Speech notes by Edmund van Vuuren, MPL, Office of the Premier budget vote debate — 23 July 2014

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Members of the Executive and members of this house, as well as guests and officials, allow me to greet you with the respect you deserve.

Honourable Speaker, the Office of the Premier (OTP) is the centre of the provincial government with the responsibility of coordinating departments and provides strategic directions to departments with regards to provincial policy priorities. With reference to the strategic priorities of the province, the OTP is responsible for coordinating the implementation of all eight strategic priorities. However, the following three are directly aligned to the mandate of the Department, namely:

  • Intensifying the fight against crime and corruption;
  • Building a developmental state and improving the public service as well as strengthening democratic institutions;
  • Strengthening education, skills and human resource bases.

Honourable Speaker, there are some issues of concern that I would like to allude to:

Honourable Speaker, the budget allocation for Programme 1, Administration has decreased by 6, 4%, resulting in a decrease in personnel from 420 in 2013 to 391 in 2014.  This drop in the number of personnel is as a result of compensation of employees top slicing as well as the Department not having funds to fill any new posts.

This is of grave concern to the Democratic Alliance as the decrease in the number of personnel will have a negative impact in providing institutional development and organizational support to all government departments to ensure that the provincial government has sufficient capacity to effectively and efficiently deliver on its mandate.

The Democratic Alliance is of the opinion that Provincial Government, led by the Office of the Premier should focus its attention on the improvement of the performances by all departments which are precipitated by poor compliance and performance in addition to governance decline, particularly in Departments of Health and Education, posing a serious threat to service delivery given the shortage of skills and high vacancy rates in departments, as well as the decrease in the number of personnel within the Office of the Premier. It becomes very difficult to deliver on the mandate of improved service delivery; hence this Provincial Government will have to source additional specialist capacity in order for implementation support to be given to departments.

Honourable Speaker much has been said about business between public servants and the government being prohibited. If that is the case why are there still public servants and their extended families, as per reports, still doing business with the government and when does this government intend to enforce the policy that prohibits business between public servants and government.  The Democratic Alliance wants to see the immediate implementation of this policy and action taken against those that fragrantly disregard this policy. 

Honourable Speaker, the budget allocation for legal services of the Department has increased by 2.6% and the budget allocation for consultants, legal services by 17%.

  • Honourable Speaker it will be appreciated if the House could be informed as to the responsibilities of the legal personnel within the Office of the Premier if legal work must be outsourced. Building capacity within the legal section should be prioritized. We as the Democratic Alliance agree that in certain instances consultants are a necessity, but why pay officials for work that is being done by consultants? Employment of those who are fit-for-purpose will certainly resolve some existing inefficiencies.
  • Honourable Speaker, as a committee we discussed the attitudes of officials across all provincial departments at length. As a member of the Democratic Alliance I concur with the unhappiness raised as to the existing culture within the departments. This culture that exists towards work ethic is totally unacceptable. The Democratic Alliance is also of the opinion that a service delivery plan in all departments should be enhanced and all sections within departments must be targeted. We need a culture change within the corridors of government. Batho Pele is almost non-existent.
  • Honourable Speaker, I do not know how you are going to influence the mind-sets of your officials, especially those in education and health. This government is spearheaded by these departments but they have become a liability in court. The government has lost most of its cases in court, resulting in a payment of exorbitant legal fees. We need to assess our strategies before approaching the courts to adjudicate cases.
  • Honourable Speaker it has also come to my attention that we have officials within the provincial departments driving across the country and pocketing huge S & T allowances without providing proof of what they have achieved. This I know will also be unacceptable to you Honourable Speaker.

Honourable Speaker, the department has also made positive strides toward the establishment of the Provincial Planning Commission and we trust its establishment will go a long way towards the effective coordination of planning at all spheres of government within our province.

The Democratic Alliance supports the committee report.

I thank you.