Madame Speaker, leading up to Monday the 23rd of February, the people of Gauteng waited in anticipation for the Premier’s SOPA address, with the hope that his would be a message of hope. Though he spoke of the quest to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights, by and large his address failed to inspire. His address was an ambitious agenda for economic and spatial development, without any clear implementation timelines and or deadlines.
Honourable Premier, the phrase “Tell no lies and claim no easy victories” is often used in this house. Your speech writers had indeed, given you a script full of spin and riddled with false claims of innovation by your administration. You spoke of spacial reconfiguration and massive infrastructure investments as part of making macro interventions, as though these are new initiatives, when in reality they are projects dating back 10 to 15 years
You mention the Five Economic hubs, which you call corridors, as if they are a new development, when in fact they are historic building blocks of the Gauteng economy. I had learned about these economic Hubs and the advantages of comparative advantage derived from such clustering of industries, at primary school. And that was a good few decades ago. Likewise, most of the “new cities such as the Waterfall Estate, is not a new idea. Similarly, the Aerotropolis is a 12 year old initiative. Many Councillor’s and officials from the Ekurhuleni Metro have been on numerous overseas trips, over the years, spending millions of rand; tax payers money that could have been put to better use, on so called study tours and consultations with experts, to get ideas on how to develop this Aerotropolis. It is not as your address would like to portray it; a new development. Similarly the Tshwane Convention Centre has long been in the planning stages. There had been no less than 4 soil turning ceremonies held to launch this development. Claiming that these developments are new initiatives is nothing but spin doctoring. Spin, to give the impression of radical transformation. Remember the phrase “tell no lies and claim no easy victories.”
Madam Speaker, the Honourable Premier indicated that his administration had consulted extensively with local governments and that land owned by government will be used to prioritize development. The DID does not as yet have a complete land asset register. The Tshwane Metropolitan Council had recently sold land to the value of R 500 000 in order to balance its books. This Metro, like many others in the Province is on the brink of bankruptcy. Local government remains the coalface of government’s service delivery agenda.
It is where the political will to do, or not to do, have the most direct impact on the day-to-day lives of our people.
This administration needs to pay heed to the cries of our people living in municipalities around the province; our people who are in a daily struggle for water, electricity and decent housing.
Corruption runs rampant, the law is openly flouted, wrongdoers are protected and communities’ service delivery needs are disregarded.
It is the poorest of the poor who bear the brunt of maladministration and malaise – waiting, and in some instances dying, before their basic human rights are met.
The proposed introduction of new metropolitan municipalities is neither feasible nor will it be conducive to the residents living there as centralisation is not the master stroke to cure all ills.
These ills are apparent in the metros such as Ekurhuleni, where communities are only serviced when the premier comes to visit; or Johannesburg, where financial management and billing is a shambles; and Tshwane, where government contracts are reserved for the mayor’s extended family and comrades.
Local government is slowly reaching boiling point, as communities are increasingly resorting to violent protests as a means to an end. Corrupt officials in the employ of government must be dealt with sternly. Corruption robs our people of much needed services and prospects of a decent life.
The contentious tolling system of Gauteng’s freeways has been a thorn in the side of Premier Makhura since he took office.
In the review panel’s final report it became abundantly clear that e-tolls were forced onto the citizens of Gauteng with limited consultation, and that their unilateral implementation harms the poor, the working class, and the provincial economy.
The people of this province have on numerous occasions and on numerous platforms said that e-tolls must go, yet the premier and the ANC refused to recommend they be scrapped. This is evident in the Finance Minister’s speech yesterday.
Only one solution remains, and that is for the premier to announce a provincial referendum on the future of e-tolls. No hybrid system of toll collection is acceptable to the people of Gauteng.
The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) is a department that shows neither fear nor favour when it comes to thwarting service delivery. It continuously overspends, underachieves and shifts blame – and the premier needs to tackle this department head-on.
Government departments’ service delivery programmes are undermined by DID’s incompetence, and the province will not unlock growth and development unless this department fires on all cylinders.
There will be no growth without infrastructure.
- While the moves for own power generation and green initiatives (solar) are noble, the use of old coal power stations are not moves made by a government serious about green alternatives.
- Independent power producers should supplement the power grid – taking the strain off an already burdened coal and diesel sector.
- The Provincial Infrastructure Coordination Commission (PICC) will remain a talk shop as long as nothing is done to address the incompetence meted out by the Provincial Department of Infrastructure.
- Departments should be responsible for own maintenance and infrastructure.
- The Sedebeng Sewerage works project is far from being completed. We are aware of a good number of business investment projects, with the potential to create thousands of sustainable jobs, being denied, as the much needed bulk sewerage infrastructure is not available to service the additional load of human excrement that workers at these businesses will produce. (Afrikaans saying DAAR IS A DROL IN DIE DRINK WATER)…
From his address it is clear that health and the well-being of residents of this province remains a major priority for Premier Makhura. He however needs to re-establish public confidence in government health facilities.
