Sihle Zikalala. Picture: THULI DLAMINI
Sihle Zikalala. Picture: THULI DLAMINI

Newly inaugurated KwaZulu-Natal premier Sihle Zikalala announced his provincial cabinet on Monday, and it was not without a few surprises.

About 200 guests‚ including former president Jacob Zuma‚ controversial eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and police minister Bheki Cele‚ attended Zikalala’s inauguration in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.

The event‚ which was downsized to save costs‚ took place at the premier’s Parkside residence, instead of being the usual grand affair at the Royal Showgrounds.

Zuma did not attend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration in Pretoria on Saturday‚ claiming he was too busy with his legal battles.

Zikalala’s cabinet includes Bongi Sithole-Moloi as MEC for agriculture and rural development, Hlengiwe Mavimbela as head of the arts and culture‚ sports and recreation department, and Sipho Hlomuka as the MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs.

Mxolisi Kaunda was retained as the MEC for transport‚ community safety and liaison while the ANC Youth League leader  Kwazi Mshengu got the education portfolio.  Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu heads the crucial health portfolio in place of Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo. The former education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni‚ who resigned from her post in 2016‚ makes a comeback as the public works MEC.

Former public works MEC Ravi Pillay has taken over the provincial treasury‚ while former cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube took over Zikalala’s former position as MEC for economic development.

Zikalala‚ during his address said:  “South Africans want action and not just words and promises. And there will be action.

“Over the next few weeks ... the incoming administration will consolidate and begin to implement a comprehensive plan to ensure growth and development of our province.”

His priorities include tackling basic service delivery‚ job creation‚ growing the economy and the provision of housing.