Mokonyane’s empty promises

Jack Bloom MPL

Leader of Gauteng Legislature

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane always paints a rosy picture of accomplishment in her State of the Province speeches. But this trick only works if you don’t refer back to promises made in previous speeches.

Job creation is one area of glaring failure. Last year Mokonyane said that six Township Enterprise Hubs would be built in Sebokeng, Sharpeville, Kagiso, Katlehong, Tembisa and Winterveldt. She invited me in June last year to the launch of the Hub in Winterveldt. Her office issued a photograph of the two of us doing the sod-turning ceremony for a Hub that was going to have various specialised employment clusters.

On 30 November last year Mokonyane said: “We have successfully launched the Township Enterprise Hubs.” I re-visited the site of the Winterveldt Hub two weeks ago. I was astonished to find a completely empty field, with no building construction whatsoever.

The Premier had obviously not kept tabs on this project until January this year when she announced that Mr Khulu Radebe, Head of the Economic Development Department, had been suspended because several youth employment projects had “collapsed”. Not a single Hub has been built, and the much-touted Y-Age Youth Entrepreneurship Programme has been dramatically scaled down.

This Programme was supposed to reach 125 000 current and potential youth entrepreneurs. R30 million was spent to set it up, but 2300 currently enrolled young business people have been left without start-up capital for their businesses. It’s all a cruel blow to the hopes of young unemployed people.

In 2009, the Premier promised “the revitalisation of Ekandustria” and also said she would “rehabilitate the Babelegi Industrial Park”. Very little has happened here either.

The most problematic Gauteng department is Health. In 2009, Mokonyane promised “a turn-around strategy to revitalize clinics and hospitals, reduce long queues and improve the availability of essential drugs and medical equipment”. Every year since then she has continued to talk about a turn-around strategy. But there have been three Health MECs and heads of department during this time, and there is currently only an acting head. The department still cannot even give an accurate number of how many people it employs.

It has been a drag on the cash flow of the entire provincial government as other departments have been required to surrender money to it, described as a “hair-cut”. More than 20% of essential medicines are not disbursed on time. It’s a miserable saga of top leadership failure and wrong appointments at every level.

Emergency services are a scandal, with only 43% of calls responded to within 15 minutes, instead of the 80% international standard. Mokonyane says that 100 ambulances have been bought, but what happened to the 115 new ambulances she told us about in her 2010 SOTP address?

Last year, she said: “Natalspruit and Zola Hospitals are currently close to completion”.

This year we are told again: “The Natalspruit and Zola Hospitals are close to completion”.

Both hospitals were supposed to have been completed years ago. Mokonyane has a long record of extravagant announcements but little outcome. This year she continues her reign as the “Queen of empty promises”.

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