Eastern Cape DA response to State of the Province

Bobby Stevenson MPL

Chief Whip in the Provincial Legislature

Note: The final debate on the State of the Province Address took place in the Bhisho Legislature this morning.  Herewith the speech delivered by Bobby Stevenson, on behalf of the DA.

The Democratic Alliance agrees that life is better in South Africa than it was prior to 1994. Progress has been made in the delivery of basic services such as water, housing and electricity as well as infrastructure development. This is a good story and the Democratic Alliance is proud to be associated with the progress that has taken place in the Eastern Cape.

We also appreciate the Premier’s commitment to national reconciliation by including names from across the broad political spectrum in her speech including our late colleague, Pine Pienaar. Molly Blackburn was someone I worked very closely with in the fight against apartheid. Yes we fought apartheid and are committed to redressing its shameful and hurtful legacy that is still with us today.

But another story is being told daily on the streets of our province where people express their frustration by means of service delivery protests. Over the last three months there have been 254 service delivery protests in the Eastern Cape.

Municipal IQ regards Gauteng and the Eastern Cape as the most protest ridden provinces in 2013, each accounting for 25% of all protests.

People have moved on beyond just a call for basic services but the ANC as we saw from speakers yesterday is trapped in the rhetoric of the past and denialism. Voters are crying out for a brighter tomorrow and the message that these protestors are sending us is “what got you here will not keep you here”. They are hungry for change that will create jobs.

This province is failing to create the right framework and policy environment that is conducive to job creation. Corruption is costing us jobs. Corruption is a cancer that is eating away at resources that should be there for the up-liftment of the poor.

The R6 million Buffalo City taxi scandal has now ensnared the ECDC to the tune of R250, 000.

Did the Provincial Treasury do a due diligence check to ensure that the company was registered for tax and had the necessary numbers in place?

Was there a tender system in place?

What kind of invoice did the Provincial Treasury receive to pay this money? What action has been taken to ensure this money was properly spent?

It is disgraceful that people would try to profit from the funeral of the greatest South African that ever lived. These are contrary to the values that Nelson Mandela stood for.

When it comes to economic growth and job creation, the Eastern Cape economic growth rate has lagged that of South Africa for all but 4 years in the 17 year period, from 1996 to 2012.

Why are we not making progress in a very important industry namely that of tourism? The Eastern Cape share of both domestic and national tourism is declining. In 2012 there was a 19% decline of bed nights sold to foreign tourists whereas in South Africa as a whole, there was an increase. This costs our province R500 million. These figures tell a sad story.

Yesterday, speakers referred to the Western Cape which has the lowest unemployment rate in South Africa; 12% lower than the national average. In the latest stats SA report, in the last quarter of 2013, the employment gains in the Western Cape were 98,000 jobs out of 141,000 that were created in South Africa; this is 70% of all new jobs. We also celebrate the fact that 38,000 jobs were created in the Eastern Cape.

In terms of health and infrastructure a study in 2012 revealed that fewer than 100 of the over 1,300 facilities meet the requirements of technical norms and standards of a fully functional facility. The Hon Trollip was telling the truth yesterday. The DA built new hospitals in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain.

Safety and security is of paramount important in this province if we are to create the right type of climate to attract investors and create jobs.

Yet we find the efforts of ordinary members of the SAPS are undermined by poor management when it comes to vehicles. Yesterday, the East London Flying squad had only one operating vehicle. There should be 7 operating vehicles. This is a provincial wide problem. Fix it!

There is a leadership vacuum in our country today. People are put into positions because they are connected. It results in a decline of integrity in our public service. The looting of state coffers is on the rise. The barriers between party and state are falling away. This is creating a vacuum into which factions jostle for space, domination and tenders.

We need to rediscover the dream of 1994, when this country was enthused with the spirit of hope and optimism and we were all working together to build a better and united South Africa.

We have a vision for this province of rising opportunity for all – where we can dream of life being better tomorrow because change is taking place today. Together we can bring the same changes that are taking place in the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape.

A DA government will take this province forward to new heights. We will restart progress towards creating a better life for all.