KZN DA encouraged as Premier talks Youth Wage Subsidy pilot programme

George Mari, MPP

Member of the Democratic Alliance in the KZN Legislature

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal is greatly encouraged by KZN Premier, Zweli Mkhize’s intimation, during a sitting of the provincial legislature held yesterday, that he will consider the implementation of a Youth Wage Subsidy pilot programme in the province.

We fully support this move. It cannot come soon enough.

Despite government’s on-going promises of job creation, the rate of employment within KwaZulu-Natal has reduced during the past two years. The number of jobs created in the province dropped from 52 000 in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 43 000 in the first quarter of 2012. The rate of unemployment has subsequently grown from 19.3 percent to 20.5 percent.

This is having a devastating effect on our youth.

There is sufficient proof that a Youth Wage subsidy will work. The Western Cape has already run a highly successful pilot project and will roll out the initiative throughout the province in the next financial year.

The DA urges the Premier to make good on his word. This province must urgently investigate the benefits of a Youth Wage subsidy.

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Mpumalanga Legislature becoming irrelevant

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, under ANC rule, is fast becoming an expensive, yet irrelevant institution in the democratic order of our province. Not only is the ANC hell-bent on stifling debate and silencing the opposition within the sittings of the Legislature, but the institution itself as a pillar of democracy within this province is increasingly failing on its core mandate.

Apart from the statutory obligatory speeches and debates, such as the Premier’s State of the Province and the annual budget speeches, not a single debate aimed at changing the lives of Mpumalanga’s residents took place during 2012. While time and money is spent on debating each day of national significance, these rarely have a direct consequence on the lives of people. Even the multi-million rand “Taking Legislature to the People” programme has not resulted in a single improvement of the lives of the people visited during this programme.

Instead the ANC has turned the Legislature into an insignificant racial slurring fete and any attempt to debate serious issues such as the youth wage subsidy, land affairs, job creation and economic development, is met by the usual arrogant ANC racial rhetoric.

These are symptoms of an institution becoming dysfunctional. During the 2010/11 financial year the Legislature managed to obtain a clean audit report. However, in the latest 2011/12 Auditor-General report, the institution regressed, and received a qualified audit report.

This regress is attributed to the poor implementation of the SAP system and weak internal controls. In addition the Legislature underspent its budget by 8,9% as a large number of vacant posts were not filled, due to the moratorium imposed by the premier and his executive council. The Legislature has a 23.3% vacancy rate.

Furthermore, planned programmes were not met as set out in its Annual Performance Plan:

* Of the 12 planned Treasury meetings with the Speaker, only 4 were held;

* Only 19 of the 54 planned public educational workshops were conducted;

* A mere four of the 12 planned E-Petitions were conducted;

* Legislature failed to produce one half-yearly financial statement;

* No Employee Assistance Programme activities were conducted due to human resource constraints despite having available funds.

The Legislature has a constitutionally enshrined oversight and law making mandate. However, it becomes increasingly difficult for it to oversight provincial departments, when the institution doesn’t have its own house in order.

The DA firmly believes that Speaker William Lubisi must stand up in defence of our democratic beacon, and reduce external ANC interference in the management of the Legislature, insist on his independence as presiding officer and restore credibility and relevance to our Legislature.

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North West ANC violence becomes rampant

Chris Hattingh MPL

Democratic Alliance North West Province Provincial Leader

The North West Democratic Alliance is concerned about the increasing violence within the NW ANC and the effects on the NW communities.

The early morning attempt to murder NW ANC Secretary Kabelo Mateboge, when shots were fired at him in Mahikeng, is indicative of the high level of intolerance within NW ANC factions.

This follows a recent incident where an ANC member was stabbed in the neck with a broken bottle outside the Taung Magistrate’s Court on the 8th November where hundreds of ANC members, from the two NW ANC gathered at the court waiting for the appearance of a party member who had been arrested for shooting another member at an ANC meeting in the Magogong village.

The vicious NW ANC factional fighting, which has become endemic at both Provincial and Local Government levels, has nothing to do with policy or philosophy differences but everything to do with power and the control over financial resources.

It is clear that the NW ANC has become leaderless with the NW Premier, Thandi Modise, side-lined to the status of a mere spectator and that the leadership vacuum are being exploited by the different factions.

The desperate delivery crisis in the North West demands strong government which can only come from strong political leadership – until the ANC gets its NW house in order service delivery and clean governance will remain one of the biggest challenges facing the NW communities.

