DA Limpopo response on SOPA

Jacques Smalle (MPL)

DA Limpopo Leader

Note: This is the speech delivered by the DA Leader, Honourable Jacques Smalle (MPL) responding to the State of the Province Address (SOPA).

Madam Speaker, Hon Premier, Mecs, fellow members, heads of departments, ladies and gentleman, before we can talk about the future of our province, we need an honest assessment of what we have achieved in the past term, and where we are today.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

The AG has even indicated that while the province was under administration the financial management and handling of affairs in the Province, especially that of the departments of Education and Health, was shocking.

During the financial years 2011/12 and 2012/13:

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure under the department of Education went from R95 million to R106m.

Irregular Expenditure of the department of Health skyrocketed from R73 million to R718 million and the total irregular expenditure in the Province passed the R2 billion mark up with 192%

Underexpenditure in the department of education went from R81million to R1 billion.

Unauthorized expenditure in the province went from R175million to R324million.

Hon Premier you believe we should uplift the administration. Before we do that, let’s openly and honestly discuss the report on the administration in this House. Convince us that the province is ready to run its own affairs. Convince us that this is an administration capable of managing its money, of creating jobs for its people, and of stamping out corruption.

We are not yet convinced.

We heard your cries for help to tackle corruption head-on and that you are serious to strengthen government administration. It’s not enough just to talk. You need to take action.

Let’s once and for all cut out the  cancer of corruption from our province. Let’s stop officials and politicians from doing business with the state. We did it in the Western Cape – and  that’s why there’s no corruption in that province.

Let’s be frank Mr Premier, the system as it is now is creating tenderpreneurs, why not get rid of the ills that gives government and politicians a bad reputation? Let’s take real action and stop corruption.

The word I did not want to hear was “turnaround strategy “. I am not sure how many of those plans we had, but almost all of them failed.

We welcome the desperately needed R145m towards replacing and repairing critical equipment at our state hospitals.

What you should have said though is that we will no longer allow inferior, low-quality coal for our boilers, which was responsible for most of the damage caused by a company linked to a former executive member of this House.

I welcome that we will be able to move away from the notion that some of our state hospitals like Ga-Gkapane and Maphuta Malatsi Hospital be labelled as morgues. Our people should be visiting first class, state of the art hospitals.

Then we come to the most important issue of all:  JOBS. Honourable Premier, everything we do must be geared towards creating more jobs.

The previous MEC for Agriculture indicated that her department will be creating 300 000 new permanent jobs by 2019. The problem is, as with many other programmes, there is no plan to actually achieve these ambitious targets.

Can the department of Agriculture turnaround the situation where 73% of once-productive land has become unproductive in the province. Yes, but only if the province commits  to the NDP. The problem is, that the national government has no will to implement the NDP – I worry that the province will have the will to do so.

Speaker, the only province currently implementing the NDP is the Western Cape. That is why the Western Cape’s unemployment rate is the lowest and the rate of economic growth is the highest.

It was encouraging Hon Premier that you made reference to the NDP repeatedly. Using the NDP as a so called blue print will create policy certainty not only among investors but amongst the citizens of Limpopo as well.

The dream of a better life can only be achieved when all our people are lifted out of poverty. As long poverty exists for 77% of the children  of our province, we are not fully free.Like the youth of 1976, the youth of 2014 also face a failing education system. Our education system is failing in capacitating learners to become successful and productive individuals within an increasingly knowledge-based economy.

The WEF’s 2013 Global Information Technology report placed South Africa 4th last out of 144 countries in terms of its education system.  We come in second last in terms of Mathematics and Science education.

Unemployment rate of students with a degree in South Africa is currently at around 5%, it is a clear indication that something at a basic education level is seriously wrong. We must be seen that we are more worried about the quality of learners we put through school, than the number of learners we put through school.

Educational opportunities are limited; there are too few jobs, and not enough service delivery. We must address these shortcomings.

So one will hope and expect that the province will meet its targets and would tackle the major backlogs with some degree of urgency. We need to be seen as a government serious about creating opportunities, jobs, attracting investment, building good schools and a functional Local Government.

A responsible government that wants to serve all its people, wants to be hold accountable and take action against those who deserted the values of our guiding principles the Constitution of SA.