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Letsoha-Mathae takes over as Free State premier

MAQUEEN Letsoha-Mathae has been elected as premier of the Free State province, replacing Mxolisi Dukwana who had only been in the office for a year.

The 55-year-old political activist was sworn in during the provincial legislature’s sitting in Bloemfontein on Friday.

The ANC put Letsoha-Mathae forward as its preferred candidate for the premier’s position after she outshone the incumbent during the party’s internal vetting process that followed South Africa’s elections held on 29 May.

Before rising to the top post, she was serving as the MEC for Community Safety, Roads and Transport under Dukwana’s administration.

“I am deeply honoured to serve as the premier of the Free State,” Letsoha-Mathae said after her swearing-in, presided over by Judge President C. Musi of the Free State High Court.

“Together, we will work tirelessly to build a prosperous and inclusive province where every citizen has the opportunity to thrive,” she added.

In its congratulatory message, the ANC said in Letsoha-Mathae the province has a premier whose “dedication and commitment to the wellbeing of our people will undoubtedly bring visible change to the Free State”.

“As the ANC in the Free State, we have faith in Comrade Matsoha-Lethae to steer our ship to great heights,” ANC Free State spokesperson Jabu Mbalula said in a statement.

“The ANC has been given a mandate by the people of the province to improve their basic living conditions and we are convinced that Comrade Letsoha-Mathae and her collective are equal to the task.

“Her election as the premier of our province is in line with the ANC’s long-held belief that our liberation will not be complete without the complete emancipation of women in our country.”

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party has, however, expressed scepticism about Letsoha-Mathae’s potential to bring significant change to the province, saying she did not “inspire confidence” during her tenure as the MEC for Community Safety, Roads and Transport.

“We are aware that changing a face in the ANC will not change the party,” the DA’s Free State provincial leader, Roy Jankielsohn, said.

Meanwhile, the ANC’s Ntombizanele Sifuba has been retained as speaker of the Free State Legislature.

Party colleague Julia Maboya comes in as her deputy.

The recent national elections saw the ANC winning 51.87 percent of the vote in the Free State, giving the party 16 seats in the provincial legislature.

The DA, second with 21.88 percent of the vote, claimed seven seats, while the Economic Freedom Fighters took four seats after finishing third with 13.52 percent of the vote.

The Freedom Front Plus, uMkhonto weSizwe and the African Congress for Transformation got a seat apiece to complete the 30-member provincial legislature. – Staff Reporter

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