Speech notes by Vicky Knoetze MPL: State of the Province Address 2018

Broken infrastructure is one of the largest contributors to our broken economy in the Eastern Cape

  • Dysfunctional local government is symptomatic of poor provincial leadership as municipalities fail and flout the letter of the law.
  • Broken roads and broken infrastructure are one of the largest contributors to our broken economy in the Eastern Cape.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable members and guests, good afternoon.

The Premier acknowledged in his speech that the economy of the province has not been in the shape it needed to be with an expected growth rate of only 1.7% by 2019, and that as a result, we could not address our challenges which includes the extremely high unemployment rate.

Honourable Speaker, a low economic growth rate and increasing high unemployment is indicative of a broken province.

Unfortunately, the Premier did not delve into offering solutions, a plan of action or innovative steps to address the low economic growth rate and the resultant high unemployment levels.

The question is why?

Is it because there is actually no real plan to effect actual change for the people of the EC?

Is it because there is no real plan to address our dwindling economy?

Or is it because there is no strategy to create real permanent jobs for the people of the EC?

We should be looking at more innovative solutions to our modern day issues.

We should be calling for new ideas to increase cost-effectiveness and value for money.

We should be taking steps to ensure that the EC becomes an attractive location for foreign-direct investment and create the climate for investment.

The DA offered an innovative solution just last year which would have created thousands of jobs, hundreds of opportunities for start-ups and SMME’s would have addressed the issue of expensive roads infrastructure and put us on a path of addressing the R100-billion backlog on roads maintenance once and for all. But the ANC shot down the idea of replacing bitumen in the roads construction process with waste plastic.

The bottom line is this – the answer to turning around our economy and creating jobs starts with one thing – the upgrading and further development of our infrastructure.

I am glad that the Premier stated that the emerging roads network will give impetus to economic growth and will give our tourism sector a boost. I, therefore, assume that this means that roads to tourism destinations will be prioritised.

Honourable Speaker, thank goodness for SANRAL and the amount of work that they are doing on our roads in the EC. Instead of bragging about what SANRAL is doing in the province, one would have hoped the Premier would speak more about what our own Department of Roads is doing in the province. But we are desperate so we will take what we can get.

Having said that, Honourable Speaker, there seems to be a problem at local government level which is the sphere of government closest to the people.

What is of concern is the number of unviable municipalities in the EC. What is of concern is the number of municipalities that are struggling to follow the letter of the law and are simply flouting provisions of local government legislation such as the Systems Act, the Structures Act and the MFMA.

There are various municipalities that are struggling to meet their executive obligations. The DA informed the MEC of a number of such instances of alleged irregular appointment of MM’s and senior managers in Walter Sisulu LM, Port St Johns Municipality and Intsika Yethu Municipality, Enoch Mgijima Municipality and most recently Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.

Poor administration on local government level is a symptom of poor leadership at higher levels.

We have to get things right at local government level, as it is the sphere of government closest to the people.

Honourable Speaker, the Democratic Alliance will continue our efforts to root out corruption, incompetence, non-compliance and cadre deployment in municipalities.

We will continue to offer innovative solutions in an attempt to improve the lives of the people of the EC and fix this broken province.