The debate on Eastern Cape Premier’s State of the Province Address took place in the Bhisho legislature on Tuesday, 23 February.
I said on Friday that the Premier’s SoPA was more reflective than forward looking and this was echoed later by the Nelson Mandela Business Chamber.
Reflection is important in such an address but vision casting is more important, especially in times of economic hardship compounded by joblessness and a record drought.
Having listened very carefully to what you said last week and reread your 2015 SoPA, I realized that what you undertook to do last year hasn’t all materialized and some of what you did didn’t produce the intended or desired outcomes.
Outcomes are actually what define successful governments and not outputs and this is why we battle so much in this Provincial Government and our Municipal Governments to get favourable Auditor General Reports, because outputs don’t equate to outcomes. Let’s look at some of the key priority areas in this regard.
Let’s look at some of the key priority areas in this regard.
Firstly, education! This will obviously be given focused attention by my colleague Edmund van Vuuren but, the Premier said last year that, “The doors of culture and learning will be opened to promote quality education and skills development”.
He also said that “Education is an apex priority”. Despite these comments and Apex budget allocation, our education outcomes were again an embarrassment to all. They devastated sacrificial parents and depressed thousands of disappointed learners.
Hon Makupula asked me if I could praise sing in isiXhosa at the SONA. Even if I could there would be nothing to praise sing about in education. A 10% Province wide decrease in the Matric pass rate and a 20% decline in the Northern areas is a disgrace.
The Northern areas results are caused by myriad reasons not least the closure of schools before matric exams. Only desperate parents would do this. Their efforts where ill-conceived and the results speak for themselves. Despite this schools where again closed for a month due to the same unaddressed and specific and ongoing challenges. This area is facing a flood of increased substance abuse, gangsterism and violent crime. These catastrophic results will compound these social challenges here.
You, Hon Premier thanked the principles of schools for their leadership at schools, yet your department expects them to fight with their hands tied behind their backs. This they have to do against your tripartheid alliance partner SADTU, the enemy of all good education, and you support them.
Until you bring in performance management agreements in schools and re-introduce school inspectors you will continue to fight a losing battle against SADTU and you will bequeath more and more underprepared unqualified and unemployable school leavers to our faltering economy.
Last year you claimed, “That the continued increase number of learners attaining bachelor passes is an impressive trend that makes the Eastern Cape to be one of the top contributors to quality in the country.” Yet this province went backward last year.
Until you change the model, the modus operandi and the entire management and leadership of this department nothing will improve!! This much is now clear.
With regard to the state of the economy and the burgeoning ranks of the unemployed in the Province, we have a specific crisis of youth unemployment. The Premier said last year that this would be addressed through a “youth development strategy”
Yet despite a youth unemployment rate of over 50% and 47% in the NMB Metro the Premier says that the Province will intensify programmes towards youth development and that they are progressing well with the establishment of a youth unit in the office of the Premier.
The youth don’t want youth units or turn around strategies or back to basic plans, they want jobs that will give them dignity and break the cycle of dependency that the ANC depends on to stay in power.
The youth of today do not consider EPWP work opportunities as proper jobs and though the DA-led Western Cape has won a National award for best and most sustainable EPWP programme, we address joblessness by growing the economy to create real jobs and thus we have the lowest unemployment in the country. (Despite people leaving the Eastern Cape to seek greener pastures in the Western Cape, these people know how they feed their families; it’s because of good and progressive DA Government.
Last year you said, “The winds of change are sweeping across our province, that will ensure that famine and hunger are banished by lifting marginalized households out of poverty” This has not happened and we all understand that the crippling drought has had an effect, however, it is not the drought alone. The El Nino climatic phenomenon was predicted years ago yet we only woke up to its impact in December after I wrote to MEC Qoboshiyane, our response has been too little too late and the consequences of this drought will be felt well into next year if not the next few years.
We have declared 5 regions as disaster drought regions. This should be reason enough to declare it a provincial disaster which coupled with other stricken provinces, should have this drought declared a national disaster. The forecast is that we will have to import 7 million tonnes plus of grain to counter drought-related food shortages. (This is equivalent to one 30 tonne truck leaving all our ports every 5 minutes of every day)
The drought is being understated by government and this is still going to have more devastating consequences than the current livestock and crop loses, not to mention the loss of livelihoods in an already depressed agricultural sector and rural communities. In fact, the WHO predictions are of widespread famine across Southern Africa including South Africa, with the possibility of the loss of many lives.
The Premier also said that key to eradicating poverty and hunger would be the “building of infrastructure for processing agricultural products including abattoirs, dairy infrastructure, aquaculture incubation schemes and rural tourism infrastructure”. Well, I regret to inform this house that yet another poultry abattoir has been built in Grahamstown only to become a “chicken sanctuary” like the white elephant poultry abattoir in Bizana. MEC Qoboshiyane did much breast beating about the opening of this abattoir yet the OUTPUTS and OUTCOMES are ZERO return for millions of rands. This abattoir was scheduled to open first in September 2013 as announced by Department Official Zama Zikhali then in March 2014!!! So much for on time delivery!!! It is still closed!!
The only viable Agri processing infrastructure investments as well and commodity producing initiatives are those that are run at risk by private sector partners, the premier mentioned a few. These should be the models to replicate, not the repetitively failing government projects
Kodwa anivi animameli!!
