State of the province address a costly handing over of the baton

Athol Trollip MPL

Leader of the official opposition in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature

The newly appointed Premier of the Eastern Cape, Phumulo Masualle, will deliver his State of the Province address in the Legislature in Bhisho today (27 June 2014).

The Democratic Alliance does not anticipate much change in this State of the Province Address, as all that is happening is the subsequent handing over of the ANC-baton from Noxolo Kiviet to Phumulo Masualle.

It is however, an important opportunity for the new premier to outline his vision for the province and to provide a framework for his executive members to frame their policy proposal thereon.

The DA believes that the premier must concentrate on the following key issues:

Dwindling equitable share allocation:  This is a matter of concern as it compromises our ability to deal with the myriad challenges that this province faces.  This is caused primarily by rapid urbanisation and mass exodus of people from this province to other provinces that provide better employment opportunities, such as the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Rising unemployment, especially amongst the youth as well as related poverty and socio-economic challenges.  In this regard the premier will have to highlight how he intends to create an environment that will stimulate economic investment and growth.  Growth is based on confidence and certainty, which are in turn based on:

  • a professional and competent public service;
  • a corruption-free society;
  • reliable energy provision; and
  • reliable and regularly maintained infrastructure.

The parlous state of local government in the province requires urgent attention as highlighted by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address, the embarrassing arrest of senior Buffalo City Metro officials and elected ANC office bearers along with the number of outstanding forensic audit reports such as the Kabuso- and Pikoli reports in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro are testimony to collapsing local government in the province.

Education remains a matter of grave concern and embarrassment for this province, despite national government intervention.  The issue of vacant posts and excess/surplus teachers will require political will to go against Sadtu to find a resolution.    The issues around mud schools, poor school infrastructure and dignified sanitation provision will also have to be addressed.

Agriculture, rural development and tourism remain the areas with the highest potential to create job in a relatively short space of time.  This potential however is seriously compromised by the government’s ambiguous policy positions that create less certainly and confidence than which is required to stimulate this sector.  The latest policy proposals on land reform that proposed 50% expropriation without compensation are catastrophic.

If these issues are not adequately addressed, we will be destined to remain on the current trajectory that continues to result in deepening state dependency, a constant outflow of people from this province and pervasive poverty.