M von Buchenroder Speech Notes: Debate on the 2021 State of the Province Address

Issued by Marshall von Buchenroder, MPL

Honourable Speaker, it will be amiss of me if I do not quote the Hon. Premier verbatim when he said, “We solicited the views of the citizens of our province. We involve them because the work we’re about to do in this term is to improve their lives.”
Hon Speaker, I must ask, whose lives are the Premier referring to? Is it ANC deployed cadres? Because from where I am standing, it is definitely not the lives of ordinary citizens in this province.
Just last week, the Hon. Minister Nathi Mthetwa deviously gazetted some silly name changes within the Eastern Cape Province. If the Premier was truly listening to the people of this province, he would know that now is not the time for frivolous name changes!
If he was truly listening to the people of the province, why were 26 000 signatories of a petition against the name change counted as one objection?
Madam Speaker, if the Premier was truly listening to the people, he would know they do not want name changes. They want jobs.
Madam Speaker, the Premier commits himself to serve the people, but how can he serve them if he doesn’t know what they want? I’m afraid to say that his entire executive is out of touch with the needs of the people of this province.
Road Infrastructure.
Not far from the Legislature is a town called Fort Beaufort, which is surrounded by citrus farms. A provincial road provides key access to the Upper Kat river region.
I call it a road, Madam Speaker, but it is a mud bath.
Over 90% of the farmers who rely on this road are emerging black commercial citrus farmers. The citrus season is starting in less than a month, but they cannot get their product to market because the trucks cannot get through!
Farmers cannot even get to their homes for days on end!
So out of touch is this executive that the MEC for Transport responded to a parliamentary question and said this road is in good condition! If this is a good road Madam Speaker, I would hate to see what the MEC thinks is a bad one.
Harvested citrus sits and rots in warehouses, and farmers are facing bankruptcy, because of the MEC’s GOOD ROAD!
The Hon. Premier says government is prioritising the road infrastructure to our tourism destinations.
Madam Speaker, this same river of mud leads to the state-owned Mpofu Game Reserve, so perhaps they can prioritise this road, and save our farmers in the process.
Speaking of the Hon MEC of Transport Madam Speaker, what is the Premier doing regarding the numerous allegations of wrongdoing that have been levelled against her?
It has now been eight months since he called for an investigation, and he has confirmed that he has the preliminary report.
Madam Speaker, the Hon Premier has committed himself to deal swiftly with corruption, and I commend him for taking action against the former MEC of Health, but I have to ask… How much longer are the people of this province going to have to wait before he takes action against the delinquent MEC of Transport?
The Premier must build his government on the rock of good governance before he drowns in the quicksands of corruption.
Madam Speaker, the Premier mentioned the rising number of truck hijackings, but failed to say what is being done to address this. This is a real concern, as these trucks are the lifeblood of the province’s economy.
Hard-hit businesses simply do not have the spare capital to hire security companies to accompany their trucks.
If the Premier is listening to the people, what is he doing to keep them safe, Madam Speaker? He is right in saying that crime statistics have shown a downward trend, but between October and December last year, on average, 13 people have been murdered every day.
Madam Speaker, I ask again, which people is the Premier listening to? Is it the people across the length and breadth of this province that are crying out for decent roads?
If the Premier is serious about improving the lives of people of our province, then he should fix the roads, like the forward-thinking municipality DA-Led Kouga Municipality, which has allocated R30 million towards the re-surfacing of roads.
Kouga municipality has fixed 30 000 potholes!
In Nelson Mandela Bay, the new coalition of good governance, under the leadership of DA councillor Nqaba Bhanga, has declared war on failing road infrastructure!
Madam Speaker, I am ashamed to say that it appears the ANC-led municipalities have declared war on the roads themselves.
Madam Speaker, the Premier speaks of transporting 103,000 learners of the 125 000 that need assistance in getting to school. But the Department of Transport has only made provision for 87 000 and these numbers are being cut.
The Premier mentioned savings made on scholar transport due to Covid-19. Iphi imali oyongayo uthetha ngayo?
On 9 February 2021 instruction note 56 went out with a clear instruction that the current 87 000 needy scholar transport learners must be reduced by 30% because “ayiko i-mali”.
Madam Speaker, imali iphelile. Perhaps because it has all been spent on Bed and Breakfasts for officials.

Meanwhile, only 60 900 learners actually stand to benefit from scholar transport this year. More than 63 100 learners will be abandoned by this failing ANC government.

Madam Speaker, we build state of the art schools, like the one in Cookhouse, but when we visited, teachers are waiting in vain for learners who cannot get there because they don’t have transport.

In Alexandria, there are children attending Ulzhonyo Senior Secondary School, that have to walk up to 130km a week, to get an education. These children are told, ayiko imali. Because it has been spent on catering for cadres.

Madam Speaker, the Premier and his government are dismally failing our children and robbing them of an education and a better future.

The failing ANC government must stop throwing our children for the wolves.

I encourage the Premier to consider moving the function of scholar transport back to the department of education.

Madam Speaker, the DA is listening to the people. We can rebuild the EC upon the rock of good governance and get it back on track, because where the DA governs SA works!

I thank you