Gauteng deserves a better story

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

Summary extract of Speech by Jack Bloom MPL in State of the Province debate on 28 February 2014

The Honourable Premier has told us many good things about Gauteng, and we agree that Gauteng is a better place to live in.

But if we are capable of reaching the stars, and we only reach the moon, then we have achieved something, but it is not the best that we are capable of.

I can’t deal with all the failed promises as I would keep you here all day, but let me start with job creation.

According to Stats SA, there are nearly two million unemployed people in this province. This is 600 000 more than when the Honourable Premier came into office.

Two years ago the Honourable Premier promised that six Township Enterprise Hubs would be built.

This has been scaled down to only two, one in Winterveldt that has only recently started functioning, and one in Mohlakeng that is to be launched shortly.

In 2009, the Honourable Premier promised “the revitalisation of Ekandustria” and she also said she would “rehabilitate the Babelegi Industrial Park”.

Unemployment is desperately high in these areas, but these are yet more failed promises.

Many jobs are dependent on companies that do business with the provincial government, but late payments are still an enormous problem.

Madam Premier, this is not a good story.

The Honourable Premier claims credit for dismantling the failed Gauteng Shared Services Centre and for rationalising the economic development agencies.

This was very necessary. But the Honourable Premier should reflect on why the same ruling party that has ruled this province since 1994 should be praised for digging itself out of its own mess.

If you dig a ten foot hole, and then fill it up by half, is this really progress?

The Honourable Premier said in 2009 that there must be no more “embarrassing stories” in the provincial administration.

Here is a small sample of embarrassing stories of the past five years:

  • Male patients had to wear nighties at George Mukhari Hospital because of a linen shortage.
  • Surgeons finishing operations by cellphone light after generators failed at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
  • Food shortages in hospitals because of non-payment of suppliers
  • Broken radiation machines delaying treatment for cancer patients
  • Medical negligence claims that total more than R1 billion
  • Broken lifts at hospitals, with dead bodies, food and patients sometimes in the same lift

Another failed promise is that essential medicines would be available to patients 98% of the time.

The figure now given is 89%, which means that one in ten essential medicines are not delivered to patients.

Last year I pledged R10 000 to the ANC’s election campaign if 98% availability was achieved, but my money is safe.

The Honourable Premier made a huge blunder by creating a new Infrastructure Development Department.

This department has been a continuing disaster. There is not a single large project that has been delivered anywhere near budget or on time.

The two worst examples are the Jabulani Zola and New Natalspruit hospitals, both years overdue, and costs have doubled or tripled.

This is really an embarrassing story.

The major reason for failure is an incompetent administration that is full of cronies and prone to corruption at all levels.

The vacancy rate at senior management level is a whopping 24%, and other vacancies are 10 percent.

But three years ago the Honourable Premier promised to fill all vacant posts within six months.

This is another embarrassing story.

According to the last four annual Auditor-General reports, there was an astounding R11 billion in irregular expenditure over four years. Unauthorized expenditure was R5.5 billion and fruitless and wasteful spending was R1.6 billion.

Now, is that a good story to tell?

Then there is the corporate credit card saga. It took 50 days for former MEC Humphrey Mmemezi to resign after media exposure of his credit card abuse.

The Honourable Premier also splurged R30 000 on her card on one day when she was overseas in Milan, Italy.

Then there was the R1.2 million spent on new furniture for the official Premier’s residence in Bryanston, and the R574 000 spent on repairing the swimming pool there.

That’s a lot of money to spend on a swimming pool, Madam Premier, or is it perhaps a fire pool?

Yes, it’s an embarrassing story.

I have one more story to tell. It’s about the imposition of e-tolls on our highways.

It’s not a good story at all as there is a mass boycott of e-tags and large numbers are not paying the e-tolls.

A better story in Gauteng would be a new provincial government, one that really serves the people with efficiency and clean administration.

Madam Speaker, last year I outlined the DA’s alternative State of the Province.

This included three private members bills:

  • The Gauteng Business Interests of Employees Bill will prevent civil servants enriching themselves through state contracts.
  • The Reduction of Red Tape Bill will assist small businesses to create real jobs, not temporary work opportunities.
  • The Community Safety Bill will assist oversight over the police so that they effectively tackle the high crime that still makes people fearful in this province.

We will also adopt a “no frills”  Ministerial Handbook to cut down on all unnecessary perks. This means no Italian handbags or R1 million official cars, and no fire pools!

And blue lights will be outlawed so that people are not terrified by arrogant politicians who can’t plan their diaries so as not to rush to meetings.

When we are in government, all these things will happen.

This will enable the next chapter in Gauteng to be an even better story.

A story where we return to the founding values of our democracy.

A story where promises made are promises kept.

A story where every person has the opportunity to be the best that they can be.

A story where politicians serve the people, not themselves.

Madam Speaker, this will be the best story ever told.