Panyaza Lesufi: I am not fixated with being Premier of Gauteng, but will continue serving people

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. File Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Media

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. File Picture: Timothy Bernard/Independent Media

Published Jun 3, 2024


Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi on Monday said he was not fixated with being the number one citizen of South Africa’s economic heartbeat province, but is willing play a role in taking forward the province he has led for less than two years.

Although the ANC in Gauteng chaired by Lesufi has received the highest number of votes in the May 29 elections, the support base has significantly dropped to 35% – necessitating coalition talks led by the ANC at national level with rival political party leaders.

In an interview with broadcaster eNCA on Monday, Lesufi said he felt honoured to have led South Africa’s most populous province, but does not feel entitled to remain at the helm.

“What will happen will be determined by our national government but we are open-minded. We really believe that we must not put our interests of political parties and interests of political leaders above the interests of our people.

“I am honestly impatient with the high number of crime in our province, I am impatient with the slow pace of development in our townships, informal settlements and hostels, and I am indeed impatient with the dirtiness of our province. You go to every corner of our province, it is dirty, refuse is not collected, traffic lights are not functional, our CBDs, all of them, have literally collapsed.

“We just need a new idea on how to lead our province, a new idea on how to ensure that Gauteng remains a competitive, attractive province for investment. I am not preoccupied with who must be part of our government, who must be a premier or MEC – that is secondary to me,” he said.

Lesufi said it is of utmost importance to find alliance partners with a shared vision, and the partnership would be strong in running Gauteng.

“We have to let go of our historical challenges either separatism or economic imbalances. We just have to formulate a new way of taking our country forward, and our voters have sent us that message. We just have to embrace it and move forward.

“Where we are, it is not a disaster, it needs maturity. It needs being open-minded and it also needs leaders to put aside their self interests and put the interests of the people above our own interests.”

Lesufi said he has made an impact during his tenure, and his leadership has meaningfully changed people’s lives in Gauteng. He, however, said continuing as premier or leaving the influential post is not up to him.

“It is not my choice, I am not fixated, I was not born a premier. I was not born an MEC, I was born Panyaza Lesufi. What we have deposited in the public space has demonstrated (our capability). Within 19 months there was nothing called Nasi ispani, within 19 months people did not have transformers, within 19 months young people that were staying at home are employed. As I am speaking to you now, almost 150,000 of them are not begging, they are having own salaries,” he said.

The Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens was one of Panyaza Lesufi’s flagship programmes. File Picture: Supplied

He said within the 18 months he has served as premier of Gauteng, crime was significantly pushed back in the province.

“This is not about me. If it is about me being premier at all costs, then we have missed the point. I was not an activist, I was born to change lives and I will continue to do that, whether I have the political turf as chairperson or as a premier, I will continue to serve. That is what is important, that is what is good for our people. What is good for our people, what is good for our country – but above all, can we be competitive as a province, as a country,” he said.

“My position can be determined by whoever is mandated with the power. But I am grateful, I was given opportunity to be premier. I never thought in my life I would be a premier. So my term is over, and if there is a new person that needs to take over, I would support that person or that organisation what has a new premier in our province. It must not be about us, but it must be about the society we represent.”

The election results presented to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) show that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has lost its 30-year long majority in the National Assembly, securing 159 out of the 400 seats in Parliament.

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Results Operation Centre during the national elections result announcement at Midrand, in Gauteng on Sunday night. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

The besieged ANC has also lost its majority in the provinces of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Northern Cape.