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Limpopo officials can’t answer for education failures

Dr Dion George MP

DA spokesperson on the Standing Committee on the Auditor General

Today, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) visited Limpopo to be briefed by the provincial departments of Public Works and Education on the financial mismanagement and procurement problems that contributed to the textbook crisis and other educational challenges in the province.

Provincial Public Works MEC Thabitha Mohlala and Education Head of Department Legodi Boshielo were unwilling or perhaps unable, to answer my questions on:

• What caused the collapse in province’s procurement processes?

• How the financial management system and planning system was allowed to reach a stage at which critical equipment, such as textbooks, could not be provided to schools?

• How tender irregularities contributed to a situation in which school buildings collapsed as a result of poor workmanship by Public Works contractors?

If the underlying causes of the Limpopo crisis are not addressed, the people of Limpopo are likely to see a repeat of the serious service delivery breakdowns experienced this year.

SCOPA members agreed that the Limpopo Departments of Education and Public Works must attend formal hearings at SCOPA early next year.

It is SCOPA’s mandate to ensure that the people’s money is managed properly and that public financial management systems are geared towards effective service delivery. It is therefore unacceptable that Limpopo officials could not provide the information that SCOPA needs to assess whether this is indeed happening.

We will use the 2013 hearings to demand answers.

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MM position to be re-advertised

Harold McGluwa, MPL

DA Northern Cape: DA Provincial Chairperson

The Democratic Alliance is satisfied that the vacant position of municipal manager (MM) of Siyathemba municipality in Prieska is to be re-advertised. This comes after the DA yesterday kicked up a fuss about the intended appointment of Patrick Lenyibi to this very senior post.

DA Siyathemba councillor, Gregory Mackay, attended a special council meeting this morning at which Lenyibi’s appointment to the post was scheduled to be ratified. Whilst Mackay was ready to vote against the appointment, he was pleasantly surprised that Lenyibi’s appointment, which was noted as point three on the Agenda, had been squashed. Mackay said Lenyibi’s name was not even mentioned in the council meeting and, instead, council committed itself to re-advertise the position and to find a suitable candidate for the post.

The DA yesterday vehemently opposed Lenyibi’s appointment as it is questionable whether Lenyibi possesses the required skills, competences and qualifications prescribed for the post. Lenyibi’s track record is also worrying, as he is one of a series of ANC role players responsible for the demise of the Sol Plaatje municipality which has since become characterized by disclaimers and severe maintenance backlogs of bulk infrastructure. Lenyibi is further implicated in a corruption case relating to a fraudulent tender.

While the DA welcomes Siyathemba municipality’s about-turn on Lenyibi’s appointment, which would have been in direct contravention of the Local Government Municipal Systems Amendment Act, we remain concerned about the impact that the vacant position of municipal manager is having on service delivery in Prieska. The MM position has already been vacant for more than six months, all of which time the municipality’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has been acting in this position. The CFO’s on-going acting appointment (from his fourth month in this position), is questionable. The Local Government Municipal Systems Amendment Act states that, as a principle, a once-off acting appointment may be considered for a period not exceeding three months to enable the municipality to conclude its recruitment and selection process. It further indicates that a municipal council may, in exceptional circumstances, and on good cause shown, apply in writing to the MEC of local government for the extension of the three months period of an acting appointment, for a further period not exceeding three months. It is doubtful whether this process has been followed in terms of the additional three month extension, never mind the fact that the CFO is already acting for the seventh month. This also has direct financial and legal implications in terms of the CFO signing in both his capacities as CFO and MM and could also slow progress on programmes and projects.

I will write to the Northern Cape MEC of local government, Kenneth Mmoeimang, requesting him to intervene in the situation. Mmoeimang should ascertain whether proper processes pertaining to the acting appointment of the MM have indeed been followed, as well as speed up the long overdue appointment of this critical post.

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NCOP set to debate Secrecy Bill that remains a secret

Alf Lees MP

DA Member of the NCOP

Today, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) will be debating the Protection of State Information Bill without having seen copies of the amended Bill. That this is allowed to happen shows the ANC’s contempt for the parliament as a democratic institution and for its core responsibilities as a legislature and for overseeing executive action.

The ANC’s handling of this bill through the parliamentary process has been rushed and in the last week certainly also procedurally problematic.

