Hon. Nkadimeng – Developing a Good Story

By Koketso Mamabolo

Our immediate task at hand is to up the ante and herald a new sense of urgency in how we have been working,” said Honourable Thembi Nkadimeng, who was announced as the new Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) in March 2023 as part of President Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle. She was speaking at the CoGTA’s first staff meeting, in early May, following her appointment along with Deputy Ministers Hon. Parks Tau (Department of Cooperative Governance) and Hon. Prince Burns-Ncamashe (Department of Traditional Affairs).

“Our mandate, explicitly clear, is to give meaning to the spirit of cooperative governance and inter-governmental relations as encapsulated in the constitution,” said the Minister, addressing staff, including the director generals of both departments within the ministry, as well as Section 154 of the Constitution which tacitly articulates our mandate in terms of giving support to the 257 municipalities across the board. And in giving that support, it goes without saying that we must organise ourselves in such a manner that we will make a difference and positively impact the lives of South African citizens.”

Hailing from the Mpumalanga province, Hon. Nkadimeng’s political career began while she was a student. A member of COSAS at the time, she served in different roles, notably as Regional Co-ordinator for what was then known as the Eastern Transvaal. While at the University of the North she was elected as SASCO’s Provincial Secretary as well as Deputy President of the Student Representative Council.

The holder of BPhil in Policy Studies from University of Stellenbosch and an Honours degree from the University of the North, Hon. Nkadimeng has served in various leadership roles since the late 1990s, both in the private and public sectors. Between 1997 and 2009 she held management positions in different spheres of government, including Chief Director of Corporate Services for the Department of Agriculture and Deputy Director for Communication Services in the Department of Public Works. In 2009 she joined Anglo American Platinum as their Corporate Affairs Manager.

Her return to public service in 2014 came when she was appointed Executive Mayor of Polokwane, a position she held for seven years. Hon. Nkadimeng also served as the National President of the South African Local Government Association from 2019 to 2021, when President Ramaphosa appointed her as Deputy Minister of CoGTA. Besides the two departments which fall under the ministry, there are three entities which report to the Minister: Salga, The Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) and the South African Cities Network (SACN). The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) reports to the Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance.

“We are a chosen team of men and women of high moral ethical fibre, a 900-plus workforce of mandarins tasked with building a developmental government in South Africa, consistent with the philosophical injunction of the National Development Plan,” said the Minister, at one of her first staff meetings. The expectations are high, and the challenges are huge in return, however; not insurmountable. We have the ability to turn around this department and write a good story as part of the 6th Administration. Through our flagship programme, the District Development Model, we are tasked to ensure government in its entirety works as a coherent machinery.

This can only happen if we are internally organised at the level of strategy, policy, resources, systems, and human capital. We must also ensure that we harness our collective value system of a transformed public service as espoused in section 195 of the Constitution and clearly spelled out in the Batho Pele principles. Our founding father of public service, Prof [Stan] Sangweni always reminded us that Batho Pele principles are not a slogan but represent a policy statement of a truly transformed public service in line with the value system of a democratic state.”

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