Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle delivered his State of the Province Address in the Bhisho Legislature on Friday, 27 June 2014.
Apart from the fact that the DA believes that this exercise was a very expensive handing over of the baton from the one Premier to the next, it did give us an insight into premier Masualle’s thought processes and strategic objectives.
It is encouraging that he identified the importance of creating better opportunities for the people of this province through improved education and the provision of learnerships and internships. This is an important measure to reverse the brain drain that this province has been experiencing for the last decade.
We are encouraged with his special focus on economic development and growth and his intention to convert our two IDZs into special exporting zones. This is to be commended, as this is international best practice and can go some way to improving investor confidence and attracting foreign investment to this province in order to provide jobs.
His reference to growing the rural economy through partnerships between the public sector and the private sector is encouraging but the ambiguity of what he says and the proposals by the Rural Development and Land Reform Minster, Gugile Nkwinti’s proposal on land reform are in conflict with each other. This ambiguity needs to be addressed urgently.
With regard to corruption it appears that the premier is determined to launch and offensive against this scourge and we are encouraged by the fact that he said those charged for serious fraud and corruption in the public sector will be suspended until resolution of the charges.
However, this was fundamentally undermined by the fact that one of his MECs, Sakhumzi Somyo, instructed his BCM colleagues to carry on in their current positions. This dichotomy will have to be addressed and we will put it to the premier in the debate next week.
The DA is also very encouraged that the premier has identified local government as a priority challenge in this province and this follows the theme from the State of the Nation Address. Local government is in a parlous state in the Eastern Cape and his undertaking to focus on the two metros and other specified municipalities is long overdue.
In this regard it is important to note that the DA will also be focussing on these municipalities, especially Nelson Mandela Bay and other strategic municipalities with the view of establishing a DA-footprint in the Eastern Cape to showcase the difference between ANC- and DA government.