SPEECH BY JOHN CUPIDO, MPL, IN THE EASTERN CAPE LEGISLATURE ON THE BUDGET FOR 2011/12 FOR SPORT, RECREATION, ARTS AND CULTURE

Hon. Speaker,

Madam Premier,

Hon. Members of the House, and

Guests of the House…

The report tabled by the Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture Portfolio Committee today shows nothing more than the blatant disregard that the department has for this House of Parliament, each one of the members sitting here, the ruling party of this province and most importantly… disrespect for the people of this province that they serve.

Why do I make this statement? Is it not clear when you read the report?…

There’s not much to be said about the budget as there is only a 2% total increase and no notable internal funding shifts other than the 15% increase in Cultural Activities.

Let me rather concentrate on what the department is giving us for the money spent.

Let’s take it Programme by Programme:

Programme 1 – Administration.

During my time here in the Provincial Legislature, today marks the third time that this House has resolved that the department develops a Communications Strategy, yet nothing is done.

The same can be said of the Audit Implementation Plan, yet nothing is done.

The MEC has laid out in her policy speech what the key highlights are that the department needs to focus on, yet nothing is done.

Every year the department includes several pieces of legislation and policies that need to be reviewed, yet nothing is done.

Where is the accountability Ladies and Gentlemen? This is one of the few, if not the only department where the administration budget has decreased year on year… It doesn’t seem to be that work is being done more efficiently, so it can only mean that less and less work is being done every year.

The department claims underfunding… yet they can’t explain to us where and how they are underfunded. If the people of this department ran a business, it would have gone bankrupt ten times over.

My biggest concern is that if the department finally takes the resolutions of this House seriously, to have all the mentioned policies completed within the stipulated 60 days, then we are going to have inadequate, rushed policies that are speedily developed at exorbitant costs to Eastern Cape taxpayers.

People need to be held accountable for not doing their jobs properly when they were supposed to. Failing which, we can look at nobody else to blame other than the ruling party of this province.

Programme 2 – Cultural Affairs.

Here we have a General Manager position that still needs to be filled. A year ago, the members of this House resolved for this vacant position to be filled. Need I say it? Yet nothing has been done.

How can a programme be managed properly without firm and stable leadership?

SCOPA has identified serious inadequacies with ECPACC and committee meeting transcripts will confirm that the previous portfolio committee chair, the Hon. Mguni has in 2009 and 2010 told ECPACC that they must shape up, or ship out. Yet nothing has been done.

The Eastern Cape Provincial Heritage Resources Authority has since its inception been sitting without proper national accreditation and now makes this province a national joke with the backlog that it has. Yet department leadership still gets their salaries on time, without fail.

Programme 3 – Library and Information Services.

This programme has consistently under spent over the years, yet the department sees it fit to increase its budget yet again. Under spending in this programme means that we have libraries in this province without books, libraries that are understaffed and facilities that are falling apart. This equates to a society that reads less, and thus care less about furthering themselves. How can proper opportunities be created for the community, if they cannot read and learn what to do with those opportunities. It is our duty as government to facilitate opportunity with access to knowledge.

Programme 4 – Sport and Recreation.

Let’s see what the programme that has allowed Bayworld to become the dying facility it is today has to offer us this budget year…

Every month, the taxpayers of this province pays the salaries of people that are charged with the duty of maintaining and managing public sport and recreation facilities within this province, yet, they cannot tell us how many sport and recreational facilities there are under their supervision and where they are. Think for a second… if one does not know how many facilities there are or what they are, how can you plan and budget towards their maintenance and upkeep?

Last year, we significantly increased the budget for the Eastern Cape Sports Council. A council that could not account for the bulk of their previous budget. Now it is reported that there is still no proper monitoring of the actions of this council.

Last year I pointed out that funding for sport for people with disabilities was excluded from the budget, only to get a little bit squeezed in amidst “most regrettable apologies”, and now the report confirms that funding was excluded yet again this year. Does the department not consider the disabled community worthy of doing sport, or is it a case of “Cut and Paste”?

In last year’s budget debate I warned that the beautifully designed Mthatha stadium ran the risk of becoming a white elephant and not being completed if we did not remain vigilant in securing funding for it. I ask you, what has happened to this much needed facility that we have already spent hundreds of millions of rands on? Nothing.

All the problems that I have mentioned today can be solved by following two basic principles. The first is Accountability. When officials and politicians are held accountable for their corrupt or negligible actions, or their inaction, things will get better.

Secondly, strong political leadership is needed to clean the departments of corrupt and incompetent dead wood and to implement vigorous oversight. As a member of this House, I am insulted by the slap in the face that we get when the departments blatantly disregard our resolutions, and feel that every respectable member of the ANC, the ruling party here today, must feel the sting of that slap twice as hard as I do.

The Democratic Alliance supports this report; with the proviso that policy development is not rushed to meet with deadlines and officials are held accountable for inadequate work.

I thank you.

 

 

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