You continue to throw good money after bad.
Magwa and Majola lost another whole year while your departments and the ECRDA and ECDC all dithered to come up with a business rescue plan. Yet more millions were squandered for no return just back date salaries, and no tea was produced.
So much for the invitation to enjoy a cup of tea with the MEC.
The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, despite an excellent public relations reputation continues to plant crops in marginal areas with returns less than invested capital. This does nothing for our economy or food security, in fact it’s just a “fool’s economy”.
The new initiative to rather plant fodder crops is probably more prudent but I wonder once the so-called fodder banks are established, who will buy the fodder, sell the fodder, to whom, at what cost and what will prevent the growers from selling to the highest bidder?? Has anyone thought about this?
Your support of some of the commodity producer organisations are appreciated but must be properly managed as it is currently only the rand dollar exchange that makes them viable as they are export orientated or they save foreign exchange by reducing demand on imports.
With regard to tourism, I believe that the Eastern Cape continues to flatter only to deceive. This is one of our biggest economic growth areas and job spinners, yet we lag far behind other provinces as a tourist destination province. We are more like a transit lounge.
In this regard, the current surfaced road improvements are acknowledged as they will have a positive economic impact, especially the proposed resurfacing of the Addo to PE road which is long overdue.
However this province will have to seriously reconsider what it is paying per kilometre to surface roads.
- In Gauteng and Western Cape, it is approximately R3 – R4 million /km,
- In Limpopo it is R6 – R7 million/km (where Julius Malema became a millionaire)
- and in this province, it is approximately R9 – R10 million/km
(Bakona abantu abatya kamnandi)
The state of unsurfaced roads though doesn’t only compound the misery you spoke of off rural living it impacts adversely on economic activity and very negatively on eco-tourism, which should make the Eastern Cape a destination tourism province that it is currently not (Siyogqitwa ngamanye amaphondo)
This brings me to two areas of grave concern arising from your address in 2015 last year.
Firstly Hon Premier, you said last year that you would intensify the fight against crime and corruption. In this regard you have done neither.
The Mandela funeral fraud scandal remains unresolved and those implicated therein continue to hold high office in Parliament, here and in councils, not to mention in ANC leadership structures.
These people committed fraud and corruption in the name of President Mandela at his funeral, abanantloni ababantu!!!and the ANC government won’t act against these comrades.
The Siyenza toilet fraud and corruption saga is blight on this province and your leadership Hon Premier. I read all the answers provided to me and my other DA colleagues questions by the MEC of Local Government and Traditional affairs, MEC Xasa whilst preparing this speech and I couldn’t help but laugh at your and his So called “commitment to fight corruption”.
Crime. Yesterday the security cluster ministers met in the Northern Areas of NMBM to design a strategy to combat gang-related crime. This morning another person was shot in Zimdahl street.
The NMBM council requested the establishment of a Metro Police force in 2009. (Under the chairpersonship of Cllr H Sauls-August) As the current MEC of safety and liaison, she agreed to this request in a government gazette in 2012, yet there is still no Metro Police force but there is a Metro Police Chief who earns more than R1 m per annum.
This government is not serious about combating crime in the NMBM.
Judge Alkema effectively ruled all his responses to our questions null and void and invalid because all required procedures where flouted. Yet there are no consequences, not for him or corrupt officials or the corrupt contract beneficiaries who have left half built toilets, collapsed toilets and slabs of concrete littering the countryside of the ADM.
This contract has also effectively bankrupted this once financially secure council. No! there is no war against corruption, rather it is seen as a “time to eat” by comrades. So much for the ANC’s “integrity committee”
Lastly, the Premier said that “The systems of local government in the province has been fairly stable since its establishment”
This is an indication of just how out of touch with reality you actually are hon Premier. If I use the two Metros as an example, the turnover of municipal managers and Mayors alone tells of the worst kind of political instability.
There is also a long and embarrassing list of broken promises, wasteful and fruitless expenditure in these Metro’s that beggar belief and you say local government is stable? It’s not.
The list of untabled forensic reports across the province are testimony to administrative instability, maladministration and corruption.
The number of municipalities placed under administration and those that should have been but haven’t, also speaks of chaotic instability.
The recent desperate amalgamation of failing and politically vulnerable municipalities is perhaps the most telling testimony of instability.
Furthermore, there is the matter of broken Presidential promises, for example, the war on leaks and the promise of R400m in 2014 for the Nooitgedacht low water augmentation scheme that never materialized. These broken promises and poor infrastructure maintenance have placed the city’s water security at severe risk.
Lastly the current and escalating intra-party tensions regarding who is in and who is going to be out after the elections as the ANC slice of the cake decreases is the most telling evidence of instability. They and you all know change is coming.
All of these factors have nothing to do with Jan van Riebeeck, the drought, the DA or any other conceivable excuse! Their instability and collapse is directly due to failed ANC leadership and governance.
It is this kind of delusion that led to your thanks last year for the collaboration between your government and the traditional leadership of the province to reduce initiate deaths only for this year’s death toll to reach new record highs.
No Hon. Speaker, the State of The Province is nothing to be proud of and there is nothing wrong with me saying this, because in a constitutional democracy we have the right to want and expect more.