South Africa


Free State ANC axes premier Sisi Ntombela, Mangaung mayor and several MECs

Free State ANC axes premier Sisi Ntombela, Mangaung mayor and several MECs
Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela. (Photo: Gallo Images / Volksblad / Mlungisi Louw)

After an assessment of the performance of party members in the Free State, the Provincial Executive Committee has decided to recall several high-ranking officials – including the premier, the mayor and at least eight MECs.

Barely three weeks into office, the Free State’s newly elected Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) has decided to recall several officials – most notably incumbent Premier Sisi Ntombela and Mangaung mayor Mxolisi Siyonzana. 

These were some of the key decisions taken by the party’s PEC at the weekend following its assessment of institutions and party members, an ANC source told Daily Maverick.

The writing was on the wall for Ntombela after her failed bid for party chair at the party’s ninth provincial conference two weeks ago. She also failed to be elected as a PEC member. 

Mxolisi Dukwana beat Ntombela in the tight race for ANC chair and is now poised to become the next premier. 

“There was general consensus that she [will be] relieved of her duties due to poor performance, with only a handful warning that recalling her would cause divisions and strengthen factions that the party’s been battling to do away with,” the source said. 

Read more in Daily Maverick:Sisi Ntombela lost bid for FS ANC chair, then for PEC membership, now fighting for political life” 

Delivering the party’s political report, Dukwana said the Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) in its two-year tenure under Ntombela as premier had grappled with criminal syndicates who were fleecing it dry, resulting in the collapse of services.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Criminal syndicates operated in the Free State, fleeced the State and collapsed services – ANC political report

In his address at the ninth ANC Free State provincial elective conference two weeks ago, ANC national chair Gwede Mantatshe said the provincial government had become dysfunctional. 

“A key observation that we can confidently make here is that there is neither local nor provincial governance in the Free State,” he said.

“When spheres of government are dysfunctional, there is no government. One of the biggest disjunctures and rubbish I observed in the Free State is the demarcation. You have demarcated the province so much that it cannot even function.” 

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. 

When Daily Maverick asked Ntombela about her future political prospects, she said at the time: “I am deployed by the ANC and the ANC can do anything that it wants with me. I know that, so it is in their hands.”

Members of the Mangaung Service Delivery Forum (MSDF) march from the Lema Mall to the Bloemfontein City Centre on 19 January 2022 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo: Gallo Images / Volksblad / Mlungisi Louw)

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Under discussion

Jabu Mbalula, the newly elected provincial spokesperson, said he could not confirm Ntombela and Siyonzana’s recall. He did, however, confirm that discussions on these matters were under way and the outcomes would be communicated on Tuesday, 7 February.

He said discussions were focused on assessing the ANC’s performance in the province.

“If we come to a determination that our performance has not been good … we need to make changes and have cadres and members of the organisation who will be fit for purpose…

“If it means that we shall have to have a new premier, if it means we shall have new MECs … if it means that in certain municipalities, we will have to change mayors … we will do so… 

“We are looking at institutions, we are looking at provincial government and the entire public administration – and that includes provincial departments and municipalities,” Mbalula said.

He confirmed that the decision to recall Siyonzana, council speaker Zanele Sifuba and chief whip Vusi Tshabalala had been under discussion since the PIC had indicated that there had been a breakdown in the trio’s working relationship.  

“It’s a matter of it being processed through the relevant structures of the movement. The PEC yesterday impressed on members that the issue of Mangaung must be given special attention in terms of local government and be concluded expeditiously,” Mbalula said. 

Mangaung is one of 10 municipalities flagged by the Auditor-General in her latest report as having ongoing concerns for five years. Maluleke said municipalities in the Free State had “gone backwards” in meeting deadlines for infrastructure improvement projects.

Plans for a possible provincial reconfiguration were first mentioned by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula at the party’s 111th anniversary celebrations in the province on 8 January.

Read more in Daily Maverick:Fikile Mbalula berates ANC officials after party bigwigs get a close-up view of potholed Free State

Commenting on the poor state of the province, particularly the Mangaung metro, Mbalula promised that officials not doing their work would be shown the door. 

City Press reported this weekend that other FS MECs whose fate is in the balance include:

  • Health MEC Montseng Tsiu;
  • Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Makalo Mohale;
  • Police, Roads and Transport MEC William Bulwane;
  • Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Thembeni Nxangisa;
  • Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC Limakatso Mahasa;
  • Social Development MEC Mamiki Qabathe;
  • and Finance MEC Gadija Brown. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Another ANC deployment f… up. Viva, ANC, Viva.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Makes me laugh that Gwede announced that the provincial government “had become dysfunctional”….rather like the pot calling the kettle black, isn’t it?!!!

  • Mike Meyer says:

    A vain hope I know, but maybe, just maybe getting rid of Police, Roads and Transport MEC William Bulwane will see the disgrace that is the R26 and the R711 repaired. In a just world this muppet would be forced to spend the rest of his life fixing potholes.

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