Lydia Johnson has been removed from her post as KZN’s MEC for agriculture, environmental affairs and rural development, after premier Dr Zweli Mkhize announced a major cabinet reshuffle in the provincial executive.
Social development MEC Meshack Hadebe will take over the portfolio, while human settlements MEC Maggie Govender was also axed.
No reasons were given for the reshuffle, but Dr Mkhize recently said he intended to assess MECs’ performance in order to speed up service delivery in the province. IFP leader of the opposition, Blessed Gwala, recently called on Dr Mkhize to replace Hadebe, Johnson and Govender, all of whom the party considered to be non-performers.
“The three least-performing KZN departments have a history of poor service delivery coupled with a lack of political leadership and ongoing investigations into mismanagement, fraud and corruption,” Gwala said. Robin Barnsley, vice-president of farmers union Kwanalu, said the union did not have a lot of contact with Johnson when she was MEC. “We felt the department generally hasn’t shown a lot of interest in the commercial farming sector. I say that with particular reference to the department’s budget speeches in a number of years, where the word ‘commercial’ does not even feature.”
Barnsley said KZN agriculture’s problems required more attention than just removing the person at the helm. “There are structural and deeply political issues that need to be looked at if we want to see the sector thriving.” – Robyn Joubert