the matter,” said Ramukuela.

Machaka said he would comment later.



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