Your lack of action . . . is resulting in R90-million a month being lost — Bobby Stevenson

OPPOSITION parties have lashed out at Eastern Cape premier Noxolo Kiviet’s failure to show leadership in the crises facing the provincial departments of education and health during her state of the province address last week. In her address, Kiviet said she was positive that both departments were turning the corner. This was despite Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi having to spend about two weeks in the province to help defuse the impasse between the departments and Cosatu aligned unions.

The tensions saw Sadtu members disrupt schooling for about two weeks as they embarked on a go-slow.

Official opposition leader Nkosinathi Kuluta, of COPE, said they had expected Kiviet to make a firm commitment on when the continued chronic shortage of drugs and equipment in health facilities would be addressed.

He said this included the non-availability of linen, providing a decent and healthy diet, and addressing shortages of basic equipment, doctors and nurses.

He also accused the premier, in her speech, of being silent on the continued impasse between education department head Modidima Mannya and Sadtu. Sadtu has called on Mannya to resign. DA leader in the provincial legislature Bobby Stevenson criticised the deal signed between Sadtu and the provincial department of education.

“There needs to be a balance between the rights of unions and the rights of learners,” he said.

“By caving in to the unions, the province is jeopardising the future of education.”

He reminded Kiviet about her address last year, when she made a commitment that the issue of the 5 122 additional teachers would be sorted out within six months.

“The failure to deal with this issue costs the province R1.070-billion a year. Your lack of action in this area is resulting in R90-million a month being lost for education.

“This, together with over-expenditure in the health department, is jeopardising our overall provincial position.”

Max Mhlathi, of the UDM, said Kiviet should have touched on reasons why the matric class of 2011 did not meet the 60% pass rate target she had set. “In her speech, no mention has been made of the failure to meet the commitment and why the results regressed,” he said.

Last year’s matric pass rate dropped to 58.1%, down from 58.3% in 2010.

However, opposition parties welcomed Kiviet’s announcement on job creation and the roll-out of infrastructure and rural development programmes this year, including the investment of more than R2-billion in the East London Port, and R20-billion in the Port of Ngqurha over the next seven years.

“Premier, the role of your provincial government is to create the right climate in this province for job creation and economic growth,” said Stevenson.