Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader
In a display of no confidence, the Democratic Alliance has voted against the budget speeches of all five of the province’s most strategic departments, including Health, Social Development, Education, Roads and Public Works, as well as COGHSTA.
Analysis of these departments clearly shows that, by way of their inability to manage past budget allocations to meet their predetermined objectives, they have failed the sick, young, old, vulnerable, unemployed and talented people of the Northern Cape, including those who are trying to be economically productive. We sympathize with these people. Their right to follow their dreams has and is being violated by the current ANC administration.
Sick people are suffering. They spend hours waiting for medical attention at clinics and hospitals. They further wait months, if not years, to undergo operations that have the potential to significantly improve their quality of life. Meanwhile, grieving families also have to wait prolonged periods of time to bury their loved ones. This is ethically unacceptable and is due to a deteriorating health system in the province. This sad state of affairs is epitomized by the declining number of doctors and nurses in the employ of this department, our very own monument of corruption by way of the unfinished mental health hospital, and the growing amount of irregular expenditure being accrued by this department.
At the same time, vulnerable people of this province have to take a back-seat. This is because we are faced with a situation whereby this department is relieving poverty but not releasing people from poverty. A total of 41% of the population is dependent on social grants. Soup kitchens have grown by 52% and unemployment amongst the youth stands at 70%. NGO’s all need to receive above inflation allocations and be measured against set targets, particularly those that translate into real opportunities for the youth. This includes skills training to link them to economic strategies. We also need to strengthen families by addressing domestic violence and addiction through building safe houses and a rehabilitation centre for the province. This is important if families are to take advantage of economic opportunities, and play their part in improving the moral fiber of our society.
Talented people of the province are being sidelined. In rural areas in particular, there is a shortage of educators. The quality of our maths and science marks also indicates that there is a problem with quality of our teachers. In effect, this narrows the opportunities of our learners to become part of economic initiatives such as the SKA and Bloodhound projects, as well as those in the mining and agriculture sectors, or to run their own business successfully. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, teachers who excel are not recognized or rewarded. Sadly then, it is both our learners and our teachers who are short-changed.
Those people who want to be productive are also getting the short end of the stick. The critical state of our road network and the province’s severely lacking public transport system, is obstructing economic development. It seems that maladministration, fraud and corruption within the Department of Roads and Public Works, has become the greatest cost driver of this department. This is deplorable as investments in the road sector have the potential to benefit all our people by providing access to territory and allowing the alleviation of poverty.
Our people are also bearing the brunt of the breakdown of social cohesion within our communities. This is largely due to the frustrations, which translate into protests, caused by the poor delivery of basic services on a local government level. In this respect, the Department of COGHSTA is failing to properly oversee our municipalities. This is evident from the fact that 21 out of our 32 municipalities fell into the disclaimed or qualified category during the latest audits.
In effect, the Northern Cape people have taken a back seat due to the funding allocations of provincial departments and municipalities not translating into effective service delivery.
Sound financial management is linked to service delivery. In this regard, the DA proposes that the Northern Cape take a lesson in best practices from the Western Cape provincial government, where within a year of the DA coming into power, the new administration was able to turn provincial departments around. Proof hereof is the string of clean audits attained by WC government departments. There is no reason why the same results can’t be achieved here.