Too often do stories of malpractice, medical shortages, long queues and ailing health infrastructure hit the headlines, with very little or no reassurance that this administration is serious about caring for the needs of the people.
As a starting point, the premier should announce the decentralisation of procurement to hospital CEOs. By doing so, bureaucratic red tape that often hinders critical care will be minimised – improving the quality of healthcare to residents of the province.
Coupled with this, the responsibility of maintenance and repair should be removed from the ambit of DID and be done in-house. This will alleviate the backlog in infrastructure projects and increase maintenance turnaround time. The mentioned E-Health system was a promise made in this very House almost 10 years ago. The question is “When will it finally come online”?
While Gauteng may be the economic heartbeat of South Africa, its pulse is rapidly fading. The Premier brags about the fact that the province’s economy grew above the national average, by 2.2% in 2013, while the NDP sets an annual growth target of 5%, which is 2.7% less than the target. And this bad performance is somehow acknowledged as an achievement. Indeed it is true that in the land of the blind one eye is king.
Innovative and incentive based approaches are needed to increase employment and economic growth.
It cannot be business as usual while the people of this province are crying out for the right conditions to steer the ship of Gauteng into less stormy waters, and the premier failed to announce a definitive policy direction to loosen the economic shackles of cumbersome, bureaucratic red tape and plagued by corruption,. The Finance Minister yesterday announced that no less than R30 billion is stolen from the Countries covers and crime Watch had recently pointed out that Gauteng is leading on the corruption bandwagon.
By simplifying processes such as registration and regulation – business will flourish: Particularly SMME’s and those individuals trying to eke out a living in the province’s townships.
Special Economic Zones and Innovation Hubs in our township economies will go a long way in bringing informal businesses into the formal economy, while at the same time improve skills and increasing the provincial revenue base.
- Central corridor (JHB) not an industrial centre – the high crime rate has forced the private sector out or forced it to take own initiatives to remain safe.
- The new mega-cities mentioned are all private sector initiatives – the Premier cannot claim success for the free market initiative.
- We need red tape reduction, freer markets, and viable centres of trade
- Madam Speaker the Premier has promised to build no less than a total of 680 000 housing units within the next 4 years of the remainder of this term of office. Though I would like to believe that his intentions are genuine, this is an over ambitious target as historical evidence indicates that the province and local government together has on average built 30 000 RDP units per annum. This is a government owned project that if properly managed, can potentially offer not only employment opportunities, but the development of skills employed in the construction industry. Skills such as bricklaying, plastering, carpentry, plumbing and electrical wiring can be taught to unskilled workers, while delivering on the housing needs of our people. The building of sustainable communities does not only involve the building of houses. What is glaringly missing in this announcement is the building of schools, clinics, libraries and other recreational facilities needed in Proper Township planning. If these facilities are not provided, then Hon. Premier, your government will be perpetuating the former apartheid housing development schemes.
- The premier mentioned the sorry state of Alexander and Kliptown. Both had been Presidential Projects, yet more than 15 years later, little has changed for the majority of our people. Instead of providing sustainable decent housing projects, these areas are fast becoming slums. Our people deserve much better.
As migration into Gauteng continues in search of a better life, the demand for education in our ever-expanding communities remains a priority.
Failing infrastructure, overcrowding, and a lack of sanitation, electricity and water; coupled by the limited number of state schools – are all factors that harm quality education.
It is imperative that these issues are dealt with in a timeous manner to ensure that Gauteng provides quality basic education to all learners.
If not, the province will suffer an educational disconnect.
Madame Speaker very little was said about how the Provincial Government will be tackling the unacceptable high levels of crime in the Province. When it comes to the issue of drugs, prevention is better than cure. Proper and effective policing by the re-establishment of the specialised drug combatting unit which would lead to a higher arrest and conviction rate of drug dealers will assist in this regard.
In conclusion Madame Speaker, my advice to the Honourable Premier, is that he should deal with basics first. Sort out and deal with corruption in your provincial and local governments as a matter of urgency. The former Premier with the nickname of Mama Action also made promises that she would eradicate corruption in her administration and yet little if any progress was made in this regard. By the end of her term of office she was renamed as the Queen of empty Promises. Honourable Premier your announcement of the establishment of the Integrity Management and Anti-Corruption Unit must not be an empty promise. We want to see a concerted effort aimed at arresting and imprisonment of corrupt officials and public representatives alike. Otherwise you could consider yourself a servant of the people and at the end of your term be known as THE DOCTOR OF SPIN.
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