Harold McGluwa, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Provincial Chairperson
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed at the lackluster State of the Province Address (SOPA) delivered by the Acting Premier, Grizelda Cjiekella. The entire address was short on providing inspiration to the residents of the Northern Cape, yet oddly seemed defensive.
From the onset, the Acting Premier began her address almost anticipating having to deflect her administrations short-comings, and bad press regarding the conduct of senior leadership in her government.
In what is an uncharacteristic move, she began her SOPA by mentioning a R357 million debt inherited from the previous administration, almost creating the false impression that the previous Government was somehow not run by the ANC. Even more curious was her then proceeding to praise her administration for seemingly building cash surpluses of what she cited as currently standing at R527 million. Is the Acting Premier gloating about unspent funds in her administration?
The DA is of the view that although the Acting Premier monotonously listed the achievements of national government in the province, such as the Square Kilometer Array project near Carnarvon as well as the establishment of the new university in Kimberley, the listed achievements of her provincial administration failed to convince us of their outcomes for the residents of the province.
One such provincial achievement was the supposed success of the education camps in Deo Gloria and Keimoes. Indecently the very existence of these camps was brought about by the failure of her administration to diffuse tensions in the affected John Taole District, which led to the closure of schools.
Of greatest concern was that a number of key issues in the province were conveniently glossed over by the Acting Premier in her address. The most glaring omission was the matter of the Provincial Mental Health Hospital, which is now at least 4 years overdue, and is still the subject of investigations. The Acting Premier also glaringly side-stepped the issue of looming job losses in the agricultural sector in the wake of a new minimum wage. She failed to detail whether her government has any plans to help save the jobs of poor farm workers, or alternatively provide assistance in the event they lose their jobs.
The DA is also concerned at the lip-service paid to the growing problem of corruption in the provincial government. The Acting Premier merely provided rhetoric about her administration apparently having a “zero tolerance” approach to corruption. Yet in a twist of irony perhaps lost on Cjiekella, two of her Cabinet colleagues who were with her on stage, are currently before the courts facing serious charges. No action has been taken against them. This is hardly the stuff of zero tolerance campaigns.
The Acting Premier failed to convince ordinary struggling residents that her administration was able to have a meaningful impact on their lives. It exposed the leadership vacuum that has plagued the provincial government for the past year. It is the DA’s view that the people of the Northern Cape have been let down by the SOPA.