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Premier Sylvia Lucas ready for another term as she reflects on NC legacy

Reflecting on her time as premier since May 2013, Lucas says the province still holds so much potential for development and if it's the African National Congress (ANC)'s desire, she'll return for another term.

Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas (right) greets President Cyril Ramaphosa on his arrival at Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre ahead of the Armed Forces Inter-Faith service in Kimberley on 18 February 2019. Picture: @GovernmentZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas counts the yet-to-be-opened Kimberley Mental Health Hospital as one of her legacies.

Reflecting on her time as premier since May 2013, Lucas says the province still holds so much potential for development and if it's the African National Congress (ANC)'s desire, she'll return for another term.

In political circles, 54-year-old Sylvia Lucas is known as a no-nonsense force to be reckoned with.

Lucas got involved with politics while still in high school and later served as councillor in the Upington's Khara Hais Local Municipality.

She has survived many challenges but says that she continues to service the province’s residents with determination to create a better future.

One of the Northern Cape's key struggles is the provision of public healthcare services.

With reports of acute staff shortages, medicines and ambulances, healthcare remains a key challenge.

Almost fifteen years after construction at the Kimberley Mental Health Hospital began and a cost of nearly R2 billion, the facility is yet to be opened.

Lucas says that it is now in the hands of the national Health Department to decide when the psychiatric facility will be operational.

"There were many legal requirements that were actually requested from the national Department of Health, before we could open the hospital. In terms of that, our provincial department has actually complied in all aspects. Our own aspiration is that we want to open it as early as April."

The former National Party typist who joined the ANC in 1992, is a politician who stands her ground, a quality that has often landed her in hot water.

Political analyst, Ralph Mathekga, remembers Lucas's tenure as premier.

"It has been a very controversial term. I don't know if this has to do with having a premier who does not have the political base within the province, because she's not the chairperson of the party in the province but by and large this has not been a good term."

Two years ago, former ANC Northern Cape secretary Zamani Saul, was elected unopposed as the party's provincial chairperson.

Lucas came under fire from the ANC after she removed Finance MEC Mac Jack and Transport MEC Pauline Williams in May 2017, apparently without consulting the ANC's provincial structures.

The newly-elected provincial executive committee threatened disciplinary action against Lucas if she did not rescind the decision.

She did so the following month.

"The issue of the reshuffling is an old story, all of us have passed that chapter, so it's an old chapter, it's closed, there is nothing that is remaining about that."

Lucas also had some explaining to do when she racked up a fast food bill of more than R50,000 during her first ten weeks in office.

Lucas is more positive than ever about equal gender representation within party structures, highlighting work that the ANC Women’s League Young Women’s Desk is doing to groom the next generation of female leaders.