FIVE RIGHT POLICY CHOICES: STEVENSON

Members of the opposition parties in the Bhisho Legislature Chamber.

Members of the opposition parties in the Bhisho Legislature Chamber.

The Premier correctly identified jobs and development as a key priority in her speech. We support this emphasis as the fastest way to lift people out of poverty is to create jobs.

The Democratic Alliance believes it is the number one priority for this province to be a pro-jobs administration. Everything we do needs to be measured against the yardstick of job creation.

Government creates the right climate that is conducive to attracting new investment but it is the private sector that creates the jobs

We would agree with you that there needs to be collaboration between business, labour and government. That means that the private sector also has to have the ear of government and not just labour.   Bills before the National Assembly have the potential to jeopardise millions of jobs.

A truly pro jobs administration needs to make the right policy choices.  I wish to highlight five:

1.       Sound infrastructure is critical particularly the basics. Major industries in the Nelson Mandela Metro, some of which the Premier mentioned in her speech will be severely affected if the Metro runs out of water in August. There is an indication that national treasury will only fund R450 m out of the R1.6b requested. I eagerly await tomorrow’s budget for more. Billions of rand worth of investment is being jeopardized by lack of action since the Metro was declared a disaster area in April last year. A pro-jobs administration would have moved lot faster with a greater sense of urgency. WE cannot allow our provinces industrial hub to grind to a halt.

2.       Prioritise education don’t destroy it. Education is the foundation of opportunity in life. Your chance of getting a good job without a good education is virtually nil. To prioritise education is to put the rights of the pupils first instead of managers who cannot perform. The failure to act and take decisive action against the rotten apples is bringing education to its knees.  Premier, we salute your words as quoted in the media that poor managers who drown advocates of change will be stamped out. We have heard this talk before but what we require is action.

3.       Root out corruption. Corruption and poor administration robs the poor of resources that could be used to improve their quality of life. Legislation needs to be introduced to prevent civil servants doing business with the province. The former SG of Education Prof. Harry Nengkwekhulu stated that 90% of top management are trading with the Department. I have tabled private members legislation to this effect. If we lose 20% of our capital and goods and services budget to over pricing, maladministration and corruption we are looking at a figure of R2.6 billion. This is more than the budget of most departments.  The time for action is now.

4.       Champion a culture of accountability. The leadership of this province needs to vigorously promote a culture of accountability with real consequences for non performance.  This is a prerequisite for a top class administration that wants to create the right climate for attracting investment.  No mercy can be shown to poor performers, no favour can be given to friends who cannot do the job, and no person who has messed up in one job should be redeployed to do more damage in another. To do so is to be the enemy of job creation and the friend of unemployment.  Yes you are right; the attitude of civil servants needs to change. But this has been mentioned on many occasions, particularly when it comes to service in our hospitals.  There needs to be strict performance agreements in place, enforcement of the PFMA and MFMA.  Premier your no bonus without a clean audit call has also been mentioned in the past.  The time for action is now.

5.       Our macroeconomic fundamentals need to be sound. The wage bill in this province is reaching astronomical proportions in relation to the funds available for service delivery. It has now reached 79% of the budget excluding conditional grants.  We cannot just rush out and fill all the vacancies without a careful study.  Norms for the percentage of the budget devoted to the cost of employees need to be established.   With a projected R 3.7 billion provincial exposure, service delivery is going to face massive cost pressures. Government is going to have to look at alternative models of service delivery such as outsourcing to enhance efficiencies.  We are marching towards the cliff top and top slicing alone will not save us.

The time for action is now

In his book a long walk to freedom Nelson Mandela says:  “For to be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, but to live in such a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Unless we make the right policy choices in this province, its people will continue to remain unfree – shackled by poor health care, poverty, high unemployment and a poor education – unable to get ahead in life and reach for their dreams.

We want this province, our province, to be governed well and be a province of rising opportunity. We take no delight in service delivery failures. My heart cries out for our millions of learners who are trapped in the poverty cycle because of a poor education system.

Premier, Honourable MEC’s, you have the power to determine the future course of this province by adopting the right policy choices.  WE cannot   continue be thrown off course by factionalism, infighting and the greed of the new tenderpreneurial class.

We can take the path to increased opportunity for all or continue down the road of poor service delivery and poverty for many.