There was no unanimous decision on the committee report as opposition parties refused to adopt a report which was given to them at the very last minute. In fact it was not even the last minute; it was half an hour after the committee started its meeting to discuss the report.

In addition, a motion was tabled today to suspend rule 239(1), the so-called “three day rule”, which provides that the consideration of a Bill may not commence before at least three working days have lapsed since the committee’s report has been tabled.

Members of the committee have not yet received an amended Bill.

Yet, the NCOP is supposed to debate it this afternoon.

In a functioning democracy and parliament, we would have received the Bill in advance so that members of parliament can make informed decisions and have an informed debate on it.

The ANC clearly has no respect for the legislative process or parliamentary procedure or alternatively is deliberately trying to obscure the details of this potentially destructive piece of legislation in fear of continued backlash from voters and civil society.

Members of Parliament make decisions on behalf of the South African public. It is utterly nonsensical that a decision on a Bill which the DA believes to be unconstitutional and will have far-reaching implications for South African society, will be debated without anyone having seen it.

The Leader for the DA in the NCOP, Elza van Lingen, has this morning written to the Chairperson of the NCOP, the Honourable Mahlangu, to request that the debate be postponed so that all members of the Council have sufficient time to examine the Bill and the report of the Ad Hoc Committee.

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KwaZulu-Natal MEC Scorecards for 2012

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP

Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature

Education MEC Senzo Mchunu

MEC Senzo Mchunu has a vision for the improvement of education in KwaZulu-Natal and is presently trying to manage both the buy-in from various stakeholders as well as the management of the application of a new plan.

Where the MEC has failed has been in the slow acceptance of the necessary steps to turn around policy and the lack of influence he has in getting the rest of cabinet and his national counter parts to support his proposed initiatives fully and to provide the necessary funding. The kind of urgent and radical transformation drives that are necessary are not forthcoming. Instead there is a step by step approach that will take decades for effects to be felt. The MEC is by nature methodical rather than charismatic or bold. This results in him been seen as a knowledgeable leader but not someone who will drive sweeping changes

One certainly cannot fault the MEC’s work ethic. He is very much hands-on and attends many events on the ground. This can also be a weakness, where he himself is problem solving rather than developing capacity in his senior management to do the work while he directs. His attendance at sittings and portfolio committee meetings is good.

Score 7

Finance MEC, Ina Cronje

MEC Cronje attended most treasury briefings and Finance portfolio committee meetings, unless she was overseas or busy with other urgent government business. The department’s HOD and his assistant were well briefed and open to the financial committee in terms of the performance of the department. The spheres of Education and Health – where most of the province’s financial pressure exists – are well controlled in a joint hands-on approach. The province’s overdraft is under control. No departments are using bank over drafts. Positive bank balances resulted in R37 million in over collection of revenue.

Unfortunately, the MEC pays lip service in disclosing Forensic Audits and reporting on controversial internal audit reports, thereby contravening SEC 112 of the constitution to allow oversight by the committee. Control within departments – to ensure that every Rand is well spent – is not effective, with no systems in place to ensure this. Performance is managed in terms of government priorities and little influence is exercised within the executive to ensure that the development plan’s emphasis on education is implemented. President Zuma’s State of the Nation undertakings – to develop infrastructure and maintain government assets – are ignored by MEC’S

Major organogram changes planned for the legislature include 100 new staff within the legislature, 90 within the Community Safety department, hundreds of Youth Ambassadors within the Office of the Premier, hundreds of extension officers within the agriculture department, many community care workers under the health department – all of this while schools are short of teachers.

Had she the support of her provincial cabinet colleagues when it comes to austerity measures, the MEC’s score would be higher.

Score 7/10

Transport MEC, Willies Mchunu

The MEC has a clearly articulated vision for his department and the DA supports the increased expenditure on road maintenance. The issue though is the type of maintenance. -the department has a cure rather than prevention approach. The DA also agreed to the introduction of 24 hour RTI shifts but we disagree with the slow pace of implementation.

In terms of admin, finance and organisational skills, the department has been reported as performing the best in the province over the years. The MEC perceives his role as to protect his staff.

The MEC indulges in sod turning at enormous cost. Yet he is the absent MEC when it comes to a crisis. He has attended some 80% of portfolio committees yet is often absent from Sittings of the House. He is very committed to his party work which undermines his effectiveness as MEC.

