Roy Jankielsohn MPL
DA Caucus Leader in the Free State Legislature
Note: the following speech was delivered today (18 March 2013) during a debate in the Free State Legislature
Deputy-Speaker, during his budget presentation to the legislature, the former MEC for Finance, Hon Mohai, stated the following: “One set of challenges is about building the capacity and requisite competencies of the State in the Free State to drive the development agenda as envisaged in the GDS (Growth and Development Strategy).”
This statement is an acknowledgement that after investing huge amounts of money in the office of the premier, that this office has not been able to carry out its task of building the capacity and competencies of our provincial government. I use the past tense because the current premier is reaching the end of his electoral term of office
The Auditor-General (AG) reported in his 2011/12 report that of the R24,8 billion of unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure; a shocking R3,255 billion is from the Free State. The AG singled out the Free State since 70% of the province’s institutions and departments are guilty of this, and that misuse of public funds has become “the norm”.
The current ruling faction in the Free State, especially the premier and his former Director-General, must be held accountable for this. We must ask ourselves why after so many years under the current governing faction of the ANC, capacity and competence is still such a great challenge. It is because the current governing faction is more concerned about what they and their factionalist cadres can benefit from the state, than the services that our people on the ground are getting from the state? Our people in the Free State have been surviving on vitamins A and C. Since 2009 they have been getting overdoses of vitamins A,C and E. These vitamins A, C, and E have replaced a sound diet, which in government terms should be a diet of basic services such as water, sewerage, electricity, healthcare and infrastructure.
Allow me to give you a local example. Here in Ngwathe the registration offices of the Department of Police, Roads and Transport burnt down in Parys. Since then people from Parys have had to travel to Vredefort to do much of their registrations. The problem is that after driving this distance and standing in queues, the offices do not have paper, print cartridges, or stationary. This happens across the province every year at the end of the budget cycle. Our people waste their time and money travelling distances only to be told that they cannot be assisted. When will the province rebuild the burnt offices, and when will the province complete the Vredefort / Kroonstad road? Will it be in this century?
Deputy-Speaker, the budget of the office of the premier continues to increase while we know that our legislature is finding it difficult to function effectively and our department of health will not have enough money for any salary increases for employees this year.
Over the past few years the budget for the office of the premier has increased to R279 956 000, while the legislature stands at a mere R179 698 000 this next financial year.
The legislature is the basis of our democracy while the office of the premier is a planning, coordination, and oversight office. Under the current regime it has become an empire for a governing factionalist elite. The office of the premier has become known as a haven of irregular activity as has been exposed recently with the latest scandals that we can perhaps coin Letlaka-gate. Letlaka-gate has seen tens of millions, probably hundreds of millions, of rands spent on various communication contracts that gives one company, Letlaka Communications, a monopoly over lucrative contracts and allows a state controlled media to become the mouthpiece of a ruling faction in the Free State.
Investigations indicate that Letlaka has received an improper gain from their involvement with transactions with the office of the premier, and that their contracts should in fact be cancelled. We know that the aggressive response from the former DG and newly appointed MEC for Finance, Hon Elsabe Rockman, could be due to other off the record activities and transactions with Letlaka. We have been informed that a house in Heuwelsig in Bloemfontein is the centre of such meetings and transactions. The ANC spokesperson in the Free State will have us believe that Hon Rockman was good for the legislature, yet she despised opposition parties and signed of a controversial multi million rand Letlaka contract with The Weekly Newspaper just before she left. The premier bragged in this legislature less than two weeks ago that he has people with titles in his government. We don’t care about titles, but we do care about their honesty, integrity, and management skills. The premier indicated that the former MEC for Finance, Hon Mohai, had good leadership and administrative qualities. We require such qualities urgently in the Free State, not in parliament where he will be one of 400 members, unless he is to become at least a minister or deputy-minister. The truth is that the premier does not want strong leaders around him, he wants yes men and yes women.
Deputy-Speaker let us look at some other MEC’s. Our new MEC for Health, Dr Benny Malakoane, has a very chequered governance record. When he was municipal manager of Matjhabeng Municipality he is alleged to have signed over R10 million in contracts in one day, just a few days before he left the municipality. An article in The Weekly Newspaper indicates that a report handed over to the former MEC for cooperative governance, Hon Zwane, accuses the Hon Malakoane of “grossly undermining the rule of law”. It also refers to various other shady contracts and irregular lease agreements that ensured that the people of Matjhabeng received poor services and even poorer value for money. Some of the companies mentioned are Marlin, Fujitsu, Mangaung Business Solutions, Universal Pulse, Gestetner, G10 Abasebenzi, KLM Housing, and Sobek. The municipality incurred huge financial losses due to the doctor’s actions. This doctor did not heal Matjhabeng, but caused their illness from which they have still not recovered. Now he has been promoted to MEC for Health.
Deputy-Speaker, we need doctors in our hospitals, not in government.
Our current MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development has a similar track record as former mayor regarding the flouting of tender procedures causing the municipality millions of rands in losses. These are the type of track records that you require in order to obtain, and keep, senior and lucrative positions in the current ruling faction in the Free State.
I mentioned capacity and competence in the beginning of my speech. The only capacity and competence that our premier is concerned about is the capacity to be devious and the competence to cover it up. The Institute of Race Relations recently released employment statistics that indicate that unemployed people in the Free state has increased the most in the country by 17.8% percent, from 303 000 unemployed people in 2011 to 357 000 in 2012. This is sound proof that corruption makes poor people poorer.
Deputy-Speaker, I will continue to repeat what I say at every opportunity in this legislature: “evil prevails because good men and women keep quiet”. I will stop repeating this when the majority of people representing the governing party in this legislature have the courage to do what their conscience dictates. Your failure to do the right thing because of your lack of courage and fear of reprisal will place you on the wrong side of history, for the same moral reasons that the previous National Party regime in this country was placed on the wrong side of history. The ANC as a party has done many good things, and we must acknowledge this. We must, however, also acknowledge that this organisation has been hijacked by a few self-serving individuals, and in the Free State it is fast becoming that which it fought against in the past. We can all assist in the fight against the mediocrity that has become entrenched as the norm in the Free State’s provincial government and municipalities.
Our people must, however, accept responsibility for the actions of a government that they continue to vote for. In a democracy you get the government that you vote for, and you deserve the government that you vote for.