Of South Africa’s nine health MECs, five are new

Of South Africa’s nine health MECs, five are newAs far as Spotlight has been able to establish, none of South Africa's nine health MECS are qualified health professionals.
News & Features

Following South Africa’s 2024 national and provincial elections, the decisions about the top health jobs in the country’s nine provinces have now all been made. Elri Voigt rounds up the appointments.

There has been a flurry of activity over the last few weeks with the appointment of new provincial Cabinets by the Premiers in South Africa’s nine provinces. This included the announcement of provincial Members of the Executive Council (MECs) for health. Five MECs for health are new in the job while four have been reappointed.

In South Africa’s two most populous provinces, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, ANC-appointed MECs have been retained in the health portfolios, despite the party getting fewer than 40% of the provincial vote. Mpumalanga and Northern Cape have also retained their MECs, while the Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo, the North West, and Western Cape all have new MECs.  

Six of the nine MECs are women. As far as Spotlight has been able to establish, none of the nine are qualified health professionals.  

Below Spotlight provides a province-by-province breakdown of the MECs for Health, with more in-depth coverage of some of the new MECs to follow later.  

Eastern Cape  

Ntandokazi Capa has replaced Nomakhosazana Meth (now South Africa’s Minister of Employment and Labour) as the MEC for Health in the Eastern Cape. She is the chairperson of the ANC Women’s League in the province and was the chairperson of the Women’s Commission at the Southern African Local Government Association. Capa previously served as the OR Tambo District Municipality council speaker. She was also the first woman mayor of Eastern Cape’s Ingquza Hill municipality. 

As Spotlight reported last week, her appointment was welcomed by Democratic Nursing organisation of South Africa, but the DA and EFF have some concerns over her lack of experience. 

Free State  

Monyatso Viceroy Mahlatsi has replaced Nokwanje Selina “Mathabo” Leeto who only served in the province’s health MEC position for a year. Mahlatsi was the Provincial Secretary for the Congress of South African Trade Unions since 2014 – a position he has now resigned from. Last week, Spotlight reported on Mahlatsi’s first act as MEC, which was to accompany the Premier and the rest of the executive council to conduct an oversight visit to the Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital in Bloemfontein, followed by National District Hospital.  

According to the provincial health department, the new MEC is not related to its Head of Department Godfrey Mahlatsi.   


Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko retained her position as the MEC for Health in Gauteng. She was appointed to this position in 2022, a decision that was questioned due to her lack of experience in the health sector. Before this, she was the MEC for Finance in the province, after serving only one day as the MEC for Education. 


Nomagugu Simelane remains the MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal. She was appointed to this position in 2019 and had previously served as the spokesperson for the ANC in the province. Simelane is a lawyer. 


Dieketseng Masesi Mashego took over the position of MEC for Health from Dr Phophi Ramathuba, who is now Premier of the province. Mashego is part of the ANC Women’s League in the province and was previously speaker in the Elias Motsoaledi local municipality.  

Her appointment sparked concern from the DA because of not having any health background or experience. In response to Spotlight’s questions on the matter, Ndavhe Ramakuela, spokesperson for the Premier, said “such appointments, unlike those of Heads of Department, do not follow a career or requisite qualifications, path but are based on ability to lead and carry out duties designated for such an individual”.  


Sasekani Manzini retained her position as MEC for Health, which she has held since 2018. Her reappointment has also been met with pushback from the DA in the province. In a press release, they opposed her remaining in this position, saying the province’s health facilities are in a “downward spiral” and retaining Manzini might lead to the collapse of the department. 

Northern Cape  

Maruping Lekwene has retained his position as the MEC for Health in the Northern Cape. He has served in this position since 2020. Before moving to the health portfolio, he was the province’s MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism. 

North West  

Jonas Sello Lehari replaced Madoda Sambatha who was in the health MEC job since 2018. Lehari was the mayor of Moretele Local Municipality before serving as North West MEC for Education and Sports Development and thereafter as MEC for Community Safety and Transport Management.

Western Cape  

Mireille Wenger has replaced Dr Nomafrench Mbombo as the MEC for Health in the province. Mbombo had been in the job since 2015. Before taking this position, Wenger served as the Western Cape MEC for Finance and Economic Opportunities, which she took up in 2022.  

Wenger does have some health experience. In 2020, she was elected as the chairperson for the province’s Ad-Hoc Committee on COVID-19 and served in this position until the committee was disbanded in 2022. She also spent five years on the Western Cape Provincial Parliaments’ Health and Wellness Standing Committee.  

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