SPEECH NOTES: DEBATE ON THE STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS
By Nomvano Zibonda, MPL
3 March 2021
Greetings to the Hon Speaker, Hon. Premier, members of the legislature, staff and the members of the public.
Last week, as the people of this province, we were let down. We were let down by a Premier who seems out of touch with the issues faced by farmers of this province.
A Premier who puts his party first, not us, the people of this province. If he did put us first, he would be spending state funds on providing an enabling environment for farmers to thrive. He would be building decent access roads and bulk water infrastructure.
Instead, the Premier seems to want government to farm.
Hon Speaker, before the Premier starts looking for farm equipment, perhaps he should first look at the conditions our farmers have had to endure, such as the prolonged drought that has had the Western half of this province firmly in its grip for the past six years.
The Premier was silent about this disaster that is affecting so many farmers. To me that indicates that he is out of touch with the issues of our farmers.
On which planet do you live Hon Premier?
Because everyone who lives on planet Earth should know the crisis of climate change. If fact, this government was given a comprehensive report years ago, that set out exactly how the climate was changing and the impact it would have on the province, but it did nothing.
Your government Honourable Premier has failed to put together a coordinated team from different departments such as COGTA and DRDAR, to ensure that the necessary support is provided to farmers and to mitigate the impact of the drought, and make strategic interventions to augment water supplies.
DRDAR has made no financial support available to farmers for drought mitigation.
To add insult to injury, they have grossly underspent their farmer settlement development and food security budget as reflected by the 2020/21 midyear financials.
The same Department is spending approximately half a million drilling a borehole and one hundred thousand rands scooping a dam, far more than what it would cost on the open market!
Boreholes have become the cash cow for connected cadres, otherwise how would you explain such exorbitant amounts?
Honourable Speaker, in preparing for this response, I also took the time to go back to last year’s SOPA.
In it the Premier spoke highly of the potential of cannabis production for the province. This year he is saying the same things, but there has been no new developments, no significant progress.
The Premier is still pronouncing the same thing he pronounced last year, I don’t know if you heard what the Gauteng Premier said, uthi uready pha kwelaphondo lakhe to process cannabis.
That means the we will see the same thing, where farmers in the Eastern Cape grow the produce, but have to take it somewhere else for processing, kawuleza Premier okanye uyakuqabuka sekwaphulwe.
A study by Interpol in 2004 placed South Africa in fourth place amongst the largest producers of cannabis, with most of it being produced in the Eastern Cape.
South Africa could unlock a R107 billion cannabis industry if Government passes the necessary regulations to make it happen. We need to tap into this opportunity to change lives.
Hon Premier, we need to change the trajectory of the Eastern Cape away from a failed state.
We need to chart a new course away from a failed state to a caring a capable state.
When the committee visited Magwa tea estate last year, we found that the estate is not viable, not profitable and is under financial constraints.
The machinery is not sufficient, and this limits its production potential. There are still no secured agreements with the investors and Crop diversification has not yet been implemented.
How do you plan to fix this before you go on and invest more money in this project Honourable premier?
I do not believe you can go forward without uprooting these problems.
The production costs at Magwa tea are so high that it is being sold below production costs, just to move it.
This means we are losing money, we are producing tea at R102 per kilogram when the market price for tea is around R40 a kilogram.
Premier, we cannot keep throwing away money on a failed project. Your government are not tea farmers, Mr Premier, nor should they be.
A capable government would have spent the funds on providing an enabling environment for private entities to thrive, such as creating decent roads networks to get produce to markets, water infrastructure so that they can run their farms as viable businesses and create sustainable jobs.
The DA would not invest in a failing project, instead it would direct resources to viable and sustainable projects that eradicate poverty and uplift communities.
I thank you.