Who is Gauteng’s new MEC for egovernment & what are his plans?

  • Gauteng’s local leadership has had a major face change in recent weeks, including the appointment of a new MEC for egovernment.
  • Mzikayifani Khumalo, the new MEC, is a career politician, but we’re not sure about his credentials in digital or tech.
  • His department has announced a new mandate moving into the future – fighting crime.

The winds of change have swept through Gauteng’s provincial government in the last few weeks, and not without significant controversy. On 9th October, the full cabinet of the new Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi was announced, including a new MEC for egovernment.

Obviously, we were intrigued so we did some digging to find out who the new MEC, Mzikayifani Khumalo, is.

Khumalo was the former mayor of Randfontein Local Municipality and Rand West City Municipality. A career ANC politician, Khumalo has served as a member of the provincial legislator since 2019 and has previously served as chief whip of the majority party.

Now he is set to wear several hats for the premier’s government, including leadership of the departments of egovernance, cooperative governance and traditional affairs, and research and development for Gauteng. He replaces Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, who has been shifted to the position of MEC for health and wellness in the province.

We’re not sure how much experience the new MEC has in the technology or digital sectors. He seems to have only made a Twitter account in the last few days. Egovernment MECs should probably be up to date with their social media anyway.

Egovernance has only recently entered the South African lexicon and Gauteng remains the singular province in the country to have an entire department dedicated to the concept. The department’s roles include the rolling out of a network infrastructure that will, “connect government facilities, including schools, hospitals, offices and economic zones.”

It also endeavours to create new digital platforms and support and promote eservices, stimulate the ICT economy through “facilitating incubation and innovation” and encourage private and public partnerships for the development and rollout of egovernment services.

Last week, Gauteng pledged R100 million in a renewed effort to “ignite” the local economy in townships. However, it now looks like the department has a new mandate, according to recent communications from Gauteng egovernment.

In fact, Khumalo recently spoke with Premier Lesufi about the latter’s vision for the department moving forward. Their first course of action? “Fighting crime through smart technology.”

Speaking today, Lesufi said that the department of egovernance will serve as the “back end” behind law enforcement and crime fighting. “Which simply means we need an integrated intelligence operation centre which can pull everyone in the fight against crime”, he said.

He added that the department would serve as the “brains” behind the province’s crime-fighting force. Lesufi added that the development of this intelligence platform would be a massive task.

Lesufi says that the provincial government will be introducing an “epanic button.” Which would serve as an app that people could use wherever they are if they feel threatened, “and our law enforcement will come and rescue you,” he said.

Finally, the department will also work towards launching “high calibre facial recognition technology” for CCTVs in townships and informal settlements as well as the next generation of drone technology in a quest of “using technology to push back on criminality.”

Based on the premier’s lofty plans, it looks like Khumalo will be very busy indeed.

[Image – Twitter]


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