Drum – 22 August 2019

(Jacob Rumans) #1

10 |^22 AUGUST^2019 http://www.drum.co.za


Dubbed the people’s premier, Northern

Cape leader Zamani Saul shares his plans

to overhaul the poorest province



IS office on the sixth
floor of the provincial
legislature building in
Kimberley is strikingly
There are no portraits
of the new premier on
the wall and nothing
flash or fancy about the place – the desk,

strewn with documents and files, is like
every other hard-working person’s space.
And this is the way Northern Cape
premier Zamani Saul wants it. He’s here

to do a job, not splash cash around.
There will be no unnecessary red carpet
events on his watch, no luxury vehicles
for him and his officials and no credit

card splurges.
His predecessor, Sylvia Lucas, used her
state credit card to buy R50 000 worth

of fast food during her first 10 weeks in
office but Saul is cut from a different
cloth. And it’s been getting him plenty
of attention.

Ever since the 47-year-old was ap-
pointed leader of the country’s largest
and poorest province, he has made it

clear he’s here to get the job done, not
feather his own nest.
His administration will be cutting back
on all unnecessary expenditure and Saul

is leading by example.
He brings his own lunch to work, there
will be no more luxury five-star hotel
stays for him and his administration and

when he travels he shops around for
deals. “I’m going to Tanzania next week
and I’m using Mango, not SAA,” he says.

And he doesn’t need police guards,
he adds. In his 11 years as the ANC’s pro-
vincial leader he’s never had a death
threat and with police in the province

stretched thin already, why should he

commandeer a val-
uable resource?
The Northern
Cape has the high-
est rate of unem-
ployed young peo-
ple and 54% of
households are
poverty- stricken,
with almost 500 000
social grant bene-
“I can tell you
now, you’re in the
poorest province,”
Saul says.
He has bold planstogethis
province on track bypushingevery
available cent towardsimprovingthe
lives of his people.
First on the agenda wasradical
cost-cutting measuresforgovernment
officials: no longer willtheylivethehigh
life while their constituentsscrapeby.
He put his moneywherehismouth
was from day one, savingR1millionon
the event to mark hisstateoftheprov-
ince address – therewasnoredcarpet,
no fancy décor and the3 000guestswere
served pre-packed food.
“I don’t care what the ministerial
handbook says,” Saul says. “We are dedi-
cating every cent to improving lives.”


HERE’S plenty that keeps the
premier awake at night.
For instance, construction
on a new mental health hos-
pital began in 2007 and was
meant to open in 2009 at a
cost of R300m. But that project got
“messed up”, with a cost overrun of R1,
billion and will only be opening next

month – a full decade behind schedule.
“We could have built at least three
more hospitals with that money,” Saul
“That’s reality.”
Despite all this, he remains hopeful
about the challenges facing his province
and the country. “We can make a major
dent, we just need to be focused.”
Saul is aware that some people are
sceptical about his promises and
it’s  understandable, he says, given the
trust deficit between politicians and


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