Speech Notes: Vote 10 – Transport Annual & Half Year Financial Oversight Reports

Issued by Marshall von Buchenroder, MPL
Shadow MEC for Transport

I would like to greet one and all, in the wonderful name of our saviour, lord Jesus Christ.

It would be amiss of me if I do not extend my seasonal greetings to all present. Compliments of the new year. I would like to wish you a prosperous and a blessed year ahead. May 2021 be a better year than 2020.

Madam Speaker, the Department has, once again, received a qualified audit opinion with matters of emphasis on non-compliance. This is a recurring finding for years within the department. Only under a capable, caring government will consequent management be implemented without any fear or favour.

It is clear that this is not the case under the careless current government. Let me re-iterate, only under a capable and caring government like the DA, will we not allow fruitless and wasteful expenditure to the tune of R6,353 million.

Honourable Speaker, please wait, irregular expenditure for the Department to the tune of R2,123 billion, let me read it again, R2,123 billion in irregular expenditure.

Section 38(1)(d) of the PFMA is being grossly flouted, to say the least. Under the current climate that we find ourselves in this money could have been used to create a life of value for the residents of this province.

One needs to cut the fat and end cadre deployment as a matter of urgency.

I would like to remind my fellow members of the ruling party that this is not a good story to be told. Furthermore, the bad story is continuing within this Department, just wait.

A construction grader to the value of R1 508 220 was stolen from a yard. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that this is a grader, not a bicycle, motorcycle or even a motor vehicle. It is a big, massive machine, painted bright yellow, and it was stolen. In Afrikaans se hulle “en dit verdwyn soos mis voor die son.”

Weg, gone, nowhere to be seen.

This is mind boggling, to say the least. Were the province under a capable caring government, like the DA, a full investigation would have been the order of the day. Furthermore, the recommendations of that investigation would have been implemented, without any fear or favour, to stop the looting of government assets.

Stop the looting! It must stop now!

The current vacancy rate has increased from 7,15% in 2018/2019 to 12,60% in 2019/2020, if one puts it into funded vacant posts, it equates to 387 vacancies. Yet no warm body, no production, or service rendered.
A capable government, and a caring province, would ensure that these vacancies are timeously filled to create a life of value.

Under program 2, under expenditure to the tune of R 57,237 million occurred. This program’s core business is the planning, design, construction and maintenance of all our provincial roads.

Allow me to give you the true reflection on the current status of the road network in the province, be it tar roads, gravel roads or mud baths, our road network is in an appalling state, and yet the Department is underspending.

This action deprives people from opportunity. Farmers cannot get their produce to market, residents are deprived of freedom of movement and worse, deprived of life-giving access to emergency services!

Our economy is taking the brunt of this underspending.

Madam Speaker, under a capable and caring DA-Led Kouga Municipality, we have implemented a motion that was tabled here by my colleague Vicky Knoetze, and have constructed Africa’s first plastic road.

I remind this house that this is the same motion that was shot down by the ANC. Where the ANC fails, the DA delivers. Plastic roads divert tonnes of plastic waste from landfills that end up in our oceans, are more durable, require less maintenance and have longer lifespans, meaning we save money in the long run. Not only that, the plastic waste reclamation aspect, to supply in the construction, could create thousands of additional jobs.

Only under a capable DA government that actually cares for this province, would the total budget allocation be used, and every cent spent be accounted for, to create a proper road network.

Because the DA understands that this will enhance the lives of ordinary citizens, and create a life of value.

Farmers would not have to worry about getting their products to market, residents could move about freely, and life-giving emergency services would be able to get to where they are needed.

This would be a good story.

There is a saying “desperate times calls for desperate measures.”

Not too far from here, there is a road in the Fort Beufort area, which leads to a state-owned nature reserve called Mpofu Nature Reserve.

I call it a road, only because that is the designation it is given by the Department. It is nothing more than a mud bath! A river of mud that is untraversable, unless you have a 4×4 vehicle with high ground clearance and suitable tyres.

Madam Speaker, according the Hon. MEC, in response a parliamentary question I posed to her, this road is in good condition. It is well maintained and in good standard for road users.

I have personally been to this road, and I can confirm that this is not the state of affairs.

Madam Speaker, it is perhaps no wonder that the roads are in the state they are in, if the MEC thinks a river of mud is a well-maintained road in good condition.

Perhaps that is why the Department has underspent to the tune of R57 million in the last financial year?

Let me assure you, our roads are not in a good condition Madam Speaker. A capable state would know this. A capable state would be fixing this and building infrastructure that will improve access to markets and tourism.

Madam Speaker, on a different note, the recurring finding of municipalities not paying the money they collect on behalf of the Department is of great concern, but nothing is done. Year in and year out the Department is hopeful that the current status quo would improve.

Do I need to remind you on what Einstein said “doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same result is called madness”

One needs a capable state to deal with this complex issue. Naming and shaming these non-compliant municipalities must be the order of the day. Cutting out cadre deployment and implementing proper consequent management should happen without any fear or favour.

Honourable Speaker, the cherry on the cake of this Annual Report, is the cost of travel and subsistence allowance.

It has shot up nearly 25%, from R69,4 million to R86,6 million. Need I remind the house that this is the same Department, where the MEC stands accused of having staff members of the Department booked into a guest house owned by her daughter?

Eight months ago I moved a motion to, amongst others, have these allegations investigated , but was advised in the meeting to withdraw the motion because it was overtaken by sequence of events. I was informed that the Hon. Premier has commissioned an investigation, and that was the core reason why I withdrew my motion.

How long does the Premier need to finalise his investigation, Madam Speaker? To date there has been little or no action from the Hon. Premier.

Hulle se in Afrikaans “so stil soos n kerk muis”.

The Hon. Premier has confirmed that a preliminary report is sitting in his office. This begs the question Hon. Premier, why are you not taking action if needs be?

Or should I rather ask “who are you protecting and why”?

Is the party again bigger than the people of this province?

If my memory serves me correctly, not so long ago the Hon. Premier said he will stamp out corruption. Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words.

Stop the cadre deployment.
This investigation cannot be swept under the carpet. A capable, caring government would deal with this matter as a matter of urgency, ensure that the matter is finalised, that any doubt is removed and that if there have been transgressions, that the appropriate consequences are enforced.

That would be the actions of a capable and caring government. But we do not seem to have a capable and caring government here.

In conclusion, Madam Speaker, to the Hon. Premier I want to say, “don’t carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as steppingstones to rise above them”.

Step up Hon. Premier a