Passenger transport in our province is a major concern. It is in disarray, with no clear vision and an emphasis on who owns the transport companies rather than the quality of service offered. The Port Shepstone service is a disaster in the making. There is no clear vision on implementing the regulation of the taxi industry ie route policing and implementation of the one card system.

Vukuzakhe is a closed shop. The DA has always disagreed with this system on the basis that it does not promote people into participating in the open economy of road construction and maintenance. Zibambele has received a qualification for poor oversight and management. This needs to be privatised. Meanwhile the ANC appears intent on showing that it is the magnanimous employer and job creator.

Score 7

KZN Legislature Speaker, Peggy Nkonyeni

While the Speaker has a reasonable understanding of her role, which is to ensure the legislature performs well, she is unfortunately inclined to use the House as her power base by not holding the executive to account as she should. Too often the executive is the tail that wags the dog.

The so-called “Amigo’s” saga has haunted her over the years and it will continue do so. The DA will not let the matter rest.

The Speaker’s attendance at parliamentary sitting and portfolio committee meetings has been good. However, in terms of administration, finance and organizational skills, the DA believes that there is still wasteful expenditure which includes Taking the Legislature to the People (TLTP) and radio broadcasts which seek only to promote ANC office bearers.

The Speaker was receptive to changing policy on drivers for MPPs. Yet she has also supported wasteful projects including study bursaries for MPP’s and a fitness facility for members of the provincial parliament.

During the forthcoming year, the Speaker must address the number of study tours and reduce them, stop the TPTP excesses and reduce rather than increase the number of parliaments for identified groups.

Score 6

Public Works MEC, Ravi Pillay

The MEC is both competent and hard working. He attends portfolio meetings and sittings. Unfortunately his party duties, which have increased since he was made MEC, have deflected his attention away from Public Works. His dual role as Human Settlements MEC also reduces the amount of time spent on Public Works.

MEC Pillay is fortunate to have a very good HOD and CFO. However, the rest of his team appears to be fairly weak. Considering the huge incapacity of this portfolio to deliver on its mandate both in scope and in efficiency, a far more aggressive input is needed from the MEC. Exposure of the problem areas and remediation exercises to the portfolio committee is inadequate, resulting in little genuine over sight and rather an appearance of oversight. There is no indication of a step- by- step roll-out plan to change the capacity of Public Works and no effort made to bring the portfolio committee into his confidence.

Score 6

Arts and Culture MEC, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha

The MEC inherited this department as a result of the cabinet reshuffle late last year. Despite the massive challenges and a limited budget, she appears to be getting to grips with the issues. This portfolio committee meets regularly with the MEC in attendance. The HOD resigned suddenly leaving the Department with an acting HOD.

The programme for construction of Art Centres in rural areas has encountered a setback due to lack of funding, while centres built are proving unsustainable due to the poverty levels of rural communities. The provision of Libraries has also been limited – again due to funding issues. The focus must be on libraries within schools, in partnership with the Department of Education so that reading is encouraged amongst learners.

Sending mobile libraries deep into rural areas has hit a snag. Libraries do not allow books to be taken away and they must be read at the trucks due to the non-return of borrowed books. This is a challenge.

The provincialisation of libraries programme is also struggling due to funding shortages, as are Museum services. Generally, there is a chronic shortage of experienced staff.

Score 6

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) MEC, Nomusa Dube

The portfolio committee meets regularly with the MEC in attendance. While the DA acknowledges that the MEC has her hands full due to political infighting within municipalities, the reality is that only six out of 61 KZN municipalities have achieved Clean Audits during the current financial year.

While the MEC has intervened within some municipalities, the lack of strong action against councillors and officials sends out the message that one can get away with wrong doing.

Her failure to have the full Manase report released and disclose the results of a forensic investigation within uThukela place her in a negative light. Fraud and corruption is rife within municipalities, yet there is little consequence for those implicated. There is ongoing political interference by the ANC to block the release of names of councillors implicated in fraud and corruption. The MEC must name and shame these individuals.

Escalating municipal debt is a major concern. There appears to be a lack of political will when it comes to debt collection and there are also huge losses through the theft of water and electricity.

Score 5

Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo

Dhlomo is a flashy MEC, always on the run and putting out “fires”.

While he has a vision for the department and attends portfolio committee meetings, in his quest to get things right means he tends to take shortcuts, which create new problems ie changing the Newcastle hospital to a mother and child hospital without proper communication with the affected community.

