Reply by Ross Purdon, Shadow MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism

Hon Speaker

Hon Premier

Hon Members

All our guests in the gallery

Good afternoon to you all.

Our province and our country are in deep economic trouble.

We are like a patient in intensive care in hospital.  Patients in intensive care need the best

people, the best facilities and the best treatment methods in order to survive.

It is common knowledge as to the reasons why we are so sick in the first place.  No one

buys governments story that this situation is totally to do with the Global Economy Crisis.

Government continues to neglect its own failures!

These failures have been compounded by our energy crises, corruption, massive

unemployment (especially amongst our youth), poor infrastructure development and a

crippling drought amongst others.

All of these factors have led to our growth forecasts being revised to around 1% or less for

this coming year.

We are going to need some really strong medicine to survive all of this.  In fact our real State

of the Nation Address will be heard tomorrow.

Min. Gordhan has to convince investors and rating agencies that government is serious

about addressing our economic and financial challenges.

All signs for Wednesday’s budget point to significant cuts and savings and all provinces will

have to embrace these in order for us to survive.

In fact the President in his State of the Nation Address has already instructed Premiers and

Mayors to cut spending and wasteful expenditure.

Hopefully we will hear these measures announced in our upcoming Provincial Budget as we

did not, with all due respect Hon Premier, receive much information from you during the

State of the Province Address.

What we were told about was the Expanded Public Works Program and the community

workers program which are both very short term solutions for job creation and are not

sustainable.  These should be cut substantially in our forthcoming budget.  We will wait and

see.

A few weeks ago our Economic Development Committee visited the Alfred Nzo District

Municipality on a follow up visit to projects funded by the Department of Economic

Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.

I came home a depressed man.

Recommendations by the Committee in 2013 have largely been ignored.

For example, the Raohang Craft and Multi- Purpose Co-operative.  This co-op is meant to

sew garments, curtains, school uniforms, upholstery and leather crafts.

The Department funded the building – it cost R1, 5 million back then and the DTI provided

sewing and upholstery machinery to the value of R300 000.

On inspection our committee could not see the value of the building and the worst of all there

is no electricity at all.  How can the Co-op sew anything without electricity?

How can this be allowed to happen?

We were also told that a motivation for a R500 000 top up was being prepared?

We also visited the Umzimvubu Peach Value addition co-op.  This is based near Mount Ayliff

and its main business is meant to be agro-processing.

This co-op was funded by the department to the sum of R2, 1 million with the Municipality

adding further funds totalling about R800 000 so close on R3 million has been spent and

nothing is happening there.  Yes, there are some trees which did not look healthy, but there

is certainly no processing taking place.

When we asked where the equipment was we were told it is next door.  There was no

equipment at all!

It is interesting to note that in the 2013 report it was noted that R1, 6 million had been spent

on the project but no comprehensive report had been submitted to detail the expenditure.

The committee asked for a report to be submitted within 30 days.

The committee is still waiting.

Hon Speaker,

These are just two examples of how hard tax payer monies are being squandered and the

department has to take full responsibility!  Where has the money gone!

We notice that the Hon Premier has tasked the department with the consolidation and

coordination of support to all co-operatives.  This will be an interesting exercise as at the

moment co-ops and other projects are being set up to fail and this cannot be allowed.

Hon Somyo, through you Hon Speaker, must take a long hard look at your underperforming

department.

Based on what I have seen in my short term on oversight visits the Head of Department

should be fired.  In fact I seriously wonder if the HOD ever visits the rural projects.

With our massive unemployment figures the current situation is simply unacceptable.

I would also like to suggest that our committee receives a report from all the LED managers

in our Municipalities as to what they are actually achieving?  I think we would be horrified!

There are too many people employed by the department and municipalities who are not

performing at all.  There is little or no development taking place.

Job creation has to be the most important focus area in the year ahead and government has

to create the environment for this to succeed.  The Department is failing the people!

Hon Speaker,

Our Honourable Premier touched on tourism during the SOPA.  It was interesting to note the

increase of domestic arrivals in our province.  It is not clear though where the tourists are

coming from and where they are visiting.  Are they visiting the East, the West, coastal areas

or rural areas?  We do not know because there does not seem to be a co-ordinated effort

when it comes to tourism.  We have National, Provincial and Local Tourism bodies not

communicating with each other.

Tourism can be a major driver for job creation in our province if we do it properly.  We seem

to be the forgotten province and are being left behind by other provinces.

Sadly our product is not enhanced by our aging infrastructure.  Yes, the proposed new Wild

Coast Toll Road will unlock more beautiful destinations but this will take time and will we be

able to afford it?  The truth is our access roads to many of our coastal resorts are in a

shocking state and chase many potential tourists away.  The lawlessness on our roads and

in our cities is also not helping our cause.  Has anyone driven through Mthatha lately?

We are not celebrating the Mandela legacy and we should be.

This province has a strong historical background of heroes and battlefields.  Other provinces

are showing theirs off and have overtaken us.

President Mandela’s gravesite should be a major tourist attraction with tourists wanting to

pay respect.

President Kennedy’s grave in Arlington Cemetery in Washington remains a major tourist

attraction and he has been gone for over 50 years now.

Hon Speaker,

We are also chasing away tourists by neglecting our sports stadiums and facilities.  There is

still no movement on Bayworld although MEC Majodina told me this was imminent.  As well

as a prime tourist attraction this facility plays a major role in education.

Most of our sports stadiums are an embarrassment.  I hosted visitors from England at the

recent international match at St Georges in Port Elizabeth.  The toilets were blocked at

lunchtime and they vowed never to return.

We keep letting ourselves down.

There seems to be much excitement about the new developments at the Mthatha Stadium.

It has been reported that R10 million will be sourced from the Lotteries Commission.  It was

also reported that MEC Majodina said government needed R750 million to complete the

project.  That is nearly the equivalent of the entire annual budget of the Department!  R10

million does not go too far if you need R750 million so lets’ not get to excited just yet!

Hon Speaker,

Finally I would like to bring the light of the former E.P Kings Rugby players to this house.

The EP Rugby Union failed to meet a deadline to pay a group of contracted EP Kings

Players.  These players have not been paid since September of last year.  The players have

taken the Union to court and a liquidation application is to be heard on March 10 in the High

Court.

The treatment of these players by the EP Kings management is a DISGRACE.  These are

young men with young families who week after week, month after month have put their

bodies on the line for our province.

As SARU have taken over the Southern Kings franchise we, the DA, appealed to them to

assist the stricken players but it is now clear that no help will be forthcoming from them.

I hope the players are successful in their legal challenge but legal cases take time and

money which they do not have.

Cheeky Watson’s handling of the EP Kings Franchise and its affairs has been a travesty and

this whole dilemma requires an urgent and comprehensive investigation as well as a forensic

audit in order to hold all of those responsible for this mess to account.

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