PINE PIENAAR: SPEECH IN RESPONSE TO BUDGET AND POLICY VOTE, OFFICE OF THE PREMIER

Members will know that our former Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel is now the driving force behind the national planning commission, but we cannot sit back and wait for him to start the engine. At provincial level we can take initiative to give regional planning initiatives real power that will make real changes to real people.

If we take into account that one of the major challenges will be to identify areas of need, to coordinate intervention and to bring about real change, then this is an initiative this province desperately needs.

In this province we have seen 180 babies die in one hospital in Mthatha this year alone, we see a lack of ambulances and emergency operations, we see under-funding, under-spending and accruals where suppliers are not being paid year after year every financial year.

Working on strategies to prevent these problems is something we need to take responsibility for and seeing that it will be a function of the Office of the Premier; we need to see leadership in this.

The provincial planning commission will only succeed if we see political will coming right from the top. But the work of this commission should not stop with identifying shortfalls, coming up with tragedies and then trying to rectify it.

It should also work pro-active. It should set strict measurable performance agreements that should be adhered to. This will ensure value for money performance and ¬ of course ¬ identify culprits.

The culprits who are soaking up the sun on the gravy train without performing or delivering services to the poor and needy.

We need to be aware of the areas where the Office of the Premier is failing the poor and needy. Take the current programme to award bursaries as only one example. At the moment it is not functioning properly. The right people are not being empowered and the failures are greater than the successes. What we need is the political will to overhaul the current system. We could, for instance, issue vouchers to the hardest working school leavers on various criteria. They could then redeem these vouchers at a university, technical college or other institutions of higher learning, OR they could use it as start up capital to start a business as entrepreneur, learn a skill or buy goods to start a business. We need to encourage entrepreneurship to overcome poverty and create jobs. An education without a job is worthless. Look at the thousands of graduates out there who cannot find a job. With the right political will massive contracts can be broken up into smaller ones to benefit all seven regions in our province.

The massive Fleet Africa contract springs to mind immediately. A contract that was brought into existence a few years ago at R750million per annum has grown to R3 billion of the taxpayer’s money this year. How was this possible for this to happen? Is this value for money? Certainly not!

We are paying Fleet Africa R 19, 800 per month for the use of a little VW Chico.

We are paying more than R 45, 000 per month for one Toyota Hilux converted into an ambulance through Fleet Africa.

We can buy these vehicles, convert them into ambulances and operate them at a fraction of the price. And we can get our own jobless graduates and skilled youngsters that we have empowered through our own voucher bursary system to run the administration and maintenance of our vehicles. Why outsource this massive contract to an entity we know nothing about outside of our provincial borders? Who are benefiting from this? I am sorry, but before these questions are answered I cannot see how we can justify not bringing these contracts and jobs back to home soil.

Let’ s unbundle this massive contract. Let’s break it up into 7 regional contracts run by our own people at a fraction of the price, and let the planning commission coordinate this.

We need to do much more to inject progress and jobs in to our province. We need to do more to market our province. Just the other day on the front page of the Herald I read the report that Port Elizabeth s chance of hosting the lucrative Champions League Twenty20 cricket series in September hangs in the balance because a team of businessmen in Johannesburg were concerned about it.

This is contrary to the initial statement released on February 19 which stated that the two finalists of the Standard Bank Pro20 competition would qualify as hosts.

The Chevrolet Warriors and biz-hub Highveld Lions contested the Pro20 final, which was won by the Eastern Cape franchise. The February statement has since been withdrawn from CSA¹s website.

What we need is a proper lobbying unit that can strategize and represent our province and cities at national and international level to secure events and tournaments.

Without such a unit we will be outgunned by the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal again and again. We cannot send boys to play in the circle of men.

Port Elizabeth came up with a viable plan to promote Port Elizabeth as Water Sports Capital of Africa. Its marketing strategy worked and secured great events bringing international yachtsmen and the like to the city. It worked because a marketing plan and he lobbied unit were in placed.

If our Premier wants to be remembered as a successful Premier ¬ other than the string of failures ahead of her – she will have to bring such a lobby group to life. We need them to look after our total provincial marketing plan and to coordinate the plans of our regions.

Take the lovely town of Uitenhage. It can be marketed as the one place in SA where young people can make it big in learning the trade of auto manufacturing.

It should be the hub where youngsters with vouchers from the Premiers office will gather to be trained in the auto trade where they will have secure jobs with Volkswagen and the entire bubble of auto supply trades surrounding the town.

If we don’t think big, we will remain small.  We will continue to be the boys being bullied by the men

Mr Speaker, in closing, I need to point out one more embarrassing statistic that draws a shadow over the Premier¹s office: The Zuma hotline is not so hot. Response rates to calls in this province are only 2 per cent.

That would mean that I will have to make 50 complaints or raise 50 questions on the so-called hotline and maybe get one response. Ether we rebrand it as the cold line, or we get our act together.

Telling people that their questions will be answered as our president did and then not doing it, is paramount to corruption, which is about the only thing we excel at in this province.

We have no overall strategy TO combat corruption. We have no coordinated plan against corruption. Similarly our standing committee could not even evaluate the Premier¹s Offices operational plan because it was not made available to us. How can we evaluate something if we have nothing to evaluate it against?