Speech Notes by Bobby Stevenson (MPL): Response to SOPA 2019 – Building One SA for All

The President, during SONA, used the phrase; “Watch this Space!” a few times. When he said this, it made me think of the DA seats in the provincial legislature, after the 8th May.

I just had this picture in my mind of ours seats getting more and more… so I say Hon. Premier, watch this space! After the 8th May.

When the SAPS members blew their trumpets for the Speaker, and the Premier, as they sat down to join the group photo it reminded me of how the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. Need I say more?

The Premier in the State of the Province Address did not cast a vision of how one can break down the divisions that divide people in the Eastern Cape. He correctly touched on all the right areas without the right answers.

While he was looking back, the people of the province are crying for him to look forward.

The Eastern Cape is a broken province, in need of urgent fixing. It is so broken, that between 2006 and 2018, 1.5 million people have left this province in search of greener pastures. This is indeed heartbreaking, that the sons and daughters of the Eastern Cape do not see a future in this province.

This is not what people struggled for. People who I knew, like Molly Blackburn, Raymond Mhlaba, and Govan Mbeki did not foresee this kind of future for the Eastern Cape. They would be bitterly disappointed.

This also has dire consequences for our budget, because we are losing billions or rands in equitable share. Funding that we cannot afford to lose! We are trapped in a negative downward spiral, and the Premier announced no major game changers to reverse this.

In the dark past it was apartheid that was a barrier that divided us, now there is still a division.

This is a province that is divided between the insiders and outsiders.

The insiders are those who have access to opportunities and the outsiders are those who don’t. The insiders are also a connected elite, who through their connections, manipulate tender processes for their own benefits, in connivance with officials and politicians.

The outsiders are also those honest, and hardworking business people that are struggling to keep their businesses going, that refuse to be party to corrupt acts.

Keeping a business going these days is a lot more difficult. Not only do you have to fight off those greedy politicians and civil servants that are looking for a kick back either for themselves or their party, but you have a battle to keep the lights on.

Eskom’s failure is a monument to state capture, corruption, maladministration and poor management. After 10 years of massive capital expenditure, the price of electricity going up by 170%, and the work force increasing by 50%, Eskom now generated less electricity in 2018 than they did in 2004.

The crisis with Eskom is going to hit our already fragile provincial economy extremely hard. Only the privatisation of Eskom will make the difference we need to allow the independent power producers to compete with Eskom. Unless we harness the powers of the private sector, South Africa won’t have an efficient and cost effective power supply. The ANC needs to put pragmatism and the people first before ideology.

The Eskom debacle has put the ANC firmly in the electric chair, and on 8th May the voters are going to pull the switch.

Just last week, the labour force statistics were released, showing that unemployment in this province has increased. We have the highest expanded rate in the country at 46.8% or over 1.2 million people who are unemployed.

In contrast to this, in the DA governed Western Cape, unemployment decreased. It has the lowest rate of unemployment in South Africa, and in the last year, 50% of all new jobs that were created in South Africa were created in the Western Cape. Even in the rural heart land of the Western Cape unemployment decreased to just over 15%. What a testimony to good governance and delivery!

Bad governance in the other hand is the reason why it is, that in the Eastern Cape, the pool of those excluded from jobs, the outsiders, continues to grow. The people of this province cannot afford any more job shedding on top of load shedding.

The outsiders are also those businesses who battle to get payment from the provincial government. A total of 5503 businesses in the Eastern Cape were owed over R311 million in excess of 30 days as at the end of December 2018. This has devastating consequences.

We need to create the right climate to attract investment in this province. Corruption is killing opportunity and unemployment is oppressing us.

There are regular reports of corruption, such as the National Treasury’s special audit service report relating to the Eastern Capes expenditure. R1.6 billion was misspent by the provincial government between 2011 and 2016.

The Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works spent 100’s of millions of rands without projects going on to tender between 2013 and 2016.

How is it that 120 civil servants continue to do business with the province, which is against the law? How does this continue to happen under the Premiers watch? How does this happen?

When we hire “deployees” for the wrong reasons, it becomes difficult to fire them for the right reasons.

The people of this province are tired of empty promises around corruption and want to see action. The Premier only devoted one paragraph in his speech to this.

