Speech notes: Annual report 2015/16, Office of the Premier, by Edmund van Vuuren MPL

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, the Executive Council, Colleagues, Officials from the Office of The Premier, dignitaries and visitors, allow me to greet you this morning.

Hon. Speaker the Office of the Premier will not be judged by how many clean audits it has obtained in this fifth term of the provincial legislature but by the differences it has made to the lives of ordinary people in the province.

Eastern Cape is one of the poorest provinces in the country and our people are migrating to other provinces such as Gauteng and Western Cape in search of better lives for themselves and their families. The migration of our people to other provinces has a negative impact to the amount of money that the province receives from the national fiscus.

The Office of the Premier has received an unqualified audit opinion with a matter of emphasis for the second consecutive year now. The Democratic Alliance is concerned about the amount of irregular expenditure that has increased from R1, 44m in 2014/15 financial year to R4, 410m in 2015/16 financial year. We are interested to know why the department has allowed the irregular expenditure to increase 3 fold within a period of 12 months, and what intervention steps were envisaged to curb such expenditure which is contrary to good financial management.

In terms of Section 38(1) (c) (ii) of the PFMA the accounting officer for the department must take effective and appropriate steps to prevent unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Why did the Accounting Officer of the Office of the Premier not complied with this section of the PFMA?, and if not why was consequence management not applied?

In 2015/16 financial year the department has spent R644, 886m (96%) from its allocated budget of R671, 672m and had an under spending of R26,786m (4.0%).  Hon. Speaker the same Office of the Premier had an underspending of R35, 147m and R18, 109m in 2014/15 and 2013/14 financial years respectively. The department has been underspending its budget for the past 3 financial years. Hon. Speaker continuous underspending for consecutive years is an indication of poor planning by management of the department. Is it possible incompetency or just sheer lack of committed dedication to task? Just asking?

Honourable Speaker, we are in the middle of the 5th term of this administration now, and underspending impact negatively on service delivery because the money that had not been used by the Office of the Premier could have    been used to improve the lives of ordinary people in our province.


Hon. Speaker, the Strategic and Operational  Support sub-programme has used R203,700m from its allocation of R206,918m but that amount also include an amount of R160m that was transferred to Eskom for electricity hotspots projects in Ntabankulu, Mbizana, Intsika Yethu, Mbashe , Matatiele, King Sabatha Dalindyebo municipality, Elundini substations in Ntabankulu and Umzimvubu. The Democratic Alliance wants to be informed as to the status of these projects in the areas mentioned, because the Office of the Premier has not transferred an amount of R90, 8m to Eskom in the first quarter of the 2016/17 financial year in lieu of these projects, and monies not spent that were earmarked for identified infrastructural projects, will have to be surrendered to the Provincial Treasury?

Another amount of R14, 562m from that R203, 700m was also transferred to Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency to rescue Magwa and Majola Tea estates. What has been done by the government to these tea estates to ensure that they are able to function on their own? The Democratic Alliance would also like to know the state of the financial positions of these two tea estates after the business rescue, as these estates seems to be wholly reliant on the government and does not yield the anticipated results. INPUT FROM GOVERNMENT, BUT ZERO OUTPUT FROM THE SUBSIDIZED. This is an example of how not to transact business.

Hon. Speaker the levels of professionalism in the provincial administration are at an all-time low, in the financial year under review, because of the following:

  • None of the 13 provincial departments have approved culture and Batho Pele Revitalisation strategies.
  • No provincial departments have implemented and monitored their culture change management plans and Batho Pele Revitalisation strategy.
  • The provincial business process framework and methodology are in draft form and has not been approved.
  • There is no support from top management in the provincial departments for the Batho Pele Revitalisation Strategy.

Hon.Speaker it is clear from reports received that ordinary people are not taken seriously by the provincial government, especially from officials within the top management echelons within this Provincial Administration, across most, if not all the Departments.  Something must be done speedily to ensure that people are put first. There is no time for slogans now, and the government needs to ensure that opportunities are availed to our people through proper service delivery actions.

The levels of leadership effectiveness in the provincial administration are still at the lowest level because of the following:

  • Four Departments do not have functional governance structures.
  • Seven Departments have no functional audit units.
  • Only 4 departments have functional risk management arrangements while, four departments are implementing Department of Public Service and Administration delegations.
  • The lack of these most important structures within our Government Departments is indicative of the low outcomes with relation to effective service delivery and effective Leadership. The Democratic Alliance is a proponent of effective and clean governance, the delivery of quality services to all who deserves such services as well as a frontrunner in fighting corruption where we are in government. Our people will most certainly be the beneficiaries if the government of the day seriously consider replicating such good values and ethics.

Underspending in Provincial ICT sub-programme in the 2015/2016 financial year is R6, 073m. The department has continued to underspend in this sub-programme although the budget allocation has decreased from R104, 582m in 2014/15 to R78, 452m in the financial year under review.  To my disbelief I was informed that  75% of the ICT infrastructure has not been implemented because the ICT procurement was under review. In the last financial year 6 out of 9 ICT projects (67%) were not implemented because of the delays in the finalisation of ICT bids due to specification challenges. Surely Hon. Speaker, it is clear that the Office of the Premier has major challenges in procuring Goods & Services for ICT. In 2014/15 the department stated that it will request assistance for the SITA services when doing procurement for ICT.

Did the department engage SITA to address the challenge? By the look of the non-implementation of ICT projects, it is obvious that there is no capacity to implement these projects, and there is an arrogance to ask for assistance from an entity that specialises in these projects. Once more, our people are deprived of quality services.

Hon. Speaker underspending in Anti-Corruption and Security management sub-programme is R760 000. It is also states that assessment done for district and metropolitan municipalities indicates that there is no minimum capacity for anti-corruption and fraud. Clearly the municipalities are vulnerable to fraud and corruption, yet the Office of the Premier has no clear plan to build the required levels of capacity in order to eradicate the scourge of fraud and corruption.

The provincial government still has 95 backlog cases dating back to 2004. It is also stated in the report that the backlog is due to limited investigative capacity in departments. Or is there an unwillingness to do the right thing, irrespective of fear or favour? I’m simply asking?

Hon. Speaker the Office of the Premier must ensure to take stock and put its house in order. The provincial administration is not performing well as a collective. There are Service delivery Agreements that have been signed between the Premier and the individual MECs, but we are in the dark whether these signed service delivery agreements are adding value to the provincial administration?

The Democratic Alliance belief they are not adding value because we are still experiencing massive under spending and irregular expenditure in this province

The province has some challenges in proper planning and in executing its plans.

Hon. Speaker there is hard work that needs to be done, if we as public representatives are serious about the lives of the people in our province. Our province needs committed leaders that must ensure that service delivery is accelerated and people’s lives are improved.

The Democratic Alliance supports the report.