By Bhekisisa Mncube
Pietermaritzburg – Senzo Edward Mchunu (55), the former Education MEC, has been sworn in as KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier.
The move follows the resignation of Dr Zweli Mkhize a month ago, to take up his full-time position as the Treasurer-General of the African National Congress (ANC) at the party headquarters, Luthuli House, in Johannesburg.
Mchunu won by 50 votes. He defeated the DA candidate Sizwe Mchunu (7 votes) and the IFP candidate Blessed Gwala (14 votes).
The KwaZulu-Natal Judge President, Justice Chimanlal Patel, presided over both the occasions – firstly at the premier’s election at the old Colonial Assembly in Pietermaritzburg, and later at the swearing in ceremony held at the local stadium.
Mchunu took oath of office at exactly 12:38pm on Thursday in front of over 5 000 guests.
“I do solemnly and sincerely promise at all times to promote that which will advance and to oppose all that may harm the Republic and province of KwaZulu-Natal; to obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other Laws of the Republic; to discharge my duties with all my strength and talents to the best of my knowledge and ability and true to the dictates of my conscience; to do justice to all; and to devote myself to the well-being of the people of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Mchunu as he read the oath of office before Justice Patel.
In his acceptance speech, Mchunu waxed lyrical about his predecessor Dr Zweli Mkhize. He said Mkhize had 19 years of a distinguished career as the servant of the people of KwaZulu-Natal. Mkhize joined the KZN provincial government in 1994. He served as the MEC for Health for 10 years, MEC for Finance for five years and later as premier since 2009.
“The highlight of Mkhize’s legacy will remain his humbleness and determination. He turned around a deficit of R5 billion into a surplus of R3 billion within a short space of time,” the new premier said.
In the area of HIV/Aids, Mchunu praised Mkhize for “relentlessly doing a sterling job”, saying the province had turned the corner in this regard.
In the remaining seven months of this administration’s term, Mchunu said the focus will be on ensuring peace and stability in the province, which can only be achieved through cooperation “by putting a high premium on human life and prevent killings as we move towards general elections in 2014”.
Another area of focus, he added, was greater delivery on the basic needs of the people and economic development.
High unemployment, inadequate food production, poverty, corruption and under development in rural areas were the areas of concern for the Mchunu. He said they would continue to place an emphasis on providing opportunities for education and training for young people in the province, especially through improving the education system.
He also announced a new MEC for Education will be appointed on Thursday next week.
“There will be no wholesale changes in government. We will continue to pursue existing policies with even greater vigour,” Mchunu said. – SAnews.gov.za