R Odendaal Speech Notes: Debate on the 2021 State of the Province Address

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL

Speaker, when I was a child I really enjoyed fairytales. I can still remember the fictional stories about Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Snow White.

It seems the Honourable Premier also enjoys a good old fairy tale because, just last Tuesday, he stood before this House and told us a fictional tale about the Eastern Cape.

The Honourable Premier told us that all is well in his Kingdom, the Province of the Eastern Cape. He told us how his subjects could dream of a better tomorrow because his ANC-led government will grow our economy and deliver us from poverty. And we will all live happily ever after!

Well, Speaker, I don’t believe in fairy tales anymore. Neither do the long-suffering residents of the Eastern Cape. They know that the real-life story of the Eastern Cape today is no fairy tale. It is a horror story riddled with pain, poverty, broken promises and corruption.

The real-life horror story of the Eastern Cape begins with the failed state of local government over which this government presides.

No less than 14 local governments in this province have serious financial problems and, as a result, cannot deliver basic services to our people. Ten of those municipalities are bankrupt. That’s nearly a third of your municipalities, Honourable Premier.

Speaker, its time the Honourable Premier climbs down from his Ivory Tower and starts visiting our communities in these failed municipalities, so that he can experience first-hand in what utter squalor our people must live.

If South Africans want to see what a failed state looks like, they need to go no further than look at what your government has done to our rural municipalities in the Eastern Cape. These Municipalities look like war zones, destroyed by your municipal administrators’ incompetence, a legacy of cadre deployment in the Eastern Cape.

Broken sewers, broken water pipes, broken roads and broken dreams. This is the real-life horror story of people in the Eastern Cape. And this is only the beginning.

What about our bankrupt Health Department, that is unable to pay its creditors. Accruals are standing at an eye-watering R4 Billion in this Department.

Just this morning, on the front page of the Daily Despatch, there is an article on how this Department cannot pay its creditors.

Speaker, the Honourable Premier must remember that his problem with accruals started to get out of hand whilst he was the MEC for Finance in this province. In 2019 when he promised to arrest this problem, accruals were standing at R2 Billion, today it is nearly R4 Billion!

Speaker, the Western side of the province is dying of thirst because of a crippling 6-year drought that has decimated this region.

Naturally, not a word from the Hon Premier on this in his SOPA address, because he knows all too well his government has done nothing to assist farmers and struggling municipalities with the water crisis they are facing.

Talking about farmers, I nearly fell off my chair and choked on my tea Speaker when the Honourable Premier mentioned Magwa Tea Estate.

More fairytales. After all the countless broken promises of this government, to make this a viable operation.

Right now, Madam Speaker, we are harvesting tea leaves that are three times more expensive to grow than that grown by the private sector! Wake up and read the tea leaves, Honourable Premier, because if you think the ECRDA is going to get this project back on track, you are still dreaming.

Ons boer agteruit!

There are also many other failed projects in DRDAR where this government is bleeding money. Do you know that the same ECRDA is literally throwing money away by awarding unsecured loans to people? Loans for mahala!

In certain instances, the collection rate for these loans is zero. Nothing. Niks. Akhonto.

Speaker, the Honourable Premier says he is committed to ensuring the economy of the Eastern Cape grows again.

Yes, Hon Premier, we welcome your announcements regarding economic growth through investment in infrastructure, but how can we believe you?

Is this just more fairytales, given that your government spends less and less money on infrastructure every year. This year, we are spending a measly 5c in every provincial government Rand on infrastructure development.

That is all the schools, all the roads, all the clinics and all the hospitals. Oh, sorry, your government isn’t planning to build any new hospitals in your term, right, because you don’t have any money?

You can’t claim to have an infrastructure-led growth agenda, without investing in infrastructure.
Whilst spending 5c in every Rand on infrastructure, this ANC-led government is spending a whopping 67c in every Rand on Cost of Employment!

Where are you going to get money to build the infrastructure?

Speaker, the Hon Premier expects us to believe that he can put the economy of this province back on track, BUT CAN WE BELIEVE HIM?

We will have to see in the forthcoming budget because talk is cheap, but money buys the whiskey.

Speaker, enough of the negativity, there is some good news for the Premier and the ANC- your problems are bound to get less and less after the local government elections, when the DA will be governing a lot more municipalities in the Eastern Cape.

The DA will bring change to communities where the ANC has failed, just like we are currently doing in Kouga and Nelson Mandela Bay, where we are building our administrations on the rock of good governance to get us back on track.

The only happily ever after in your fairytale Premier, is the one where the DA governs.