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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor

A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Please don’t block Gauteng, Lesufi

At a time when Gauteng residents need him the most, Lesufi is distracted with his political game of chicken.

Remember when your “best friend” in primary school played with someone else at break? Or when your high school crush was suddenly always “offline” when you tried to chat? Don’t forget the pain of being ghosted after a few dates when you thought things were going well.

Humans have always found ways to ignore others when they want to break up.

For Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, it is the social media block button.

A broken cabinet?

Lesufi unveiled his provincial executive this week. It excluded the second-largest party in the province, the DA, after coalition negotiations between the two collapsed.

But the long-awaited cabinet announcement was nearly hijacked this week by dozens of requests from users on X for the premier to unblock them.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: ‘Bunch of losers’: Even in defeat, the ANC and DA refuse to be humble

Those looking for love back were there to either congratulate him for “putting the DA in its place” or wanted a fresh round to ridicule his decision-making.

Back from the ‘dead’

In the “marriage of convenience” between the ANC and DA nationally, Lesufi abandoned the bride and turned to the forbidden mistress to do his bidding.

His minority government relies on goodwill and a “trust me, bro” pact with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and MK party, two parties that the Government of National Unity (GNU) left in the relative political wilderness with its formation.

Lesufi had breathed new life into a predicted death of EFF power at local government level and legitimised a rudderless uMkhontho weSizwe party currently in structural shambles.

It’s a reckless gamble that shows rare political courage but could also lead to political ruin.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Beware! Inequality will ruin GNU’s marriage of convenience

Lesufi has responded to the coalition that put him back in power by going his own way.

He was reined in twice and told not to go ahead with his plan, the voices of factions and ego speak louder.

‘It’s about me’

Lesufi is a stereotypical politician, obsessed with his image to a level that makes even Fikile Mbalula, Julius Malema and Gayton McKenzie blush. He is happiest when he is in the spotlight and being praised.

This was evident in his defiant reaction to a recent letter that his amaPanyaza crime wardens had been disbanded. He went far and wide to declare that he had not been consulted.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: The ANC and others are about to learn that ‘after school is after school’

The decision by the acting head of the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment to disband the unit after its contracts ended will show you that there are people eager to move on, whether because they are of another faction or because the political wind is changing, but Lesufi wants to continue his own course.

A questionable team

While the premier has the discretion to decide who he wants in his cabinet, in the similar way President Cyril Ramaphosa did nationally, he should back up his gutsy move with a strong executive that will prove all his critics wrong.

His team should be as present and hard-working as he is, and make Gauteng a powerhouse. The reward for this will see the ANC return to an absolute majority in Gauteng and his reported aspirations to national leadership assured.

Instead, we got the corruption-allegations-muddied Lebohang Maile and “combi court” queen Faith Mazibuko who has been accused of being ineffective, racist, and bullying staff members during her more than 20 years in the leadership of the province.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Look out below! We live in cities stolen piece by piece

Both have been in MEC chairs so long the leather has worn. Their access cards are as faded as public trust in them.

“We’ll hire dogs to protect schools” Matome Chiloane is retained, as is Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko whose previous department was accused of paying double for expenses after entering alleged dodgy tenders.

Potholes have got larger and taxi wars have flared up again under MEC Kedibone Diale-Tlabela and she will get another go at the wheel.

Put Gauteng first

More than any other time the performance of Lesufi’s MECs will be a direct reflection on him. Scrutiny will fall on him at every turn.

At a time when Gauteng residents need him the most, they hope he will not ignore them.

As they battle water and power issues, as illegal immigration mushrooms like the piles of litter on the street, Lesufi must not run to play with political friends.

ALSO READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: Old enough for power but too old to be embarrassed?

When people feel unsafe walking the streets of Joburg, Tshwane, Midvaal, Mogale City, Emfuleni and Ekhurhuleni, he can’t blue tick us.

As road and rail infrastructure continue to take a wrong turn, we cannot find the premier offline.

When over 15 million citizens or more than 1 in 3 adults in the province sit unemployed, and so many skip meals or sleep on the streets, our leader cannot ghost us.

When the going gets tough, as it most definitely will over the next five years, the worst thing Lesufi and his executive can do is block us.

NOW READ: A VIEW OF THE WEEK: It’s getting cold but Ramaphosa won’t be frozen out just yet

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