Premier Helen Zille
DA Leader and Premier of the Western Cape
Over the past few weeks the ANC has been trying to create a narrative, which has been widely reported in the media, that “the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town do not deliver to the poor”.
At the same time, rival factions within the ANC are trying to “outbid” each other, in posing as the “authentic” voices of the poor. As its contribution to the advancement of the poor, the ANC Youth League is trying to make various provinces “ungovernable”, which involves destroying as many public facilities as they can.. It would be ironic if it were not so tragic.
Limpopo is a prime example. Last week the ANCYL mobilised school pupils, during school hours, to protest against the national government placing the bankrupt province under administration in terms of 100(1)(b) of the Constitution.
In a statement the ANCYL said: “The presence of the administrators in the province has now reached a point of intolerance and [the ANCYL] therefore wishes to declare that Limpopo province will be ungovernable for as long as administrators are still in the province.”
“We are determined to ensure that the people of Limpopo are not suffering because some people in the national Cabinet are threatened by the independent thinking of the Limpopo leadership, particularly towards [the] Mangaung conference of the ANC.”
The ANC’s warring factions are far more concerned about who wins at Mangaung (and who will, therefore, dispense patronage, tenders and contracts) than they are about serving the interests of the poor.
The “battle for Mangaung” has even reached remote parts of the Northern Cape, where ANC faction fights have kept 16,000 children out of schools for four months. Masquerading as “service delivery protests”, this infighting has ironically led to the disruption of services, the destruction of schools and libraries, the torching of homes and vehicles, and increased misery for the poor.
In the Eastern Cape, the ANC faction backed by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) is holding education to ransom. This has resulted in a R3.1 billion budget shortfall due to overspending on salaries (while under-spending on school infrastructure and learning resources). Some schools are grossly overstaffed (in one case 22 teachers serve just 55 pupils) while other schools are seriously under-staffed and are forced to hire “contract teachers”, resulting in a ballooning provincial salary bill. SADTU is defending teachers who refuse to be “re-assigned” – and no-one in the ANC dares to take on SADTU in the year of Mangaung.
As the ANC’s internal battles rage, 910 Eastern Cape public schools remain without water, 506 schools without sanitation and 678 schools without electricity. There was also a shortage of more than 12,000 classrooms and a severe lack of specialist facilities such as media centres and laboratories.
Even the ANC’s well-run province, Gauteng, is facing meltdown in key areas, such as the health department which has accumulated an unauthorised expenditure bill of approximately R4.7 billion between 2005/2006 and 2010/2011.
The high number of staff vacancies at hospitals and clinics and the shortage of critical medical equipment and medicine are due to the provincial department’s inability to pay suppliers of goods and services. It has even led to some National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) labs – the sole service provider contracted to deliver laboratory diagnostic tests, screening for chronic diseases including HIV and cervical cancer, and services for all public healthcare facilities – closing down for periods of time.
The above examples illustrate the irony of the ANC’s claims that the Western Cape Government doesn’t care about the poor.
The opposite is true. Our provincial plan and budget focus primarily on expanding opportunities to impoverished citizens and establishing the conditions for economic growth and job creation, the only sustainable pathway out of poverty.
An analysis of the four biggest departmental budgets in the Western Cape Government (which collectively account for an expenditure of R32.174-billion, which is 80% of the provincial budget) reflects the extent of redistribution to the poor.
The breakdown is as follows:
* Health directs R11.419 billion of its budget towards the poor, which is 78% of its total;
* Education spends R10.1 billion which is 71%;
* Human Settlements spends R 1.725 billion which is 90%;
* Social Development spends R 1.224 billion which is 87%.
Some of the interventions introduced by these departments include:
* Health: 80% of patients receiving treatment at Western Cape public hospitals receive free services or pay a nominal fee as they fall into an income bracket below R36 000 (single persons) or R50 000 (family units).
* Education: 80.2% (R610 million) allocated for textbooks, stationery, learner transport and feeding schemes goes to the poorest 60% of learners.
* R516.6 million is allocated to 673 “no fee” schools in the province. The DA government has significantly increased the number of “no fee” schools compared to the ANC administration.
* The Western Cape has also “top sliced” the number of teacher posts at the “least poor” public schools, in order to redistribute an additional R500 million more for teaching posts to the poorest schools.
* Human Settlements: The provincial department is currently running 12 different housing projects in the Cape metro area alone. Approximately 9,600 sites will be serviced and 15,000 housing units will be built across the province.
* Social Development: The department spends R406 million on subsidies for early childhood development (ECD) and child protection in poor communities.
* The Province funds 1,002 ECD centres across the province, 70 after school centres and 36 children homes.
* It also funds 126 old age homes and 226 service centres for older persons.
* There are also 31 homes for disabled people.
Some outcomes of our spending include the highest TB cure rate in the country (78.7%) and the reduction of mother-to-child HIV transmission from 17.6% in 2003 to 1.9% in 2011. We also halved the number of infant deaths due to diarrhoea between 2009/2010 and 2010/2011.
When it comes to education, the poorest schools in the province improved their pass rate from 57% in 2010 to 70% in the 2011 NSC examinations. The number of underperforming schools also decreased from 78 in 2010 to 30 in 2011. In Khayelitsha the average pass rate increased by 13.5% and the number of learners passing has increased by 24.9% since 2009.
The ANCYL has accused me of “lying” about the extent of redistribution in the Western Cape. They say if it were true, informal settlements would have been eradicated. This is another indication of their ignorance. At a conservative estimate it would cost R40 billion to allocate a basic housing subsidy to every family on the provincial waiting list – more than the ENTIRE provincial budget – (and this does not include the high cost of land in the Western Cape).
We could only achieve this if we scrapped every other budget in the province, closed all schools, hospitals and clinics, as well as facilities for the aged, destitute and disabled, all libraries and museums, allowed all roads and infrastructure to collapse, abandoned our support for rural development projects, and much more. This would certainly add momentum to the ANCYL’s “ungovernability” campaign.
If the ANCYL were serious about releasing more money for human settlements, they could assist us by promoting safe sex, the moderate use of alcohol, zero tolerance for drugs, smoking and violence and the promotion of healthy eating habits and exercise. Such changes in lifestyle choices would save billions on the Health budget, where over 50% is spent on preventable conditions. But the ANCYL would rather destroy infrastructure in the name of the poor.
Both the City and the Province recognise the fact that many people are currently living in dire circumstances. We also believe, on the basis of international experience, that our limited budgets are spent on policies and programmes that best equip people to take the pathway out of poverty within one generation.
The narrative the ANC is so desperately trying to spread merely exposes its true agenda.