Mr Premier, in the week of your birthday, I believe that we should all give you a gift. I also believe that that the members on this side of the House have done just that. Happy birthday, Mr Premier – your gift is some solid advice and critique of your government, its plans and its performance since your last State of the Province address.
I reiterate what I said last year. I want to believe that the Premier will be successful in carrying out his objectives. It would refreshing to praise and not criticise.
But I am less enthused than I was last year and I wonder whether the successor in title to our previous Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane, will also be the successor in sentiment. Are we going to have a huge number of promises annually and very little action?
We commend you for highlighting the economy as a primary issue in getting this province into its rightful place but wonder whether you have the right people around you to do it. For instance you “announced” the aerotropolis in Ekurhuleni which is actually a programme initiated in 2010 as if it was the “fix-all” for your eastern corridor. In the last five years, as my colleagues have told you, it has been a drain on the Ekurhuleni budget and the excuse for international travel for the ANC mayor and his mayoral committee.
Do you have the right people around you Mr Premier? Is the Mayor of Ekurhuleni, or the mayors of the other councils, the right people to realise your dream, and may I add our dream too, to “transform, modernise and re-industrialise this beautiful and resilient province”
Any economic revival would require a dedicated, knowledgeable and transparent MEC too. I’m sure you would agree. You also call for an “accountable, responsive, transparent and clean government”. That same MEC, charged with economic development, resorted to personally abusive and racial statements in a Public Accounts hearing because he was being held accountable, asked to be responsive and transparent and to demonstrate that we have a clean government.
Do you have the right people around you Mr Premier?
In order to have an accountable, responsive, transparent and clean government, another aspiration which this side of the House shares with you, you need Heads of Departments who are willing to acknowledge flaws and initiate firm action to mitigate weaknesses. The HOD of Community Safety submitted vague, obscure and in some instances, inaccurate responses, to SCOPA in last week’s Public Accounts hearing. I would add that the responses were signed off by the MEC.
Do you have the right people around you, Mr Premier?
Annually, SCOPA makes recommendations to this House on how to make the Provincial Government accountable, responsive, transparent and clean. In the 11 years I have served here, all these recommendations have been adopted and become House resolutions. I could give you an incredibly long list of resolutions of this House which have been ignored or only partially complied with. Most of the guilty MECs and senior officials remain in positions of extreme responsibility regardless of their contempt of the House.
Do you have the right people around you, Mr Premier?
My colleague, Dr Neil Campbell referred to the poor use of our traffic police who, in his words, “seem only able to man speed taps, solicit bribes and gridlock the cities by amateurish point duty such as happened on Monday”. Are you aware that police and security personnel refused passage way to this building to at least 3 opposition MPLs to hear the State of the Province. I personally was told, by a self-confessed ANC supporting officer, that I may not access the area because I was not an ANC member.
I repeat, Mr. Premier, do you have the right people around you?
I reiterate the comments of my colleagues. There has to be a referendum on the public attitude to e-tolls and you must fulfil your promise to stand by the wishes of Gauteng citizens in rejecting e-tolls unconditionally. Mr Premier, you took a bold stand on the matter nine months ago and we appreciate that there are many around you in your party that disagree, but you are the Premier of Gauteng and Gauteng demands action.
You need the right people around you, right here in Gauteng, to oppose, with the same strength you demonstrated last year, Sanral, the National Department of Roads and Transport and the ANC outside of this province who seem determined to subject our province to e-tolls.
Yesterday the Minister of Finance referred to the government’s habit of not paying suppliers within 30 days as stipulated by the PFMA. He said that departments’ timeous payment of accounts would be a factor considered when renewing the contracts of Accounting Officers as well as assessing their performance.
In Gauteng this is a huge problem, with the Departments of Education and Health being significant offenders. You may have noticed the drop in unauthorized expenditure last year but have you compared it to the accruals in excess of 30 days? Mr. Premier, Departments in Gauteng, have, in my considered opinion, breached the PFMA by neglecting to pay suppliers in order to avoid unauthorized expenditure. This has a knock on effect on the ability to deliver services in this financial year.
I would also add Mr. Premier, that your office still owes money to the Department of Community Safety since the 2014 financial year. We are now almost at the end of the 2015 financial year.
Mr. Premier, will you and your MECs have the power of your convictions to penalize Accounting Officers by not renewing their contracts if they do not ensure that suppliers are paid within 30 days? Mr. Premier, do you have the right people around you to take on this task?
There is another quote from your speech which I would like to align myself to. You said “drugs and alcohol abuse remains a major problem in our communities”. I couldn’t agree more. I ask you then, can you imagine the frustration of the police in Springs when an alleged drug dealer is apprehended, just this month, with drugs to the value of R1 000 000 and is granted bail of R500. Where is the justice in that? You say that you will “intensify the implementation of our comprehensive response”. All the treatment centres and one-stop centres in the province will be swimming against the tide if the supply of drugs goes unabated.
Mr. Premier, do you have the right people around you to deal with this problem?
Mr. Premier, I recommend that you look to your right, look behind you, look at the MECs and consider all the promises you made on Monday, all the dreams you shared, all the plans you have made, all the strategies you implemented and ask yourself, “is the team I have around me, the right one to make these aspirations a reality?”
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