Speech notes by Marshall von Buchenroder on consideration of budget votes on Safety and Liaison – 16 May 2018

Honourable Speaker

Honourable Premier

Honourable MECs

Honourable members of the house

Ladies and gentlemen in the public gallery

Indeed I am privileged and honoured to be able to stand before you today, to debate the budget vote for Safety and Liaison for the 2018/19 Financial Year.

Allow me to wish all mothers a Happy Belated Mother’s Day.

In John C Maxwell’s book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, with particular reference to the chapter: “Law of Connection”, I would like to quote verbatim what he says: “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”

As the new leader, John knew that the most influential person in the organisation could torpedo his leadership.  So what did he do? He reached out using the law of connection.

We need to connect with the people working within the Department and not work past each other.  When connecting in that way, we must listen to them when they are making a clear call for help.  Many a time, the ruling party stands here and says, “We are for the people, by the people”, yet they are not connecting with the people.

The Department has been run by an acting HOD for the last year and is still going to continue for the next seven months.  This begs the question, is it a healthy and accountable situation that the department has found itself in?  I say no.  Without a permanent accounting officer, it is very difficult to hold your peers to account in order for them to perform optimally and to execute their duties effectively.  Section 38 (1)(d) of the PFMA clearly states that the accounting officer for a department “is responsible for the management, including the safeguarding and the maintenance of the assets, and for the management of the liabilities of the department.”  Speaker, the entire section is relevant to a permanent HOD, as section 36 (2)(a) states that the head of a department must be the accounting officer for the department.  In other words, we are damned if we do and we are damned if we don’t.

The department is of a highly technocratic nature and as a result, we are lacking a vigorous oversight model.  A number of issues have emerged during 2018; one being the Ngcobo case, whereby a number of officers, including a military veteran, was killed.  Indeed, this was a sad day for this province. This is but one of the examples that I would like to highlight and what I would call, “sweetheart deals”.  We must stop with the sweetheart deals.  We need vigorous oversight into SAPS without any fear or favour.  In doing that, SAPs will have to implement resolutions taken in this house.  Speaker, we cannot stand here, year in and year out, at this podium reading out findings and recommendations with the famous words, “a progress report must be furnished to the committee 30 days after the adoption of this report”.  I am yet to see such a report from any department in my four years in this legislature.

My perspective is that all the above is attributed to the lack of a permanent HOD. The complete absence of the Law of Connection.  There is absolutely no political will to appoint a permanent HOD.  We are calling on the Premier to intervene urgently in order to appoint a permanent HOD.  We know that the ruling party is facing a difficult time with reshuffling and internal party squabbling, but it cannot be at the expense of the residents of this province.  The people of this province need efficient service delivery.

Arches Building

The Department is sitting in a newly renovated building with a number of defects.

  1. The location of the building is not in the best interest of the department.  Someone within Safety and Liaison has approved this building yet it is not conducive to the functioning of the Department.
  2. There are not enough parking spaces for employers/staff.
  3. Security at the building is not operational due to non-payment for a number of months. There is no interaction with staff and security.
  4. The taxi rank and other tenants in the same building.
  5. The Department pays a rental of R263 125 per month which amounts to R3 157 500 per year and R15 787 500 over the entire contract period. (5 years).
  6. We cannot have a rate of R 97.75 / square meter with a rental space of 2 321m2. My perspective is that the Department of Public Works should investigate and come up with new innovative ideas.  It begs the question, why can we not build or buy a building?  Why must we rent at this huge cost?

The Premier and all the MECs stood before this house and said that due to budget cuts, “we must do more with less”.  Indeed this is not the case as we are spending R15 787 million on rental.  We can do more but only when there is total change.  This will happen in less than one year when the voters of this province bring about the total change that is needed.  It is also a disconnection with regards to the law of connection.  It is my perspective that officials are in need of a decent working environment with all the necessary resources they require before they start their daily, monthly and yearly duties.  During our oversight we witnessed up to eight staff members in one small room.  Surely this cannot be the norm.

We cannot stand on public platforms advocating that we are for the people by the people, with the people when in reality we are against the people.

They say that where there is smoke there is fire.  There are talks that the Office of the Premier is thinking of integrating the Department of Safety into another programme or Department.  This begs the question, why?  The Constitution is very clear on the roles and responsibility of the Department.  The norm in all eight other provinces of the Republic is that Safety and Liaison should be a Department on its own in order to exercise their oversight over SAPS.  Therefore, we would like to make a call on the Premier to suspend such talks and rather strengthen the department by filling all 11 funded vacancies as well as the appointment of a permanent HOD.  This will, in turn, result in spending their budget and be the liaison between civilian and SAPS.  There are other issues that were deliberated on but due to time constraints, I will not be speaking on these issues.

We must create a safer province with the intention to attract more investors in order to create sustainable jobs.  People need to feel safe in the province and to live without fear.  Children need to play in the parks without fearing for their lives.

The DA supports the Safety and Liaison Budget Vote.