Premier overlooks key promises made

Premier overlooks key promises made

Premier Oscar Mabuyane quickly glossed over some key promises he made to the people of the Eastern Cape during his previous State of the Province Addresses, while announcing no game changers.

While the Democratic Alliance acknowledges the importance of the motor industry that Premier Mabuyane highlighted, such as the significant investments from the automotive sector into the province, we are extremely concerned that the ports are not operating efficiently and key deliverables have been forgotten or ignored.

At the start of his term, Premier Mabuyane promised to halve the unemployment rate, which then stood at 37,4%. The latest unemployment stats, released on Tuesday, show unemployment is 41,7%, the highest in the country. The province’s unemployment is, in fact, 4.3% higher than at the beginning of his term.

In healthcare, we welcome the new facilities that have been made available, but there are insufficient staff to run them. Critical funded posts remain vacant across the province, as that funding is being ringfenced to pay off accruals that stand at over R4,5 billion.

The Premier also forgot to mention that in 2019, he had promised to improve the quality of healthcare services by increasing the number of facilities that achieved Ideal Clinic status from 56% to 80% by 2024. Perhaps this is because the Auditor General report from last year shows that the overall quality of our clinics has degraded, and only 25% achieved Ideal Clinic status in 2023.

We welcome the 24,000 houses that were built for people of this province over the past five years, but the Premier also failed to mention that in 2020, he promised that the government would build 52, 251 houses by 2024.

On crime, the Premier commended the arrest of 16,000 sexual offenders over the past five years, but failed to mention that over the same period, 41 557 sexual offence cases were opened in the eastern Cape. The 12,400 convictions mentioned are a success rate of less than 30% of the cases reported.

Premier Mabuyane has also failed to deal with the appalling state of the roads, which are negatively impacting economic growth and tourism. Roads are the lifeblood of the economy, as arteries are to the heart, and based on the current state of our roads, we are heading for an economic heart attack.

The damage to our provincial road network stems from inadequate maintenance over the years, mainly due to underfunding. Only R800 million was allocated to road maintenance for the 23/24 financial year, but R3.8 billion is needed annually.

He failed to address the collapse of local government. He failed to mention that our municipalities are in crisis, with 16 of the 39 in financial distress, and five municipalities under administration, which includes 50% of our District municipalities. Provincial interventions to date have amounted to nothing.

The Premier also failed to account for why he has not yet declared a state of disaster due to the high prevalence of child malnutrition in the Eastern Cape, as recommended by the SA Human Rights Commission after it revealed that children are dying of starvation.

The Premier’s SOPA delivered more of the same, failed to account for previous promises and failed to inspire hope for a better Eastern Cape. The province needs to be rescued from its current downward trajectory, and the DA stands ready to do just that.