The Free State lacks Leadership, Leadership and once more Leadership

Peter Frewen MPL DA Spokesperson for Finance Note: the following speech was delivered today during a debate of the provincial treasury at a sitting of the Free State Legislature in Reddersburg. Deputy Speaker, I welcome the Legislature into what is my home territory – the Xhariep District and today Kopanong. We welcome the announcement that there are plans to erect a solar farm at Bethulie; this will bring a much needed financial injection into the southern Free State. The planned investment of R150 million over the long term to expand the nature reserve is also welcome. We are concerned that Kopanong has now twice withdrawn the sale of erven in Gariep Dam – the sale of these erven would have led to much needed development in Gariep Dam. The Gariep Dam area is an area with vast potential which needs to be unlocked. Along the lower Orange River and Riet River there is 20,000 ha of irrigation and the development of 3,000 ha at Oppermans which is underway – the provincial government must not be caught sleeping and the road infrastructure in this area needs to be maintained and in some areas improved. The MEC for Treasury – he is now the past MEC as he was replaced this week – and quite possibly knowing that he was about to be moved, he was encouraged to say the following in his budget speech, and I quote; “the challenges facing us require concerted commitment to clean governance. If we dare lose focus of clean, responsive, accountable, effective and efficient governance – at all levels of government – we might as well accept now that we have failed in our duties. In our budget speech last year we reflected on the importance of clean audits by 2014; and yes we are the first to admit that things are not panning out as planned.” Close quote. The question to ask is; why? Why are things not panning out as planned? And the answer is always the same – leadership. If you have a leader who is committed to clean, responsive, accountable, effective and efficient governance then you will achieve your goals, but if the leader is not committed to these goals then you have problems – and in the Free State we have a leader who is not committed to achieving these goals. We have a leader who is not accountable, last year it was the roads debacle, this year it is the whole website and media debacle – what will it be next year? And the losers are always the same people – those who can least afford anything. The ANC loves talking about “our people”, but the truth is that “our people” is now a small group of people who always seem to benefit from contracts and projects – the ANC is not worried about all the people out there – they are just worried about “our people”. Are local municipalities really concerned about the lack of service delivery? Do the mayors and councillors in the district and local municipalities really care about what is happening on the ground – are they in touch with the people? Or is more important to attend the all the meetings and functions to which they are invited – always at cost to the municipality. Deputy Speaker, Today I want to tell the Premier something which The Weekly, or Hlasela TV or the Community Development Workers won’t tell you and don’t tell you. The Weekly and Hlasela TV only tell you all the good things – not the bad things – they don’t tell you about the service delivery that does not take place. There are twenty six towns in the Free State that at this very moment do not supply water to all the people or have regular water supply problems. There may even be more that I am not aware of. The mayors will probably all be present at your Budget speech in Vredefort on Monday and Viljoenskroon on Tuesday. I ask – is it more important for the mayor of Kopanong to go and listen to a budget speech in Vredefort or is more important for him to go and talk to the community of Noordmansville and solve their water problems for them? Sewerage systems. Municipalities always want to spend money on big expensive treatment plants – that cost lots of money to operate. It is actually not necessary – oxidation dams work just as well – cost a lot less to build and to operate. But municipalities build these big plants and then they have not got the funds to operate them. I called at Theunissen a little while ago. The operator there told me that he had been there for eight years and that the plant had never ever functioned properly – regardless of the fact that he reported the matter to the Municipal Manager. And there are a lot more plants like that! For two years the sewerage in Wepener and Kanana was a free flow system into the Caledon River – it took countless letters and phone calls to the mayor, the municipal manager with no success and ultimately the MEC before anything was done about the matter. And the problem has still not been fixed properly. Ficksburg – it is a river of sewerage that flows. Kroonstad – it is a river of sewerage that flows. Muncipalities do not spend money on maintenance of water purification plants and waste water treatment plants and then they wonder why these plants stop operating. Housing – this is a disaster. The Hlasela housing project in Jagersfontein is now being carried away – by the people. These houses have been there for a number of years and are still not complete. There are incomplete houses in virtually every town in Free State. Here in Xhariep you can go to Vanstadensrus, Zastron, Smithfield, Bethulie, Gariep Dam, Springfontein, in Letsemeng out of the 150 houses built 100 have to be broken down and rebuilt. When Mr Mafereka was the MEC he said that contractors would be black listed and would not get houses to build again if they did not complete houses or build poor quality houses. But things don’t change in the ANC – we still get contractors who don’t finish building houses, who don’t pay the subcontractors, who build poor quality houses. In Sasolburg the houses built by a contractor were blown over by the wind but the “makoekoes” were not blown over – what does that tell you? Deputy Speaker, no amount of propaganda by Hlasela TV or The Weekly or all the other propaganda newspapers like the Matjhabeng News will convince the people on the ground that things are going well. The people feel and see and live it every day. The people know what it is like to open a tap and no water comes out, they know what it is like to have to walk through sewerage if they want to go to work, they know what it is to see rubbish piled high and never removed. The ANC has failed the people of the Free State when it comes to service delivery.

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