Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
New Mpumalanga finance MEC Madala Masuku will tomorrow set the tone for what the DA hopes will ring a new dawn for the people of Mpumalanga, when he submits his 2013/14 provincial budget. With at least R33 billion of the national fiscus headed for Mpumalanga, supplemented by provincial revenue, the DA hopes that this financial year will be the year of infrastructure investment and sustainable job creation, and truly bring a better life to our province’s four million people, especially if MEC Masuku targets the following key areas:
Mpumalanga’s learners, especially in the rural areas, are forced to share desks and chairs in classrooms with broken windows and no electricity, yet are expected to lay the foundation for a bright and prosperous future. Learners will only perform well when taught in dignified conditions that instill a sense of pride an belonging.
With more than three million people dependent on the state for their basic health care needs, a massive injection is required in infrastructure development and improvement. However, infrastructure spend will mean nothing if critical staff shortages are not addressed. The DA hopes that MEC Masuku will finally make the funds available to bring more health professionals to Mpumalanga.
Premier David Mabuza may have not announced the implementation of the Youth Wage Subsidy, but this does not prevent MEC Masuku from implementing job creation strategies for the youth of our province. The potential for jobs and business opportunities abound in Mpumalanga’s tourism sector, and should be exploited. Not just are jobs in this sector much more sustainable than short-term EPWP placements, but they lay the foundation for expanding Mpumalanga tourism to the world-class service it ought to be.
Water supply and municipal services
Mpumalanga’s water supply crisis is far from over, and citizens are now faced with an looming electricity crisis too. Financial mismanagement in local municipalities have caused municipal Eskom bills to fall into arrears, with Lekwa, Msukaligwa and other municipalities now facing disconnection. The finance department and provincial treasury must offer more support to failing municipalities, as well as assist in to bring them in line with National Treasury’s minimum competency guidelines for financial officers and managers. While national finance minister has pledged additional funds for disaster relief and the Mpumalanga University, the reality is that the budget in Mpumalanga requires a twofold approach. First is the critically high youth unemployment rate of 43% which requires urgent intervention, and secondly to bring governance and the promise of a better life in caring and dignified manner.