Speech: Office of the Premier Annual Report 2017/18

Shadow MEC for Education, Edmund Van Vuuren

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.

Madam Speaker, when perusing the Annual Report for the Office of the Premier for the 2017/18 financial year, it paints a very bleak picture, with its under performances out shining any achievements.

The Office of the Premier under-spent its allocated budget by R76, 698 million for the 2017/18 financial year.

Madam Speaker, the office of the Premier’s initiative to connect libraries, schools, clinics, hospitals, traffic centres and education district offices was one that would have pushed the Eastern Cape into the 21st century. But sadly, the Broadband project is still in an infancy stage.

Madam Speaker, with an allocated budget of roughly R218 million to provide broadband to these facilities, the office of the premier was only able to connect 3 out of the targeted 387 identified sites, in comparison the Western Cape has connected 1,875 government sites to a fibre network and has launched 178 free Wi-Fi hotspots across the province benefitting over 250 000 citizens to date.

Connectivity is the future and the Eastern Cape government could learn some valuable lessons from the Western Cape government. After all, it should, in the end, all be in the interest of the people.

Madam Speaker, I love my province, the Eastern Cape, so let me return to the realities and the politics within the Eastern Cape.

Sadly, this department as a lead department, is so fractious that it itself cannot shine a light for others. The anticipated reconfiguration and the re-assignments of employees to other directorates is causing more harm than the unity and efficiency espoused.

In other words, as the leading department, it is disappointing in executing its mandate to the fullest in that its core functions and responsibilities such as leading the provincial development agenda for a shared vision, leading socio-economic transformation and strengthening accountability in corporate governance, are just terminologies still to be taken out of the locked cupboards, read and hopefully understood with the intention to implement.

Currently there is no shared vision within this province as the different provincial departments executes the supposedly shared visions incongruently and as a result of a disastrous evaluation and monitoring system by the office of the Premier, the citizens of this province are not beneficiaries of a shared vision supposedly to enhance their way of living by substantially eradicating unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Madam Speaker, very little has been achieved to decrease the high rate of unemployment although efforts are afoot to transform the economic situation.

Honourable Speaker, there is very little to say about strengthening accountability in corporate governance because if it was the case our officials would have applied Ubuntu a long time ago.

Our people would have been serviced with the necessary efficiency and they, the officials, would have accounted for services not delivered or tasks not completed.

Honourable Speaker, I will now return to the performances of the programmes within the office of the Premier.

The biggest under expenditure for the 2017/18 financial year fell under programme 1 which is Administration with a total of R84 million – R48, 7 million of this under expenditure was as a result of the delays in the broadband rollout project.

Madam Speaker, planning, policy coordination, monitoring and evaluation has, for many years, not been a strength within the Office of the Premier. This programme underspent its budget by R5,3 million.

Another dismal statistic is that 0, yes, 0 cases of service delivery issues that were reported to the provincial hotline were resolved.

Madam Speaker, in a nutshell, this means that the people of the Eastern Cape contacted the provincial hotline to raise their concerns within their communities, and this government has basically said “I don’t care about your problems”. If this government truly cared for the people of the Eastern Cape, we would not be sitting with 0 resolved cases.

Madam Speaker, programme 3, Institutional development and organisational support, which is responsible for managing the administration of the public service system and promoting accountable governance, underspent its budget by R2,4 million.

Madam Speaker, why must the Premier of this province have difficulty to elicit job assessments from his MECs with regard to the performances of the HODs of departments. If assessments are to assist with performances, why then are the MECs not complying in providing assessments of their HODs in order for their performances to be critically evaluated, and for preventative measures to be introduced resulting in enhancing the performances of the departments. The questions still remains, why, why, why are MECs not compliant?

Honourable Speaker, this government of the Eastern Cape does not care for the elderly. It is a disgrace that the living conditions of our elderly in old age homes and frail care homes are uninhabitable. Infrastructure is falling apart and our elderly are living a less than dignified life in their twilight years.

It was those mothers and fathers in the old age homes such as Elizabeth Stuurman, Buffelsfontien, Adcock, Allan Hendriks and Bethelsdorp Old age homes in the Port Elizabeth area, who have been crying out for years for their living conditions and safety to be attended to.

This government, Honourable Speaker, that claims to be a government for the people, claims to be a caring government, has left our elderly to fend for themselves. They have deserted the elderly and for doing that you will be punished at the ballot box.

A DA government has shown where it governs it provides services to both the youth and the elderly and in the Eastern Cape, the ANC government has relented to the extent that they have no clue how to treat our elderly with dignity.

The state of our old age homes is inhumane and this government should embrace a “pathos” moment for the plight of our elderly – yes, there should be an emotion of sympathetic pity for the elderly that has raised us, fed us, schooled us and this is our thank you to them.

Along with the issues that our elderly face, clinics and post offices are being closed due to criminal activities, and yet this government sits by and watches how the residents of the Eastern Cape are purposefully denied government services on a daily basis.

Honourable Speaker, for this province to be economically competitive, the Premier should oversee the following, and hopefully implement it.

  1. The Premier should set a target for full broadband coverage and convert as many as possible the provinces broadband points into free Wi-Fi spots, and also allow for concurrent users at these hotspots to have 500MEGS of free data per month. Premier, you must initiate and be proactive.
  2. The Premier should recognize that creating skills pathway opportunities for young people is of the utmost importance. If indeed he has, in recognizing that thousands of learners matriculating has no study or job prospects, the apprenticeships can offer young people the key first step onto the career level. The Premier should commission an audit with employers to identify the technical and vocational jobs most needed and ensuring that there are sufficiently skilled young people to meet this demand.
  3. Thirdly, the Premier should have a clear plan to create fair access of real long term jobs with the focus on

(a) Creating job centres throughout the province that provides information, advice and free internet to job seekers.

(b) Growing small business opportunities through increase funding assistance and removing blockages and red tape. Honourable Speaker, let us not look where the proposals are coming from, but rather at the consequences of total rejection of said proposals.

It is time to wake up, smell the roses and put the people first!

The Democratic Alliance supports the report.