Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
Economic development, job creation and improved living standards will remain unattainable for the majority of Mpumalanga’s people as long as the Department of Public Works Roads and Transport continues to under-perform.
For years the department has failed to deliver on its mandate, in particular when it comes to road maintenance and development, which has a knock-on effect on the economy. It fell 49% short of its 2012/13 targets and the trend continues into the 2013/14 financial year where it has already failed to achieve any of its infrastructure design targets for the first quarter.
It has also only partially achieved its road infrastructure maintenance targets relating to gravel and paved roads while numerous big infrastructure projects were delayed – or completely scrapped – due to the department’s inability to adhere to commencement dates.
A proper and well-maintained roads infrastructure is the foundation of economic development, job creation and prosperity, Mpumalanga’s rural economy is largely dependent on gravel roads and therefore it is imperative that these get maintained. Failing to do so will cripple numerous industries and elevate unemployment.
Apart from crimping economic growth through lack of infrastructure delivery, the department is compounding this by failing to pay service providers on time. In his State of the Province Address premier David Mabuza vowed that his cabinet would start paying service providers within 30 days, because not doing so kills small businesses and generates unemployment. However, his words are yet to be put into action.
The department has for far too long gotten away with non-delivery and non-compliance, which is an indication that the current provincial government either can’t see or doesn’t care about the negative impact it has on the provincial economy.
Given Mpumalanga’s escalating unemployment and poverty rate, it is time for government to act. MEC Dikeledi Mahlangu must improve internal controls while premier Mabuza must ensure this is done properly. Action must also be taken against all officials who do not co-operate in this regard.
Ultimately, the onus to create better conditions for economic development and job creation lies on the premier and those he manages – his cabinet. After almost five years it is high time they start serving the people who voted them into power by ensuring that the people get what they deserve – a better quality of life.