Budget Vote Debate: Premier Magashule’s Operation Hlasela a smokescreen for questionable practises

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature

Note: This is an extract of a speech delivered by the Leader of the Official Opposition, Roy Jankielsohn, during the Budget Votes debate in the Free State Provincial Legislature yesterday evening.

Honourable Speaker,

Speaker, the Free State invests increasing amounts of money in the office of the premier every year. This office has failed in its task of building the capacity and competencies of our provincial government. Honourable Magashule and his Operation Hlasela have not improved the lives or livelihood of our people over the last five years. Our people are poorer and more dependent than they have ever been since 1994.

Operation Hlasela was meant to “attack historic social ills and fast track service delivery to the people”.

Speaker, let us look at Hlasela in more detail.

The delivery of health care services in the province have collapsed under Hlasela. The Premier must immediately replace MEC Maloakane who continues to abuse his position to benefit himself or his cronies in every instance that he has been given authority.

In 2013, members of the NCOP expressed their concerns over various failed projects.

There was specific criticism towards the Operation Hlasela flagship, the Dyatalawa Agri-Village Project between Harrismith and Kestell. This R150 million project has been burdened with controversial cattle deals and questions over nepotism with contracts.

A certain Mr Moloi was not only responsible for purchasing the sick cattle that had to be replaced at Diyatalawa, but his company, Kamsherai, also received a R250 000 monthly contract from the provincial government for the following:

  • Providing planning support for Operation Hlasela.
  • Liaison with other departments on project requirements for Operation Hlasela.
  • Monitoring and providing support in overall planning and implementation of Hlasela projects completion.
  • Providing advice in consultation with other stakeholders on possible solutions to projects bottlenecks.
  • Providing monthly quarterly and annual reports to the department on individual project performance whenever required to do so.

This company was awarded this lucrative contract illegally whilst according to the former MEC: “paper work was to be finalized later”. The lucrative contract commenced on 2 November 2009 and was to run until April 2014.

The Vrede Dairy Project is another project that only benefited a company called ESTINA and their friends in the provincial government. By cancelling the contract, ESTINA appears to have milked the taxpayers and is now allowed to walk away without any penalties. The inflation of prices of goods and services provided to the project as well as possible irregularities with the appointment of ESTINA are common knowledge.

At the Maluti Dairy Project the cattle were sold under the auspices of the former mayor of the Maluti-a Phofung municipality and all that is left is a ruin. This former mayor, Dr Mzangwa, has now been appointed into a senior position in the Department of Health.

The VKB chicken project that was opened by President Zuma himself has beneficiaries that include a Mafube councillor, a sister of Honourable MEC Ntombela, and another politically connected individual.

The Xariep Fish hatchery was launched with much fanfare and to date no fish have hatched from this project.

In 2011, R263 million for housing was re-allocated away from the Free State Provincial Government that could have built 4000 houses. Controversy over Hlasela housing projects include shoddy work that requires the destruction and rebuilding of houses, the disappearance of millions of rands worth of building material, the selling of RDP houses and stands by councillors, and the lack of sewerage, water and electricity infrastructure for such projects across the province.

Then we also have the 23 controversial roads contracts that have left our roads infrastructure crippled.

At the same time allegations of corruption surround municipal property deals, rental agreements with the provincial government, and the notorious Letlaka communications contracts. I have named and shamed these individuals previously in this legislature.

Speaker, these are but a few of the controversies surrounding what sounded like a good methodology, namely Hlasela. The result of Hlasela is that the Free State now has the poorest and most dependent population in the country.

Hlasela was merely a smokescreen to centralise power, bypass tender procedures, award controversial contracts, and make the Honourable Magashule look like Father Christmas while he dispersed patronage and created dependency.

Speaker, any Premier is as good as the people he gathers around him. In this respect the executive committee is starting to resemble an episode of ‘Police File’.