Speech by Athol Trollip, MPL and DA Leader – Eastern Cape, in reply to the State of the Province Address

There can be no doubt that South Africa and the Eastern Cape are better places to live in in 2014 than they were in 1994. No sane person could gainsay this nor does the DA. However Mr Speaker and Madam Premier, you would be delusional if you thought that this improvement came about in an ANC vacuum.

The DA is proud of the pivotal contribution it has made in ensuring this improvement. (Siyazidla ngegalelo lethu Kulempucuko). You see in a multiparty constitutional democracy, the opposition plays a critical role, especially in hegemonic government scenarios such as that which prevails in this province.

The critical voice and oversight responsibility of opposition parties is all the more important in situations where the governing party’s dominance is such that it silences any overt or public criticism from within. This overbearing attitude was never better displayed than at the Daily Dispatch Dialogue last Tuesday evening where the SG of the ANC debated the contents of the book entitled “The fall of the ANC” with its authors, prince Mashele and Mzukizi Qobo.

No other political party in this legislature has held the ANC to account better than the DA and its predessesor party since 1994. Look at the records around questions asked, motions put, contributions to committee meetings and the entire Hansard record. They speak for themselves in testimony to the role that the DA has played in ensuring that life in the Eastern Cape continues to improve.

The DA agrees also that the legacy of Apartheid is enduring and that it has been more difficult to eradicate them expected – (Hayi! nyani inenkani intshelo yencienezelo)

This is why we have made the philosophy of R2D2 our foundational platform. (Reconciliation, Redress, Diversity and Delivery) where the DA governs these core values result in better governance and better living conditions for all citizens. (Yiyo lento abantu beliphondo bayo-funa Amadlelo amahlaza Ekapa)

Madam Premier, allow me to join you in paying tribute to those that have gone before us and given so much to get us to where we are today. I enjoin our party with your special mention of President Nelson Mandela. Thank you for mentioning Molly Blackburn and Pine Pienaar in the same breath as the ANC legends that you paid tribute to. This in itself is recognition of the role played by our party in the progress of this province.

Madame Premier, your “reflective narrative” of the past 20 years followed the patter of President Zuma’s SONA. This is all well and good but where was the forward looking vision for this province that continues to hemorrhage its human capital to neighboring provinces with better economic and opportunity prospects such as the Western Cape and Gauteng.

The Eastern Cape’s provincial growth and development plans vision is “The make the Eastern Cape a compelling place to visit, live, work and invest in” Why has this not materialized in retaining our human capital and attracting foreign investment capital in order to create jobs

The reflective narrative is reminiscent of what is happening in Argentina where Peronista’s exhort the electorate to vote for a “better yesterday” personified by “Juan Peron” who died in 1974 and his wife who died in 1952. Their faces still appear on the party’s ballot papers today. The DA has a better story to tell, one that looks forward and offers hope and opportunity.

The DA is also on record in this legislature for its support of the Nqurha IDZ and the ELIDZ, the contained growth and expansion of these two important economic zones is indeed encouraging for job creation and economic growth.

However Madam Premier, I don’t share your and MEC Jona’s enthusiasm for the planned special economic zones earmarked for the KSD and Lukhanji areas. This is because there they are focused on Agriculture and related Agri industries. Our performance in this regard in this province in the past 20 years has been woeful to say the least.

Reflect if you will on Magwa, Khangela, Ncora the aborted sugar beet project and now stationary biofuel project in Cradock. Not to mention the hemp, cotton and honey bee disasters under Premier Stofiles tenure. Our state led agrarian reform projects remain unsustainable and the transfer of skills has been negligible.

The cooperative relationship between the provincial department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform and its sister national departments of Agriculture, forestry and fisheries and rural development and land reform is virtually nonexistent. This dislocated relationship is a massive area of risk where corruption prospers. The underachievement of the Narysec programme that you referred to is testimony to this.

The only such projects that show any sustainability are the Public Private initiatives entered into with Amadlelo Agri. Why is this model not replicated and rolled out across the province? Me thinks it is because the management and accountability of such projects reduce the scope for “self-service” a euphemism for corruption.

Speaking of corruption Mr Speaker, I found it disturbing that the Premier dedicated so little (one paragraph) of her speech to the state of local government in her address.

On the morning of your address MEC Qoboshiyane said, “immaturity and vested interests in tenders are often at the centre of interference by politicians in the administration of some troubled municipalities” Well in the case of the Nelson Mandela Metro Mayor Ben Fihla cannot be considered immature at the ripe old age of 81, so the latter must apply.

In Buffalo City the grand larceny of funds intended to allow citizens to pay their last respects to Nelson Mandela is reflective of the “buffet” culture that prevails at local government level. There is little wonder why service delivery grinds to a halt in such an environment.

MEC Qoboshiyane went on to say “It was important for politicians to understand the limits of their power” and “That Mayors needed to understand the laws that governed them as well as their oversight responsibility” (Hallelujah!! From his hips to Gods ears) But I venture that this sage advice is all the more applicable to you and that the responsibility for the chaotic state of local government lies squarely at your and his feet. The voters will not let you get away with this continued state of poor service delivery and ineptitude!!

Tourism continues to be faced with self-created headwinds such as the murder and robbery of tourists and the recent Buffalo City garbage debacle over a weekend where we hosted the Africa Open, The Daily Dispatch Cycle Tour and a major National rowing regatta. These things turn tourists away and the consequences are devastating.

Premier I agree some of our major roads have been well repaired and this is what is expected. There are however some profoundly important roads for our provincial economy that militate against economic growth and they receive no maintenance attention at all. The Sundays River Valley is a case in point and the road from the valley to the nearest port is also in such a poor state of repair that it compromises the Citrus industry. I have tried to secure a meeting with the relevant MEC for a year, to no avail. I also wish to endorse your acknowledgement that our unsurfaced road network continues to deteriorate at a rate that will render their realistic repair impossible. These are our provinces’ economic lifelines that are being destroyed by funding backlogs, corruption and incompetence.

Lastly Mr Speaker, let me dispel the myth of our improved matric results and claims of improvement in the department of Education. We remain the worst performing province as far as results are concerned, despite the fact that we have reduced the pass rate to 30%. You said the school nutrition programme is working so well that the learners want to go to school on Saturdays and Sundays! Who will teach them because SADTU teachers do not even teach from Monday to Friday.

We lost approximately 110 000 OF THE 185 000 learners that enrolled for school 12 years ago as only 75 000 wrote matric. These children have no hope or future other than standing in an EPWP queue to get piece work to push a spade or to draw some kind of SASSSA grant from the State. This is not a better life. This is a life of dependency and enslavement that no right minded parent ever envisions for their child. My colleague will further illustrate the real state of Education later this afternoon.

No Madame Premier, this is NOT A GOOD STORY to tell if you scrutinize both sides of the coin, you only spoke about the shiny side.

Your governments’ track record will influence voters on the 7th of May.