New KZN Education MEC announced

Senzo Mchunu

Senzo Mchunu

Durban – KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu has announced the appointment of the current Provincial Legislature Speaker, Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni, as the new MEC for Education.

The move follows the elevation last month of the then Education MEC Senzo Mchunu to the position of premier of the province.

Speaking to reporters at the premier’s office in Durban on Monday, Mchunu said Nkonyeni was “a loyal and dedicated servant of the people”.

Deputy Judge President Achmat Jappie presided over the swearing in ceremony.

“I have no doubt that with her determination and qualifications, we will continue to see improvement in the quality of education and improvement in the matriculation pass rate,” the premier said.

He warned the new appointee that the Education Department was a tough portfolio, and that all “eyes and ears” would be on her throughout the year.

“It requires one to work an 18-hour day. The Education Department is also the only government department that writes exams at the end of every year. So you will be judged by the outcomes of learners,” he said.

However, Mchunu said he had faith in Nkonyeni because she was teacher by profession. She taught for 10 years from 1989 to 1999. She holds a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma.

She has been a member of the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature since 1999. Among her many achievements, she is the former African National Congress (ANC) Whip, chairperson of the Parliamentary Women’s Caucus, and chairperson of various committees. She was also at the forefront of the establishment of the Office for the Status of Women in the Premier’s Office.

Before becoming the Legislature Speaker in May 2009, she had served as the Health MEC from November 2004 to April 2009.

In her acceptance speech, Nkonyeni said she was humbled by her new deployment. “I express my gratitude to the Premier …  I am committing myself to work hard to continue the good work started by my predecessor, Senzo Mchunu. I have very big boots to fill. Mchunu had introduced very innovative strategies in dealing head-on with challenges in education.

“It is this legacy of excellence and innovation that needs to be maintained,” she said.

She said her immediate challenge was to ensure the smooth running of the 2013 matrics final exams. –

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