Madam Speaker, Honourable Premier, MEC’s, Honourable Members and our esteemed guests in the public gallery.
Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by acknowledging the MEC’s responsive action to my motion in this house on the 11th of October calling for more to be done to rescue our rhinos. I must thank the MEC for his leadership in uniting all interested and affected parties behind this worthy cause in a march to the High Court in Makanda on the 26th of November.
This responsive leadership bodes well for the relationship between the legislature and the executive when the MEC takes up his new role next year, however there are some letters from me still sitting on his desk to which I am awaiting a response. I am confident though that I will receive these responses with my Christmas Box from the MEC before the year is out.
Madam Speaker, when the lights went out in this house yesterday it reminded me of the sad state of our government and of our economy. It was also a prophetic warning to those in power that that they too could be without power in the not too distant future when the people of this province hit the off switch at the ballot box.
Madam Speaker, the MEC was recently quoted referring to the hill of hope that we need to climb as a province, however it feels more like the people of this province are running backwards up a slippery slope sliding closer to the edge of the fiscal cliff.
This slippery slope has been greased for years by incompetence, policy confusion and the greedy slime of corrupt politicians and civil servants whose only interests are their own.
It is important to note the temporary stay of execution for our economy due to the last quarters GDP results, however it is more important to note that this occurred before the lights went out on our economy. I suggest we keep the champagne on ice!
e are teetering on the brink, Honourable MEC!
It is time for an urgent rescue plan for our broken economy.
When I am asked how we got to this tipping point I am reminded of an isiXhosa proverb which I believe perfectly captures the present state of our province:
“Iqabane liqale lasika inqatha lomqolo kuqala”
(The comrade started by cutting the fat at the back first)
Madam Speaker, We must recognise at this point, that the Honourable MEC has the unenviable task of having to stand here and defend the poor performance of his predecessor. The good news, however, is that his predecessors shoes are easy to fill but time will tell whether this MEC can walk the talk down a new path in his own shoes.
The Annual Report of the department shows unsatisfactory improvement with the critical underperformance in economic development of greatest concern. Economic Development underspent on its budget and only reached 50% of its performance targets underachieving on enterprise development, investment and job creation.
In a province with an unemployment crisis like ours somebody’s head must roll for this unacceptable failure. The MEC needs to set detailed jobs targets for the relevant programmes and entities and if unemployment goes up officials must step down. There can be no progress without consequences and the consequences must extended to the ECDC.
We must celebrate the clean audit for the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, sadly it is the exception rather than the rule. I would like to encourage the MEC to focus on improving our tourism returns in the province by reviewing our destination marketing strategy and improving the quality of tourism experiences across the province. Tourism is one of the great job creating sectors in South Africa, sadly our underperformance still exceeds our potential.
Madam Speaker, the worrying stand-off between the Coega Development Corporation and the Auditor General has led to the entity failing to table its annual report in this house. The AG handed Coega a qualified audit and their refusal to accept this outcome raises alarm bells. If I had to pick a side in this fight MEC I would choose the AG who has now been given the teeth to act decisively to root out corruption wherever it may hide. The MEC must urgently review the performance of the Coega board and remove underperforming board members with haste.
Given the constrained fiscal environment we must be prudent and that is why we are calling for the rationalisation of our entities to ensure we receive value for money as more than 50% of our budget is outsourced to these entities.
In his overview of the annual report the Honourable MEC confronted, with refreshing honesty, some of the most pressing challenges our economy faces in the Eastern Cape.
The MEC said, and I quote, “”the Eastern Cape is the capital of unemployment but we are also the capital of red tape!”
Honourable Members, what the MEC was referring to is the invisible hand of government which has wrapped its greedy hands around the throat of our economy, strangling the hopes and aspirations of small businesses and the unemployed youth.
As the capital of unemployment there are 730,000 people unemployed while another 410,000 people have given up hope of ever finding a job. The MEC’s hill of hope was too steep for these poor people to climb and they have come sliding down.
More than a million people without work is a sure sign of a government that is not working. This is a sad tale of hopelessness in one of the richest provinces in our country.
As the capital of red tape it is our small businesses which continue to suffer from the onerous constraints that this incapable state has bequeathed upon them.
Load shedding, fuel price increases, collapsing municipalities and never ending red tape are suffocating the growth potential of these businesses and our economy.
Given the right leadership and policy environment we can fix the broken economy and rescue the jobless from hopelessness. More than half of all jobs in South Africa in the last year were created in the Western Cape. That province is our nation’s beacon of hope in a sea of economic despair.
The red tape reduction unit in the Department of Economic Opportunities has created an enabling environment for investment attraction and retention creating thousands of jobs. Stable local governments and forward thinking energy solutions ensure uninterrupted services to businesses so that they can grow and create more jobs in that province.
All across our own province the people of the Eastern Cape are sending out an SOS.
It is a cry for help from a restless citizenry in desperate need of rescuing from a corrupt and uncaring government that has no rescue plan to fix this broken province and save its people.
It is time to rescue the people of the Eastern Cape from the shackles of economic bondage and dependency. It is time for the economic liberation of this province. It is time for a new government.
Madam Speaker, The DA has a rescue plan to turn the fortunes of our province around and create fair access to real, long term jobs in the Eastern Cape
We will introduce a voluntary national service which will guarantee one year of income and skills development for school leavers
Job centres will spring up across the province providing information, advice and free internet to job seekers
We will grow small business opportunities through increased funding assistance and removing red tape.
The prosecution and elimination of the practice of sex for jobs and carpet interviews will take centre stage in our fight for fair access to jobs.
And we will stop the corrupt practice of cash for jobs in its tracks and prosecute those responsible.
You see Madam Speaker, the DA is building a movement.
It is a worthy movement founded on our core values.
It is a movement inspiring hope for change among the 9 million unemployed South Africans across the country.
It is a movement that seeks to unite and heal the racial division in our land.
It is a movement that cannot be stopped.
It is a movement that will not be stopped because, deep down inside, it was what we all want.
One South Africa For All.
The DA accepts the report.