SOPA 2014: Premier must restore hope to the people of KZN

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP

Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature

KWAZULU-NATAL today is undoubtedly a better place to live than it was in 1994.  Much has been done to eradicate the inequalities of the past.  We have started to deliver water, electricity and housing.

From 1994 onwards, we made progress. But the problem is that the core challenges we inherited from the past still persist. People are still unemployed. People still live in poverty. Inequality persists.

All the while, the ANC has become increasingly corrupt. President Zuma and his allies are only enriching themselves as the rest of the people are left behind.

The statistics all confirm this picture. KZN unemployment rate has not budged. There are still hundreds of thousands of people locked out of economic opportunity.

On Wednesday, KZN’s Premier, Senzo Mchunu, delivered his State of the Province Address (SOPA).

This SOPA must do two things:  It must show us how the Premier will stop corruption, and it must show us how the Premier will create jobs. Falling short on either of these two objectives will be a failure.

In terms of specifics, the Premier must:

•        Implement the Provincial Growth Development Plan (PGDP)

Despite being adopted in 2012, the plan is yet to be implemented in full with no indication of time-frames, measurable targets or any urgency.  Why is KZN’s leadership stalling on this plan for growth and development in the province?

•         Transform KZN’s economy

Our people desperately need real jobs.  Yet former Premier Mkhize’s commitment to implement the Youth Wage Subsidy in KZN is yet to be seen in action.  The Premier need only look to PGDP and the DA-led Western Cape to see how this is can be done. The social development of our province relies heavily on what the Premier does next.

•         Provide quality teaching and learning

Increased matric results in KZN mean nothing if they don’t translate into quality outcomes.  ANA results still show massive backlogs in getting all primary school learners to achieve proper levels of reading comprehension and numeracy.  Yes we need properly built and maintained schools, but above all we need quality learning and teaching in schools.  What is the Premier doing to bring about professional standards of accountability and curb the power of SADTU?

•         Scrap the Youth Ambassador’s programme

Despite having been in existence for a number of years and millions of rands spent, we are yet to hear one success story.  The Premier must abandon this project which does not offer real opportunity to the youth of KZN.

•         Reassess KZN Health’s leadership

Budget pressures have delayed the building of the much-needed Pixley ka Seme hospital while the accumulation of backlogs in maintaining existing hospitals, many with old infrastructure, have placed huge stress on the department.  Does the Department have the right leadership to cope? Is the Premier satisfied that his MEC and Health HOD have the confidence of key stakeholders such as the unions and health professionals?

•         Revitalise KZN’s agricultural potential

What has happened to KZN’s Agrarian Revolution?  The PGDP identifies the KZN agricultural sector as a key component of job creation in the province.  Yet, in its Annual Report for 2012/13, the AgriBusiness Development Agency reveals that province’s agriculture department has failed to meet 50% of its planned targets.  What is the Premier doing about this massive leadership failure?

•         Improve RDP houses

KZN’s RDP housing process is fraught with irregularities. Houses remain incomplete or are being demolished because of shoddy work. Housing lists are controversial, with various lists doing the rounds. What is the Premier doing to ensure that housing does not become an electioneering tool?

•         Provide decent sanitation

Sanitation and water delivery are one of KZN’s greatest crises.  What is the Premier doing to ensure that the promises of his predecessor are upheld?

•         Eradicate corruption

The Premier’s Integrity Unit must be moved away from executive control and become independent, reporting only to the Legislature.  This will result in greater transparency and accountability from government.

•         Get rid of underperforming civil servants

Directly linked to cadre deployment, this scourge threatens to bring our province to its knees.

•         Implement the KZN Community Safety Bill

In June last year the DA submitted the KZN Community Safety Bill to the office of the Speaker.  To date it is still sitting there, not having been tabled in the provincial legislature.  This Bill seeks to make KZN a safer province for all.  Why has the Premier not acted to ensure that it is tabled and implemented?  The DA also expects the Premier to reinstate the province’s anti-drug units, inexplicably shut down last year.

•         Upgrade our transport network

Despite the massive burden on KZN’s roads and the many promises of upgrading our road and rail network, there is little evidence to suggest that plans are being carried through.  The Premier must tell the people what has happened to the much-publicised Durban/Pietermaritzburg business express train and the revitalisation of the rail infrastructure throughout KZN.

We live in an incredibly beautiful province with enormous potential. We can provide the opportunity for a great life for every one of our citizens if we get the basics right.

The DA will fight to end corruption in this province and create jobs so that people will have access to economic opportunity.

We can restore Madiba’s dream for South Africa. That is what the DA will fight for in this election.