Speech notes: Bobby Stevenson 6th Legislation 2019 SOPA debate

Bobby Stevenson

Your speech Hounorable Premier, differs sharply from that of your predecessors in that there are whispers of futuristic thinking in it. However, what it lacks is the necessary game changers to rebuild this province. 

Your reference to Chief Albert Luthuli and the Cross reminded me of the biblical injunction to build your house upon a rock and also of his words in 1963, in relation to my former colleague Helen Suzman, who he praised for her stance against apartheid saying posterity would hold her in high esteem, and so it does!

You cannot rebuild the province on the quicksand of poor governance. You need to get rid of the rot!

The ANC is tied up in an ideological straight jacket and cannot break out of its outmoded thinking, and this is resulting in the crippling of our economy, where we have the highest the unemployment rate in South Africa as outlined by the Honourable Cassim. In the last quarter the country as a whole experienced a negative GDP growth of -3, 2% on the back of 0, 8% growth for 2018.

What are you going to do differently Honorable Premier?

Unless the ANC has its own Berlin wall moment and embraces real economic change, our economy will continue to collapse and our cash dry up.

The government at national level needs to start with the privatization of State Enterprises such as Eskom and SAA. Do you want to support rich people flying or build houses for the poor? If independent power producers can supply power cheaper they should be allowed to so our economy can benefit.

With regard to your pledge on halving the unemployment rate by 2030, let me remind you the National Development Plan stated that 11 million jobs would be created by 2030.These are all pipe dreams without real economic reform that embraces more market friendly principles.

You referred to the establishment of an investment council. Let me remind you that we have many councils in this province most of which are disinvestment councils.

A study conducted by the Western Cape of International Investors which is incidentally home to 60% of SA top municipalities, found that investors listed the following ease of doing business, reduction of red tape, reliable basic services and world class infrastructure as key. On top of this one needs to add zero corruption and capable governance. Therefore the Western Cape has ten times as many clean audits as the Eastern Cape.

We need to get these basics right and rebuild our province upon a rock.  

Nationalistic rhetoric that weaponizes the economy and race to demonize, vilify and scapegoat minorities for current government failures are simply the politics of mass distraction.

You placed emphasis on youth entrepreneurship but one of the biggest obstacles as you mentioned is the payment of release fees, payment for contract documents and bribes. These are some of the factors impacting on youth entrepreneurship. We need to get rid of the rot and rebuild our province upon a rock.

With regard to education it would be wonderful if we can have a tablet for every learner but it needs to start with a teacher in every classroom. A recent IMF study showed that absenteeism is a huge problem with 20% of teachers being absent on a Friday or Monday, and 33% at month end. The teaching hours in certain schools averages 3, 5 hours a day per teacher and in former model C schools 6, 5 hours.

Unless you have competency testing for principals and allow an inspectorate into the classrooms, the poor state of education will continue in this province. Education is the foundation of opportunity.

The Honorably Cowley correctly pointed out that medicines must follow the people, not the people the medicines. This is what happens in the Western Cape. In Rwanda which has had a growth rate of over 7% since the early 2000’s, have drones that deliver medicine and blood to its rural communities.

Premier, you spoke of taming the wild coast. When I came over the hill from Coffee Bay and experienced the majestic beauty of the hole in the wall, I envisioned another Plettenberg Bay, Knysna or Cape St Francis.

There is only one obstacle to this, namely the need for land reform. In order for the wild coast to develop you need private ownership of land. Without security of tenure you will not realize its full potential. This could be a real game changer. When I was in China for the first time, years ago, I asked the professors who were talking to us how they brought about all these free market changes in a communist country. We experiment and if it works, we roll it out was the response.

Let me remind you of the words of the former President Deng Xiaoping, ’’It does not matter if the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice.”

Imagine a hotel constructed in the vicinity of the Hole in the Wall with a turnover clause that benefitted the local community in the form of schools, clinics and bursaries. If you allow private ownership of land you will leverage powerful economic forces that will uplift those communities. This is what real economic freedom is all about.   

The Eastern Cape is being subject to a bloody wave of violent crime that impacts horrifically on urban and rural communities alike. According to the last crime statistics, there is an average of more than 10 people being murdered every day in this province – 3815. The Eastern Cape has 5 of the top 30 stations in terms of murder in the country with Mthatha at 9th. The high rate of murder in Bethelsdorp, and attempted murder in Gelvandale and Bethelsdorp, highlights the huge problem of gangsterism in that area and the need for a professional, and specialized anti-gang unit. Children cannot be brought up in a nurturing environment while living in a warzone. Just last week a ten year old was shot in gangster crossfire.

It is not just in urban areas where crime is a huge issue, it is also in our rural areas as well. Stock theft is rife throughout this province and is destroying the livelihoods of emerging and established farmers, with 6217 reported cases in the 2017/18 financial year.

We then get to the issue of farm attacks in the Eastern Cape. Farm attacks are attacks on our farmers and farm workers. There have been a 50% increase in farm attacks in the Eastern Cape, when one compares the 2017/18 financial year with the 2016/17 financial year. This highlights the vulnerability of our rural communities, as well as the need for innovative law enforcement strategies to safe guard the rural heartlands of our province, and food security

There has not been a permanent head of Safety for 28 months. Without a permanent head, we will not make progress in fighting crime in our rural and urban areas. What the Eastern Cape needs, is change that ensures order prevails over chaos, and change that ensures safety and security prevails over anarchy.

Looking at the speech in isolation to the greater forces at work in our society, is akin to building sandcastles on the beach, and expecting them to withstand the incoming tide. This province needs urgent change but that requires getting rid of the rot so that the foundation is solid along with major policy shifts.

 The DA says, build your house upon the rock of good governance and the rest will follow.