Gauteng is a smart province, with a not-so-smart government

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

Note: This is an extract of a speech delivered by DA Gauteng Caucus Leader, Jack Bloom MPL during the Gauteng State of the Province debate.

Gauteng is a dynamic province that is strengthened by its diversity. It’s a smart province with a not-so-smart provincial government. The DA will make our input into the Gauteng 2055 Vision. We are pleased that it takes into account the National Development Plan which in large measure we can all unite around. But a global city region needs strong cities.

In 2009, the Premier said: “We are assisting municipalities to become sustainable and viable entities. A number of initiatives have been put in place in this regard particularly in recovering the municipal debt, improving revenue generation and municipal cash flow. The Operation Clean Audit project is being rolled out towards ensuring that all municipalities have clean audits by 2010.”

But our biggest city, Johannesburg, still gets horrendous reports from the Auditor-General and still cannot solve its billing crisis. There is a strong case to put Tshwane under administration as it is technically bankrupt according to the Auditor-General and is struggling to even pay salaries. Not a single one of our 15 municipalities got a clean audit last year. The National Development Plan will only work with a capable state. But this is precisely where crony appointments undermine a professional civil service. And worse, an incompetent government is meddling in areas where it hobbles the private sector with red tape and extra costs. The task of government is to provide basic security, education, health and infrastructure. Opportunity must be provided so that everyone can have the means to be the best that they can be. On the one hand, no-one should be left behind. On the other hand, we must value excellence in a race to the top. The jobs we need will be created by entrepreneurs, not by government. We need a real partnership between public and private, one in which innovation is boosted at every turn. This administration has a long record of failed promises that undermine this partnership. The history of this country is a history of a promise fulfilled, a promise betrayed, and the promise to come. In 1994, the promise of a new, non-racial South Africa was fulfilled. We have a Constitution that defends and promotes the rights of everyone. But then we have the promise betrayed. This is when delivery starts to fail because of corruption, incompetence and lack of accountability. Because people in the ruling party look after themselves rather than those who voted for them. Because service to self takes precedence over service to others. And then we have the promise to come. The promise to come is when people become active citizens in challenging the abuse of power. When people use the ballot box to choose a party that respects them. A party that will tell the truth. A party that will keep its promises. A party that will deliver. In 2055, when both the Honourable Premier and I will be in our nineties, we will look back at the change of government in Gauteng that made the real difference. We will celebrate together the true fulfilment of the promise of this province.

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