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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.