Financial management and SCM irregularities exist but there has been some improvement more recently.

The management and leadership of this department appear to be struggling to cope with the extent of the problem. The meltdown in delivery standards and equipment maintenance at Addington stems from a radical breakdown in staff morale. The MEC should spend more time getting Addington (and other hospitals, e.g. Northdale) working effectively for patients rather than pursuing relations with an undemocratic Cuba.

Despite the hospital problems the MEC would have a relatively high score because of his energy and commitment to improving KZN health standards. His downfall is that he never admits wrongdoing and has an element of arrogance about him. The MEC’s commandeering of an Ethekweni emergency helicopter to attend a funeral, when it was urgently needed elsewhere, has left his credibility in tatters.

Score: 4

Premier Zweli Mkhize, Office of the Premier and the Royal Household

The Office of the Premier appears to be failing to draw a distinction between its duties as a co-ordinating office and as a ministerial unit of government. The core function of this Office is to co-ordinate government functions, yet there seems to be a lack of understanding around this.

Instead, this Office has taken over issues or units such as Rural Development, the 2010 Legacy programme and various other activities which are meant to be channelled to relevant ministerial departments ie Rural Development to Department of Agriculture and the 2010 Legacy programme to the Department of Sports and Recreation.

Continued patterns of over expenditure within the department are a reflection on its leadership and have the potential to compromise the integrity of the department as a whole.

The Premier’s lack of attendance of portfolio committees makes it difficult for members to interact or engage with him in their endeavour to play an oversight role. This has left immense misunderstanding around issues relating to the Sukuma Sakhe programmes, Youth Ambassadors, War Rooms and their functionality.

Score: 4

MEC Willies Mchunu, Community Safety and Liaison

The MEC’s focus seems to be largely on his popularity with the public, hence his trips around the province for sod turning and other ceremonies, leaving little time to focus on the department itself.

There have been very few meetings of the portfolio committee.

Recent crime statistics reflect that areas such as uMlazi and KwaMashu continue to be murder capitals in our province. This is an indictment against the department and its crime fighting initiatives. The same remarks can also be made in relation to the recent emergence of political violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

Score 4

Social Development MEC, Weziwe Thusi

Thusi is a trouble-shooter, brought into the department after the cabinet reshuffle late last year. She began with much enthusiasm and proved to be a willing listener. Unfortunately the rug has been pulled from under her, with the many of her critical staff moving with the former MEC.

She attends portfolio committee meetings. As of now not much appears to be taking place within the committee, except for a study tour to Japan.

Progress wise, there is little to report within this department.

Score 4

Agriculture MEC, Meshack Radebe

On the plus side, this Department has an unqualified audit in 2011/12 with only emphases of matter. Major issues relate to irregular expenditure and the achievement of planned targets. At its hearing the Department appeared to have a strategy to deal with SCM irregularities, though the 39% non-achievement of planned targets indicates a department with serious management and planning deficiencies. Recent serious allegations by NEHAWU relating to nepotism and irregular SCM procedures speak to the MEC’s fitness for purpose and must be investigated.

The MEC provides very little leadership or vision to his officials and little understanding of the need to empower emergent commercial farmers. His attendance at portfolio meetings is poor. Testimony from the Black Farmers Association indicates that there has been a pattern of successive MECs (including this one) failing to address their concerns or for the Department to provide technical assistance or monitoring of land restitution projects. However, the MEC did take action to lead the rabies inoculation programme.

Score: 3

Economic Development and Tourism MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu

Most of this department’s entities did not receive a clean audit from the Auditor-General. Ithala is a drain on the province’s finances with R300 million having been written off for the second time. Dube Trade Port is a mess – the CEO has resigned and the forensic audit has not been released. Meanwhile, millions are being spent to compete with existing businesses. The Richard’s Bay IDZ has not contracted with any major job creator or industrialist in the past three years despite province’s investment of R250 million.

Tourism is not functioning at optimal level, with obvious opportunities overlooked. TIK is not effective to bring businesses to the province. Farmers are not helped to effectively farm redistributed land. There is no liaison with organised business on ECOD’s programmes. The Liquor Act has not been properly implemented to obtain planned revenue for the department. There are too many summits and adverts that have no economic value.

The MEC is ineffective in being the catalyst for economic development in KwaZulu-Natal.

