UDM, DA tear into Eastern Cape Sopa: Daily Dispatch

OPPOSITION parties in the Bhisho legislature have blamed the underwhelming state of the province address on an ANC “factional deadlock” in the province.

This was stated by DA Bhisho leader Bobby Stevenson in his response yesterday to premier Phumulo Masualle’s Sopa speech.

He said nothing was going to go smoothly in the province as long as the “chaos” caused by ANC factional battles continued to hold everyone to ransom.

Masualle was deeply involved in this impasse, he added.

“This factional deadlock needs to be resolved urgently as nobody can lead a province when you are looking over your shoulder.

“We are living in a broken province, which is in urgent need of fixing and of total change,” charged Stevenson.

The UDM’s Max Mhlathi concurred and launched his own scathing attack on several aspects of Masualle’s speech.

He said he was confused by the premier’s consistent claim that the province was fighting corruption when there was not a shred of evidence to support this claim.

“To this end I am in agreement with ANC Women’s League leader Bathabile Dlamini, who once claimed that all ANC members have small skeletons in their closet.

“I challenge any one of you ANC members who claim to be corruption-free to stand out.

“No one will,” said Mhlathi. Both the DA and UDM were unhappy with Masualle’s assertion that he was pleased with the improved matric pass rate, as the province remains bottom of the class nationally.

However the ANC, through ANC MPL Fezeka Bayeni, said the party saw nothing wrong with Masualle pointing out improvements.

“We recognise the positive results yielded by the education transformation plan.

“Although we are still last [nationally], equally we cannot ignore the improvements,” said Bayeni, who opened the heated debate.

Bayeni said the ANC’s provincial government was doing well and had its priorities right but shortcomings were a result of “the state of the economy”.

Bayeni lauded Masualle and his government on progress in the National Health Insurance pilot project and repeated what Masualle said about the Eastern Cape being one of two provinces, the other one being Western Cape, which are ready for phase two of the project.

But opposition parties painted a bleak picture of the state of public healthcare in the province.

Mhlathi took aim at the exorbitant medico-legal claims faced by the provincial health department, saying they were a sign of a “collapsing public health care”.

Sports, recreation, arts and culture MEC Pemmy Majodina sang Masualle’s praises.

Majodina said the premier’s speech was a fitting dedication to all fallen political giants born in the Eastern Cape. She proceeded to quote, among others, Nelson Mandela and Robert Sobukwe.

She admitted that poverty, unemployment and inequality in the province “are still a reality but it is not of your making, premier Masualle”.

She blamed the apartheid government for many problems engulfing the ANC government.

The EFF’s two MPLs were once again not in attendance at the session.

Masualle will reply this afternoon. — ZINGISA MVUMVU Politics Reporter zingisam@dispatch.co.za