'They call me papa action' — Inside Kenny Kunene's plan to be Gauteng premier

03 July 2023 - 18:52 By SINESIPHO SCHRIEBER
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Kenny Kunene vying to be premier of Gauteng.
Kenny Kunene vying to be premier of Gauteng.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The Patriotic Alliance received less than 2% of votes in Gauteng in the local government elections, but Kenny Kunene believes he could become premier in 2024.

Kunene has been nominated as the party’s candidate for premier in the 2024 national and provincial government elections.  

Speaking to TimesLIVE, Kunene said he was not deterred by the relatively low votes the party received in the municipal elections. 

“In 2016, we had only two councillors in Gauteng and in 2021 we had 16 councillors.”

Kunene said his work as MMC for finance in Johannesburg since February would pave the way for him to become premier.  

“The people of Gauteng, everywhere I go, they tell me they see the work I am doing. It is them who said, ‘let this man be the mayor or premier’. In two days as an acting mayor, I got this country talking because I am an action man, they call me papa action.

“I am committed to service delivery because I am in politics to serve our people, not for my stomach, God blessed me too much.”

Kunene said his priority would be crime prevention and addressing unemployment.

He promised to employ people permanently for crime prevention initiatives and maintenance of government infrastructure.

“Unemployment is high in Gauteng. It is disappointing, because Gauteng is supposed to be the economic hub of Africa. You cannot give people temporary dignity, you must give people long-lasting dignity.  

“If you employ people to maintain infrastructure, we won’t have to spend millions on infrastructure collapse. You have to employ thousands of people to maintain the infrastructure in Gauteng. 

“We will ensure infrastructure is more sustainable and it will assist economic stimulation job growth,” he said.

Civil servants' salaries in 2021 was reported to cost R635bn a year. Asked how his employment plans might affect the growing wage bill, Kunene said it was an issue national government should deal with.

“How much money is dedicated to commissions that are useless? The recommendations are never implemented. They must use that for employment.”

Kunene said as a former English teacher he was not impressed with the province’s 84.4% matric pass rate.

“Education is close to my heart; we will come up with ways of monitoring the performance of teachers and principals. We will ensure schools with security challenges, we permanently employ people to make sure the schools feel safe, and quality of education is provided to children.

“So that the middle class is not under pressure to take their children to private schools.”

Kunene vowed to change the face of administration, adding he would scrap “useless positions”.

“There are a lot of positions which I deem to be useless. If I am the premier, Gauteng will go through an administrative review.  

“I am not saying I want to fire them [people in ‘useless positions’], but I will take them to where they can be useful, instead of bloating entities and departments with useless people.

“At Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) we have such a big IT team which is supposed to be support staff. I told them we need to reduce that IT team. The core mandate is to fix roads.

“We do not even have IT infrastructure at JRA, R23m was paid but IT infrastructure was not established, we are investigating.” 

While some backed his plans, others expressed their concerns.

Here are some reactions from social media: 

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