PINE PIENAAR SPEAKING ON THE 2010 STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS

I have heard quite a few State of the Province speeches by Premiers of the Eastern Cape since 1994. And since I have been a Member of this House, I have studied these speeches. I know what has been said and I know what have been promised.

Hon. Speaker what the Premier said on Friday was what her predecessors said over and over every year.

Madam Premier: you have inherited a provincial administration neglected by a string of Premiers.

Madam Premier, as Speaker of this House you showed us leadership and gave this house direction with a limited budget and under difficult circumstances.

The only thing that could save our severe lack of service delivery is a fit-for-purpose approach when we appoint staff to our administration. Service delivery in this province is compromised by bad administration.

When it comes to administration in this province we are not even getting the basics right.

Take for instance the crisis we have reached with paying suppliers to our Department of Health. A letter earlier this month from the Superintendent General of the Department of Health to suppliers states that the department is dealing, and

I quote: “with various internal issues pertaining to the settlement of supplier accounts”. He says growth of accruals causes problems in terms of cash flow.

I worked most of my life in the finance department in one of the largest foreign companies to invest in this province and I have no problem translating what the superintendent-general of Health is trying to say: that bad administration has caused that the department has run out of money to pay its suppliers.

Now this, Mr Speaker, is atrocious. And Madam Premier this is where I have to appeal to you to take responsibility, take control and intervene.

Madam Premier, in the Eastern Cape we should build an open opportunity society for all. An open opportunity society is one based on constitutionalism and the rule of law, where individuals are guaranteed rights and where independent institutions protect these rights, and limit and disperse political power.

In an open society, there is transparency and accountability, assisted by a free press and a robust civil society.

An opportunity society is one where every person is given the chance and the wherewithal to improve their own circumstances, whatever their circumstances may be.

In an opportunity society, the state has a duty to do for people what they cannot be expected to do for themselves.

In an opportunity society, those who take responsibility for their lives and use their chances to flourish. They understand that taking control of their own lives is infinitely preferable to a lifetime of dependency on the state.

South Africa is not yet an open, opportunity society. It is not yet an open society because power abuse still goes unchecked and unpunished. Some people think they are above the law. We are not yet an opportunity society because too many people remain trapped in a cycle of poverty, with few realistic prospects, relying on state grants to survive

As Speaker of this Honourable house you achieved wonders with a tight budget. This is why I am appealing to you today to give us direction. What we need is to build an open opportunity society.

Currently the reality is that suppliers to our department of health will only be paid in April. Some suppliers haven’t been paid since January, so essentially, the department wants them to go four months without payment, but they are expected to continue to offer services as usual.

Many suppliers are already battling due to the economic crunch. This is putting further financial strain on them and some might even be forced to close their doors.

In the mean time our ambulances are stranded in depots, we cannot afford petrol. The injured and sick are left unattended next to the roads or in their homes, clinics and hospitals are not being stocked with enough medication

I am scared to try and calculate how many lives are lost and suffering caused by bad administration.

Take responsibility for this. Stand up and say: Enough is enough. Lets get the basics right. Madam Premier, you owe the poor, you owe the sick, you owe those who voted for us for the most basic of services.

I dare not think how many women who are raped will not get the care and medication they need, because of the incompetence of the department.

Mr Speaker in Friday’s speech not a single word was spoken of road maintenance. Do we realise that the backlog in road maintenance in this province is now R20-billion.

Do we realise that our roads have now reached the end of their life span? Do we realise that without roads, without the life support system of our economy, we will not create jobs and we will not grow out of poverty?

To start repairing roads now will cost a four times more than it would have if we budgeted for road maintenance when we were supposed to do so years ago. If you don’t act Madam Premier, you will be remembered as the last Premier of the Eastern Cape who could travel on tarred roads. From here onwards we might as well rip up these roads and travel on gravel roads.

The only words our Premier mentioned about roads in her speech was the upgrade of 182km of gravel road with the new low cost alternative method. Do the Members of this house know this method costs R1million per kilometre?

Do they know that this constitutes a R182million upgrade of roads in a province where we need to spend R20billion.this is a drop in the ocean.

Mr Speaker, we need a Premier that can face up the challenge. Not one that will follow in the footsteps of the failures of the past. Madam Premier 51 per cent of skilled posts in the Department of Health have not been filled.

That means that more than half of the people that are supposed to deliver services do not exist.

And the bad news does not stop here. R1,8 billion has been overspent on Budget for Health in the Eastern Cape. I want to know who approved these payments? Every sent of that 1,8 billion overspent, are contraventions of the Public Finance

Management Act.

Who has the right in this province to break the law so many times? Was it you Madam Premier who said: Go right ahead guys. Break the law. Just ignore the PFMA. The law is not for us. We are in government.

If it wasn’t you, Madam Premier who approved those unlawful payments, then I want to know whom it was and if these people will be brought to book. Will they face the music? Will they be held accountable?

I will bet my last bottom dollar that they won’t. You see, Mr Speaker, this government has created a climate in this province where officials are not being held responsible for their actions. When children die because of filthy water, the department finds nobody to blame, when money is spent unlawfully, a computer is blamed.

I am saying enough of this. Madam Premier,right decisions and not just decisions for the sake of taking them. Lets work with a plan.

Communities that have voted for us has run out of patience. They are burning tyres and they are taking to the streets. And rightlyso. Every Premier in the past promised the eradication of mud structures. On Friday we heard for the tenth time that mud structures would disappear. How many times are we going to hear this? Even time frames was set in previous years.

I have seen Premiers come and go, but the mud structures are still here. People are continuing to suffer just because Premiers, HODs and senior administrators are not serious about service delivery.

We need a skills audit. We need to fill vacant posts with the best candidates and we need to work. We need to listen to our in-house audit committees. They are doing valuable work, but we are not listening to them. If we don’t implement the recommendations of our own internal audit structures, we might as well pack up and go.

Lastly Mr Speaker. The world is on its way to visit our province for the 2010 world cup. They will inevitably end up in our museums. Our museums need to reflect the history of all the peoples of the Eastern Cape. It needs to reflect the history and customs of all the cultures.

At the moment it reflects the history, cultures and customs of only one section of the community of the Eastern Cape. I dont know if there will be enough time, but Madam Speaker, lets get our Museums in order so tha tthey reflect all communities of the Eastern Cape. Let’s do something sooner rather than later.