Score 3

Sports and Recreation MEC, Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Saphetha

There seems to be no clear reason why the MEC was given this position. While pleasant to deal with, she lacks both the force of character and the necessary understanding of this portfolio to provide vision or a co-ordinated future roll-out plan. She has inherited a defunct administration and a mandate without an appropriate budget to fulfil it.

There is little hope that this portfolio under this MEC will achieve anything substantial.

Score 3

Conservation and Environmental Affairs MEC, Meshack Radebe

MEC Radebe does not have a clearly articulated vision for his department. There is no clear policy around eradicating poaching and no clear vision on focusing on the core function of Conservation, which is to conserve the natural heritage of our province including fauna and flora and the threatened species of game. There is also no clear reporting on the preservation of the environment – pollution of land and air.

The MEC has attended four portfolio committee meetings since taking office in November 2011. He left early during three of the meetings. The MEC abuses the state’s helicopter for his own travel – both personal and official. He focuses his attention on campaigning for the ANC under the guise of community meetings and facility opening events.

This department’s finances are misdirected – much is spent on the loss-making hospitality industry in game and nature parks, while not enough is directed to the conservation of our natural heritage. The MEC has failed to hold Ezemvelo officials accountable for their performance – both operationally and ethically. Instead he seems to have a hands-off approach which has allowed nepotism and corruption to creep through the organisation.

MEC Radebe has failed to lead from the front. He is more of an absent MEC, except on sod turning occasions. His intention is blatantly to promote the ANC within the department and through the department within communities. He has not addressed the difficult questions.

Score 2

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The people shall wait while the ANC parties

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The hypocrisy of the ANC has once again come to the fore, as it shelves its government responsibilities in order to party, in preparation of the ANC National Elective Conference in Mangaung.

The DA has learnt that the ANC’s Mpumalanga structures will tomorrow be hosting its candidate nomination meeting, followed by a lavish fundraising event at the Mbombela stadium. It is rumoured that R30 000 will get you in, and that President Jacob Zuma will be attending the event.

In order to ensure that the days’ events are well attended and run smoothly, the ANC has shafted several government responsibilities. Not only has the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature declared Friday 30 November as a “constituency day”, despite the fact that the legislature recess is only seven days away, but several municipal councils including Mbombela, Thaba Chweu and Emakhazeni have cancelled their monthly council meeting. In Emalahleni the council meeting was cancelled, then rescheduled for its original time and it waits to be seen if the meeting will go ahead tonight.

As a result dozens of council reports won’t be considered and decisions won’t be taken. Dozens of items which serve before municipal councils won’t serve and investors, applicants and any other interested party will have to wait a little longer before knowing the outcome of a council decision.

It is appalling that the ANC who proclaims to be the people’s party, can with such ease place their governmental duties on the back burner, prioritising Presidents Zuma’s re-election bid.

The decisions by the ANC to cancel critical meetings so as to serve the party exposes exactly where their priorities lie – with themselves, not the people – and exposes the increasing arrogance of the ANC that they can simply do whatever they like.

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Western Cape Summer Campaign – Adventurously Yours, Naturally Ours

Alan Winde MP

Western Cape Minister of Finance, Economic Development & Tourism

Today, Western Cape Tourism Minister, Alan Winde, in conjunction with the Province’s destination marketing agency, Wesgro, unveiled its Summer Campaign – “Adventurously Yours, Naturally Ours”. The “Adventurously Yours, Naturally Ours” campaign highlights the many adventure and nature activities that the Western Cape has to offer, and invites domestic and international tourists to visit us and explore their adventurous side.

The campaign will run from 29 November 2012 to March 2013. Speaking after diving with sharks at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, Western Cape Minister of Tourism, Alan Winde said: “The Western Cape has many must-see natural wonders and exhilarating adventure activities that cater for all ages. These include abseiling Table Mountain, ostrich riding in Oudtshoorn, Africa’s longest zip-slide in Ceres, kloofing in the Nuy River Gorge and paragliding in Porterville (which will host the World Paragliding Championships in April next year). I would like to urge all tourists to visit our province and embrace their inner adrenalin junkie or love for the outdoors.” The complete list of activities is available on Wesgro’s online portal, www.wesgro.co.za/destinationmarketing. Tourists are encouraged to visit the website when planning their summer holiday activities. Wesgro CEO Nils Flaatten said: “Cape Town and the Western Cape has many hidden gems, which we look forward to sharing with all the tourists who will be visiting our shores this year. Forecasts conducted by UNWTO, indicate that by the end of 2012, it is expected that the total number of international tourists will surpass the one billion mark for the first time, despite the challenging economic conditions and we are anticipating a 3 to 4% growth for the year.” He went on to say “the Western Cape offers something for the whole family from beautiful wine routes in the Hemel en Aarde Valley to berry picking in Swellendam and cycle routes in the Central Karoo.

