Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
The following address was delivered by Anthony Benadie to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, in Hluvukani (Bushbuckridge) on the occasion of “Taking the Legislature to the People”, closing debate.
Allow me to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Bushbuckridge for welcoming the Legislature into their community, for their hospitality, for participating in our meetings and attending our events. For many community members this has been their first experience of our parliament, their first contact with their political leaders, and the way we know the ANC, probably their last until the next election – when undoubtedly the food parcels accompanied by empty promises will again be in abundance.
However, be assured that the DA takes your issues serious. Our councillors – locally and at a district level, as well as the Hon Masango and I will not waiver in our duty to monitor and oversee the value and impact of this legislature outreach and the contribution it makes to the people of Bushbuckridge.
While the concept of Taking Legislature to the People is indeed a noble one, and the experience of interacting with communities of our province priceless, I firmly believe that some honest introspection on the effectiveness of this programme is required.
In the past, the Legislature conducted this programme in Msukaligwa, Dr JS Moroka, Mkhondo, Lekwa, and Thaba Chweu municipalities, yet nothing has significantly changed in those communities. The challenges we observed then, are still the challenges experienced now, and it would serve us and the communities we visit well, if this programme was focussed more on the real desire to improve the living conditions of people, and less on the self-praise and gratification which the ANC so abundantly bestow upon themselves.
The challenges facing the people of Bushbuckridge is severe. We have witnessed the scourge of unemployment, we have seen the conditions of poverty, the collapsed state of health facilities, schools in a state of disrepair and damaged by storms in 2009, yet never repaired, crime is a daily occurrence, clean uninterrupted water supply is a rare luxury and several basic services are not delivered by an almost dysfunctional municipality – in short every-day life in Bushbuckridge is a battle for survival.
Let me hasten to say and acknowledge that many of the challenges facing the Bushbuckridge community today, are a direct consequence and a legacy of South Africa’s unequal past.
Throughout this week, the ANC has again been obsessed with its divisive racial rhetoric, while showering itself with praise, yet offering little hope or solutions to the challenges faced by this community.
The ANC cannot continue diagnosing challenges, as a spectator on the side lines of government failures. The ANC can no longer pretend as if it got into government yesterday and must acknowledge the past 18 years of missed opportunities.
While we must forever honour our past and learn from it, the focus of our lives must not primarily be where we come from, but rather where we are going.
For us to effectively turn Bushbuckridge from a rural state of hopelessness to a thriving centre of opportunity, we must reconcile relationships between South Africans by uniting our nation, we must actively redress our past through creating job opportunities, we must embrace the diversity of our people in the spirit of Nelson Mandela and we must put in place a government that is obsessed with putting people first and delivering services.
Too many young people in Bushbuckridge are unemployed. We must institute initiatives like the Youth Wage Subsidy to stimulate economic growth and create jobs.
Bushbuckridge must become a community of workers, a developer of individual talent and a centre of opportunity. We need to attract quality teachers by paying scarce skills allowances and we need to increase our matric pass rate. We need to invest massively in infrastructure development and we need to attract more investment.
We simply need to eradicate corruption and self-indulgence and put the interest of the community at the core of government business.
One of the greatest assets in Bushbuckridge is land. I firmly believe that we need to seriously review the concept and practice of communal land which renders so many residents vulnerable. We must give residents title deeds of the land on which they live, giving them security to raise capital to kick-start their own economic investment and opportunity.
Bushbuckridge is alive with possibility and has endless opportunity. There can be no reason why the challenges of this community cannot be overcome. There is nothing wrong in Bushbuckridge that cannot be fixed by that which is right in Bushbuckridge. We have witnessed the entrepreneurial spirit on every street, on every corner – the people of Bushbuckridge are ready to work and deserve the opportunity to do so, all they need is a supportive government, a caring government.
In fact all they need is a DA government.