Who’s who in education in the provinces

Here are a few excerpts from an article written by By Thabo Mohlala and Ryan Hoffmann in The Teacher on the new education MEC’s in each province.  You can find the whole article here.

Namane Dickson Masemola
Previous position: Former acting MEC for the department of roads and transport
What he brings to education: All indications are Masemola is a hands-on man and a consultative leader, but stakeholders have adopted a “wait and see” stance. He has not wasted time on the job and has set up meetings with unions and other role players to discuss the way forward in the province —- this is important because of the province’s poor showing in the 2008 national senior certificate exam with a pass rate of only 54.3%. His experience as the executive mayor of the Greater Sekhukhune District Municipality should serve him well in his dealings with the district education offices.

North West
“OJ” Tselapedi
Previous position: Education MEC since 2004
What he brings to education: Tselapedi is one of a few education MECs to retain his position in the provincial government. This could be a reward for the improvement of grade 12 passes from 64.9% in 2004 when he took office to 68% in 2008. Hailed for his management skills, Tselapedi’s retention could point at the commitment of the new provincial leadership to prioritise education through retention of Tselapedi.

Free State
Tate Makgoe
Previous position: Former MEC for finance
What he brings to education: Having served in the provincial legislature since 1994, Makgoe brings a wealth of experience to the table and has a steady track record in the province, particularly for his consistent leadership in his previous portfolio. He holds a master’s degree in business leadership from Unisa, which should come in handy in a provincial depart-ment of education that is financially crippled.

Northern Cape
Griselda Cjiekella
Previous position: Former deputy speaker in the provincial legislature
What she brings to education: Cjiekella is a surprise appointment. She takes over from stand-in education MEC John Block, who has been standing in for former MEC Archie Lucas since December 2008. It’s not clear why Cjiekella was chosen for this portfolio because she has little experience in education except for a short-lived career as a teacher. Opposition parties in the province described her as a “very good deputy speaker and wonderful person” but these qualities might not be enough to tackle the education challenges in South Africa’s largest province.

Regina Mhaule
Previous position: Mhaule is a former mayor and speaker of the Mbombela Municipality in the province
What she brings to education: Having been mayor and speaker, Mhaule is well versed in local and governance issues but relatively inexperienced when it comes to education issues, say provincial observers, who claim the provincial education department faces myriad serious challenges, including administrative difficulties, and requires an experienced hand to hit the ground running. Mpumalanga was the province that had the biggest problems with the late release of grade 12 results last year. The department’s weak administrative abilities were blamed for this.

Senzo Mchunu
Previous position:
Former ANC secretary general in KwaZulu-Natal
What he brings to education: Mchunu was the chairperson of the education portfolio committee in the provincial legislature. This experience must have given him a sense of the nature and scope of educational challenges in the province. The fact that he was a chief administrative officer in the ANC should count in his favour to take the province to the next level by hastening policy implementation and ensuring rural schools receive proper and adequate resources. Last year the grade 12 pass rate was 57.6%. Although he does not have the experience of running a big structure like a ministry, this should not be a problem if he retains Dr Cassius Lubisi as his head of department for support and guidance.

Barbara Creecy
Previous position: MEC of sport, arts, culture and recreation
What she brings to education: Creecy is not new to education. From 2001 to 2004 she was the head of the provincial portfolio committee. She has extensive experience as an adult educator, community field worker and organisational development specialist.

Western Cape
Donald Grant
Previous position: A former DA municipal councillor of Bitou in the Southern Cape and a businessman with an MBA
What he brings to education: He brings little education skills to this critical portfolio. His biggest asset is the managerial skills he acquired through his involvement in business. He is a political novice having joined mainstream politics only this year. Grant acknowledges his need to learn; he reportedly said after learning of his appointment that he would have “to do crash courses on education”.

Eastern Cape
Mahlubandile Qwase
Previous position: MEC for education
What he brings to education: He has a thorough knowledge of the problems bedevilling the province, having been in the position since September last year. He was also the head of the provincial portfolio committee of education. He has won confidence from all major role players in the province since his appointment last year. He has been described as a “workaholic” and a “good listener”, who is “open to suggestions”. He is seen as the right person to unravel the chaotic state of education in the province.


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