Coming to education, the insiders are those who enjoy decent ablution facilities in schools, and the outsiders are those who have to die in pit latrines.

The insiders are those who are able to attend schools that have decent structures. The outsiders are those who attend the 436 mud structure schools.

Of the 106 000 learners who enrolled for the National Senior Certificate in the 2018 year, only 65 733 wrote their final exams. What happened to the 40 000 outsiders, those who did not write, were they intentionally culled?

When it comes to health care, it should be noted that we waste100’s of millions of rands on medico lego claims.

This is not the only place where we waste money. The closing balance for irregular expenditure for the 2017/18 financial year, was R5.2 billion. With R1.73 billion still under investigation.

When Hon. Premier, is consequent management going to be practiced in this province?

We need some high profile political, public hangings.

Why is it that the procurement process cannot be opened up to the public so that they can watch the adjudication of tenders?

When are the public entities going to be rationalized?

When I added up the annual cost of the Chief Executive Officers pay, for the 10 public entities, it amounts to R30, 48 million. That is an average of R3 million a head. The stand out ones are the CDC R5, 504 million, Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency R5, 065 million, The Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board, R3, 865 million, and the East London IDZ R3, 54 million.

When it comes to access to data, only 945 out of 5421 schools have been connected with information and communications technology.

Only 17% of learners and teachers have access to ICT at schools. This widens the gap between the insiders and the outsiders. At this rate, the fourth industrial revolution is going to by-pass the learners in the Eastern Cape, resulting in them becoming global outsiders.

In the Western Cape, the DA has already rolled out E-Learning, R1.4 billion has been spent on this. We get stuff done! We get stuff done!

When it comes to the high rate of crime in this province, the insiders are those who have access to VIP protection and those of us who live in communities. The cost of VIP protection for 2018/2019 is estimated at R1.5 billion for 300 or 400 people.

In many communities in our province, the people run the gauntlet of the criminal element. Particularly in gang ridden communities, such as the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth where even children are regularly gunned down.

How serious is the Premier, when it comes to fighting crime, when the HoD of Safety and Security post has been vacant for 2 years.

When it comes to local government the situation has become so dismal that many communities have run out of water, suffer the indignity of sewerage running in the streets, as well as living in municipalities that are fast collapsing. The small town revitalization programme has ended up becoming the small town disintegration programme.

There are many more examples of insiders and outsiders in this province. There are those who struggle to get their names on housing lists, and when they get their names on housing lists they never seem to get houses, because those who are connected somehow manage to jump the queues.

Then there are those who don’t have scholar transport and battle to get to school, and those who don’t have access to Early Childhood Development Centers.

The government has a job to create the right climate where we break down the barriers between the insiders and the outsiders and build ONE PROVINCE FOR ALL!

This means, one has to put the right policy framework in place so that all the people of this province can have fair access to opportunity, so that they can realise true freedom.

The biggest stumbling block to this is the commitment of the ANC to the national democratic revolution. This dictates that the state must control society; the party controls the state; and a vanguard or an elite within the party controls it.

State capture is the logical conclusion of this policy and it is no accident that it is happening and will continue to happen; unless the ANC releases itself from its ideological shackles and dumps cadre deployment.

The Democratic Alliance has a number of solutions to the problems that this province face.

  • We believe in fair access to long term jobs. Our policies will ensure that there is a job in every home so that people can put food on the table – a job in every home! We will end sex for jobs in this province!
  • Secondly, we believe in an honest and professional police service and will root out corruption and ensure that the police are fully resourced in order to tackle crime.
  • We will also speed up service delivery to ensure that municipalities do not run out of water, like we did in the Western Cape, where Day Zero was avoided.
  • We will also ensure that our borders are secure, so that criminals cannot stream into this province selling drugs and stolen weapons.
  • We will also take strong action to root out corruption and maladministration

If we are going to create a province of rising opportunity for all, then we need to break down the barriers that separate the insiders from the outsiders. We need to build one province for all the people, where the people of this province will feel that they are at home. A place where they have a future and want to remain here.

The Democratic Alliance has a rescue plan for the broken Eastern Cape. We will fix this broken province and put it on the high road to prosperity.