Profile of Hon Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) (March 2019)
Dr Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize currently serves as the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), after his appointment into the portfolio on 26 February 2018.
He served as Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal from 2009 to 2017.
He is a medical doctor by profession, and completed the MBCHB degree at the University of Natal in 1982. He practised as a medical doctor at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg and at Themba Hospital in Kabokweni, Mpumalanga.
Dr Mkhize has distinguished himself through diligent, meticulous, and hands-on approach to his work over many years in the various portfolios in which he served.
Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Since his appointment as Minister of CoGTA he has, working with various stakeholders spared no effort in addressing the underlying causes of the various challenges affecting the municipalities in the country in order to improve services to the people and enhance the contribution of local government to economic growth and development in the country. Dr Mkhize leads and champions the Municipal Recovery Programme, a multi-stakeholder and multi-sphere initiative to improve the conditions in the various municipalities in the country which he launched in April 2018.
His passion for good governance, properly functioning and responsive government institutions has been borne out in the various positions that he has held before especially in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
KZN Department of Health
Dr Mkhize served as MEC for Health for ten years from 1994 to 2004, arguably becoming the longest serving provincial health MEC in the country. Prior to this, that is, between 1991 and 1994, he served as a member of the ANC’s National Health Secretariat, a structure which was tasked with the responsibility of developing the country’s health policy. As MEC for Health, among his achievements was ensuring that about 11 000 patients were already on anti-retroviral drugs in 2004. Dr Mkhize also set a strong foundation for the war against cholera, as no fatality case was reported in the period from 2005 to 2009. He was appointed Honorary Colonel of the KZN Area Military Health Unit in August 2004. Dozens of clinics were constructed during his tenure as MEC, to promote primary health care in the province.
KZN Department of Finance and Economic Development
Dr Mkhize was appointed MEC for Finance and Economic Development and leader of Government Business in KwaZulu-Natal from 2004 and 2009. Under his leadership as Premier, he championed the provincial recovery plan in 2009, an austerity initiative which saved the province the prospect of massive over-expenditure of R4.5 billion at the beginning of his term. So ground-breaking were these measures that the National Treasury even adopted them at national level to be countrywide cost-saving initiatives.
Dr Mkhize played an active role in the promotion of peace and stability in the KwaZulu-Natal province and also contributed to the successful hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer tournament as the Chairperson of the 2010 World Cup Political Oversight Committee between 2006 and 2010.
Office of the Premier, KwaZulu-Natal
Under his stewardship as Premier, KZN rose from the third to the second largest economy in the country, recording a GDP of R322 billion. Economic growth in 2012 outperformed the national economy, at 2.95% to 2.55%. At the point of his resignation as Premier, the KZN Growth Index had increased by 16,7% since 2010. During the same period, the KZN Barometer recorded an increase of 18%, while the KZN Government Monitor increased by 20%.
It was during his time in the provincial government that other pioneer programmes such as Operation Sukuma Sakhe, United Front Against Crime and Lungisisa Indlela Village for example, were adopted as service delivery, crime fighting and social care strategies respectively.
Dr Mkhize was voted the best Premier by the Institute for Democracy in South Africa Barometer Survey in April 2012. The Afrobarometer survey coordinated by Idasa saw Dr Mkhize getting the highest approval rating in the country, at 73 percent.
As Premier, he developed an image of a clean and hardworking government which was in line with the objectives of the African National Congress. The results of this important survey were a clear indication that the KwaZulu-Natal ANC-led government took issues of service delivery seriously and was implementing the programmes of the ANC properly. Importantly, Hon Mkhize and his cabinet put in place measures to root out corruption, an aspect which was also cited in this survey.
KZN hosted the first ever Integrity Leadership Conference in 2011, as part of the efforts aimed at promoting integrity within government departments. The focus was on individual consciences as opposed to relying on legislative and regulatory prescripts in the fight against corruption and maladministration. His favourite refrain was: We say “I do right -even when nobody is watching”. Under Dr Zweli Mkhize’s steward leadership, KwaZulu-Natal implemented measures to ensure that KwaZulu-Natal did not fall into financial doldrums as a result of recession.
At the beginning of his term of office, Dr Mkhize ensured that KwaZulu-Natal paid an overdraft of R3 billion. KwaZulu-Natal received accolades from the former Auditor General, Terrence Nombembe, for major improvements in managing public funds. KZN was given a clean audit for the 2010/2011 financial year.
Positions in the ANC
He held various positions in the ANC. These included Treasurer of the Natal Midlands region in the years 1991 to 1997, and provincial Treasurer in the years 1994-1997. He also served as Deputy Provincial Chairperson of the ANC from 1998, a position to which he was re-elected in 2002. In 2008 he was elected provincial ANC Chairperson in KZN, a position in which he served until 2013.
As a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, Dr Mkhize served as Chairperson of the ANC’s National Education and Health Sub-Committee.
In 2012 Dr Mkhize was elected as Treasurer-General of the African National Congress at its 53rd National Conference in Mangaung, a position he held until the 54th ANC National Conference in December 2017. In this position, he established the Progressive Citizens Forum, in which professionals contribute their talents and financial resources to the ANC. He also worked closely with the Progressive Professionals Forum, Black Management Forum and various organisations representing black professionals, promoting access to the governing party so that they could understand the policies better and participate in shaping them. He also organised the various sectors to promote transformation in the economy, in sectors such as construction and automotive industries to name some.
At the 54th national conference Dr Mkhize was elected into the National Executive Committee again, and was appointed chairperson of the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Committee of the ANC.
Internationally Dr Mkhize promoted party to party relations through working with fraternal former liberation movements. He has also kept close links with historical allies, African American leaders such as Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson nurturing friendships with South Africa.
Dr Mkhize is the chairperson of the Ikusasa Le Afrika Foundation through which he promotes education and youth development and excellence. The Foundation is running a project of revitalizing historical schools such as Dlangezwa, Marianhill, Inkamana and others as part of promoting our education heritage. It also promotes ICT development and appreciation among young people through projects run with the SABC such as Africa Teen Geeks.
Dr Mkhize has demonstrated passion for service delivery and real change for the better in the lives of the people, and is a pro-active leader who engages all parties on the ground to continually seek solutions to the challenges affecting the communities and this country.
He sees a brighter future for the country through investment in the youth and in sustainable economic growth and development.