Johannesburg: At 8:45pm on Monday evening, Eric Xayiya, a member of the Gauteng Legislature, received a call from Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, calling him into a special meeting.
After the meeting – which took place on Tuesday morning – Xayiya was introduced to the media as the new MEC for Economic Development in a province that is South Africa’s economic hub.
Speaking to journalists from her Johannesburg offices, Mokonyane said she appointed Xayiya to fill the vacancy following the tragic passing of Nkosiphendule Kolisile, who was killed in a car accident together with his driver and protector on his way to attend a funeral in the Eastern Cape last month.
“The new MEC has experience in local government and was formerly the chairman of the Roads and Transport Sub-Committee in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.
“He is currently a member of the Oversight Committee on the Office of the Premier in the Legislature,” Mokonyane said.
Xayiya joins the department at a time that the province, under Kolisile, was in the process of implementing several measures aimed at tackling socio-economic challenges like poverty, unemployment and inequality through initiatives such as Township Enterprise Hubs.
“The appointment comes into effect immediately to continue on the departed MEC’s innovative measures that ensure the provincial economy is inclusive and benefits informal traders, youth, small businesses and co-operatives.
“I trust MEC Xayiya will receive support in his course to pursuing and sustaining Gauteng’s profile as an economic hub of sub-Saharan and South Africa.”
Xayiya was immediately sworn in by High Court Judge Neels Claassen.
Speaking after being sworn in, Xayiya said he was still shocked that he was handpicked to replace Kolisile, and added that he had big shoes to fill.
“I must indicate that I’m very shocked … and also the fact that the department itself is a very important department.
“We are not just about the country, we are also about the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and we are attracting people from around the globe and people from other provinces.”