Magashule’s term a failure

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

Free State Provincial Legislature

The DA acknowledges that much has been done to eradicate the inequalities of the past under previous governments in the Free State, but much still has to be done and could have been done, especially on an economic level. Since Premier Ace Magashule assumed office in 2009, corruption and poor governance in the Free State have increased exponentially.

During his term of office Premier Ace Magshule made some key promises which he must report on at the end of his five year electoral term, these include the following:

  • Civil servants who do not serve the public must seek employment elsewhere. The province needs to know how many have been dismissed for poor service delivery.
  • Turn-around strategy for the Provincial Department of Health. Healthcare in the Free State is at an all-time low with critical staff shortages, infrastructure problems, and  administrative and financial mismanagement.
  • Economic transformation with decent jobs for our people. The latest labour market trends released towards the end of last year by Statistics South Africa paint a dismal picture of the Free State’s economy. Currently unemployment in the Free State is at 34% which is an increase of 10,5% from the 2003 statistics of 23,5%. The expanded definition of unemployment shows an increase from 36,2% in 2003 to 41,2% in 2013.
  • Rural development and food security. Controversial, failed and incomplete projects are the hallmark of his term of office. The Hlasela flagship project at Diyatalawa Agri Village is fraught with controversial cattle deals. The Vrede Dairy Project is an embarrassment. The Xariep Fish Hatchery appears to be a project deferred. All other projects remain unsustainable.
  • Good affordable education. The increase in the matric pass rates are commendable, but the drop-out rate at schools is cause for concern.
  • The increase in the matric pass rates are commendable, but the drop-out rate at schools is cause for concern. The Roads department was put under administration shortly after he took over, it subsequently improved, but the last few months has seen a gradual decline in road maintenance due to budget cuts.
  • Improved RDP houses. The RDP housing developments are fraught with irregularities. Houses remain incomplete or are being demolished because of shoddy work. Housing lists are controversial, with various lists doing the rounds.
  • Greater development in the Xariep District. The Xariep Fish Hatchery project is not operational with no sign of aquatic life in it.
  • Removal of politicians and officials who do not do their work. This is politically driven and redeployments of poor senior officials continue.
  • Decent sanitation. Sanitation and water delivery has become one of the provinces greatest crises.
  • Eradication of corruption and crime. Serious crimes continue unabated and corruption has become endemic with unresolved questions around the Letlaka contracts, the R342 million Vrede Dairy Project, and various other issues. The MEC for Health remains in his position regardless of corruption charges against him.
  • Bursaries for young people. Many bursaries have been awarded, but we need to know how many of these beneficiaries have completed their studies successfully within the allocated time frames.
  • New police stations and improved policing. None of these promises have been met.
  • More transparency and accountability in government. The Magashule administration has become an example of a manipulative closed crony driven government and administration.

The Free State has the resources and willing skilled people to move out of the current poverty and service delivery trap. What is required is the political will and a government that is transparent and geared towards creating opportunities for all the people of the province.

While the objectives of Operation Hlasela are not the issue, what is problematic is that Hlasela appears to be a means of centralising government functions and by-passing tender procedures aimed at a political instead of a service delivery agenda. This political agenda appears to be personal and not even party political.

  • Hlasela has not opened up government for the people, but concentrated government in the Office of the Premier.
  • Hlasela does not create opportunities for all, but emphasises dependence on the Premier.
  • Hlasela does not build on the democratic concept of government in the general interest (government for all), but emphasises the concept of government for the party, particularly the well connected few within the ruling faction of the party.
  • The Free State provincial government has, under the pretext of Operation Hlasela, become a multi-billion rand state sponsored election machine run by the Office of the Premier.

The Premier should reply honestly to the above issues in his State of the Province Address, particularly around the growing poverty and unemployment in the province.