“The “Adventurously Yours, Naturally Ours” activities will also be highlighted on social media platforms such as Facebook, Youtube and Twitter covering all regions in the Western Cape and the various adventure activities available” Minister Winde added.

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Debate on Youth Unemployment

Radley Keys, MPP

DA Chief Whip in the KZN Legislature

Speaker,

Unemployment is a curse to people who do not have work.

Unemployment makes of a person, a child, dependent on hand-outs from family, friends, religious organisations, NGOs and organs of state.

Youth unemployment is at crisis levels in our province.

While our young people are being turned away day after day in their attempts to find work, on the grounds of lack of experience and qualifications, government in the province fiddles.

Let us analyse the crisis:

Firstly, the training of apprentices for qualified artisans and journeymen and women previously conducted by Spoornet has been discontinued

* Young people wanting to qualify as artisans must fund themselves with zero resources

* The costs of the testing of artisans is prohibitively expensive for young people without access to funding

Secondly, the education system has fallen into disrepute – sadly our education system neither provides young people with skills they can sell on the open market, nor establishes a foundation for further training and development.

* Matriculants have to undergo bridging courses to bring them to a level of competency to manage their university studies

* School leavers wanting to enter a trade are not offered curricula to prepare them for a career in a trade

* Learners who drop out from and exit the education system before matric are condemned to manual labour as their only option for life, and as we witness daily, it is these most vulnerable young people that are the most abused when it comes to wages and working conditions. This is potentially our lost generation of young people

Thirdly, the pressure on business to survive in the international economic crisis invariably results in reduction of the number of workers they employ

* Under the restrictive labour legislation they are not encouraged to employ and train young people.

* With the high level of labour unrest and violent protest, the incentive is not to employ our youth, but to mechanise.

In summary, we have a high drop-out rate, poor education, and a shrinking employment level in the economic sector.

What is government’s responsibility in this scenario?

Speaker, the government’s role is to provide an environment where investment grows and more and more of our youth become participants in the economic mainstream. To do this the state must ensure:

* An education system that provides our youth with skills and training they can sell. The state dismally fails our youth on this count.

* A programme to assist employers to employ and train our youth further to become constructive contributors to the provincial GDP. The provincial government would rather fund failing chicken and pig farming and other projects

* That young people are trained in the trades – a dismal record from this government. The ANC government has dismantled the trade schools run by Spoornet, and closed down the ship building industry based in Durban where many young people learnt essential trades to put South Africa on the ship building map.

* Incentives to train young people in the private sector have been discarded – there is no clear programme to encourage the industrial, commercial and agricultural sectors to train our youth.

Instead, this provincial government has developed a programme of youth employment that does not put them in a position where they have skills to sell and participate as contributors to the national GDP.

The ANC provincial government employs youth ambassadors under the Premier, Community Development workers and ward committees under the MEC of Co-operative Governance, War rooms across the province that duplicate municipal structures, EPWPs that provide menial temporary jobs with no security. These initiatives do not train our youth to generate income, but purely to consume public funds.

There is no concerted effort to improve the lot of our youth. Even the NYDP National Youth Development Programme has been exposed as an ANC employment arm.

Speaker, the crisis demands a proactive and courageous approach. Putting young people into protected employment with no skills development will prejudice our entire province in the long run.

The dignity of a person is undermined by the hand-outs and/or crumbs of a welfare society the ANC has developed. A society built on dependency is doomed to failure. The short term programme to secure power by buying young people will backfire, not only on the ANC, but on the future of our province.

We as a province need to take bold steps and;

* Implement the youth wage subsidies.

* Incentivise employers to employ and train young people.

* Tax and rates holidays – tax rebates for employing people rather than increasing tax as more people are employed.

* Re-establish the trade schools that will provide the skills our province so sorely needs.

Hand-outs do not guarantee our future. A welfare state does not create entrepreneurs that generate income and employment.

The DA challenges the Premier to turn this Titanic around before we sink.

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