SOPA 2: An expensive rehash

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

Today’s State of the Province Address (SOPA) was a pricey disappointment, as it was an almost exact replication of Premier Sylvia Lucas’s first SOPA in February this year. The only difference this time round was that John Block and Alvin Botes were actually seated on stage and not in court.

The DA is of the view that, considering Lucas didn’t have any real “game-changing” announcements to make to the people of the Northern Cape, she should have rather just presented her speech via a standard House Sitting.

Instead, however, she again chose the glamorous route with estimates suggesting that the legislature has had to cough up in the region of R1,6 million for this senseless parade.

Lucas could rather have used this money towards setting up a business incubator in one the province’s poorer towns. Unlike her speech, this would have at least given the unemployed some hope towards a better future in the Northern Cape.

The DA is concerned that Lucas continues to blame the global economic recession for poor socio-economic progress in this province. She should rather reflect on her own administration’s failure to optimise state resources.

In this regard, the ongoing absence of a workable provincial government plan to root out corruption and grow jobs within the next five years is worrying.

Lucas made sweeping statements about the province becoming the solar energy hub of the country, yet the only so-called energy achievements she could mention were electrification connections by Eskom.

Lucas attempted to deceive the public by overstating government successes. In this regard, she mischievously referred to the new mental hospital as a positive whilst in reality the facility is on the verge of yet another crisis.  She also rehashed old commitments of appointing qualified staff to municipalities and ensuring consequences for poor performance, with new vigour. We, however, suspect this is just a ruse to try and create confidence in the ANC government ahead of the looming 2016 local government elections.

Lucas further chattered on about how provincial government has aligned itself with the NDP, without even a hint as to how, in practical terms, this will be realised.  In the same vein, an overstated focus on the establishment of working groups and ministerial committees at this late stage in the game, is unacceptable.

Probably the only positive in Lucas’s entire speech are the significantly improved targets for the appointment of a large contingent of health care professionals. Aside from this single ray of sunshine, however, it looks as if it will be business as usual for the Northern Cape government in the next five years. This is a depressing thought, as it means that poverty and unemployment levels will continue to spike, while fat cat politicians will get even richer.