No real plan for KwaZulu-Natal

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP

Leader of the DA in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature

Note: Speech by Hon. Sizwe Mchunu, MPP debate on the KZN State of the Province on 27 June 2014

The divide between what KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu said yesterday and the reality of what is needed to save KZN from spiraling downwards as an economic recession looms – is vast.  In fact, some of the Premier’s comments were as delusional as the utterances by Jacob Zuma, that we are “a nation at work”. Madam Speaker, I feel that yesterday I was subjected to two hours of nothing more than a fabulous fairy tale.

Whilst the Premier acknowledged the King’s speech on Wednesday, that “KZN Deserves Better”, he gave no indication of how or when the King’s proposals would be implemented.

Like each of KZN’s past SOPA’s, the Premier’s speech was big on intentions, but not so big on action.   Again, it did not go beyond talking about “The Plan” that is the Provincial Growth Development Plan (PGDP) which aims to create “a prosperous Province with a healthy, secure and skilled population by 2030”.

This is a plan that everybody knows about already.  It is a plan that is the blueprint for growth and with that, jobs, in KZN. But it is a plan that is bogged down in the ANC’s internal conflicts, red tape, endless committees, and poor management and without it we will stay forever stuck in the doldrums of weak growth and rising unemployment.

Madam Speaker the Premier noted that unemployment is a key challenge in our province, but once again, he could not spell out any actual government interventions.  The people of KZN need JOBS. They need REAL JOBS and they need them NOW. How are you going to create these Hon Premier?

He also referred to hospital renovations, but made no reference to any new hospitals and clinics to deal with the health care accessibility needs of the people of our province.

The Premier must be dreaming if he thinks he has 6 years to reduce poverty by as little as 10%. Unless this percentage is significantly increased, this dream will soon become a nightmare.  Poverty in this province is endemic and it needs special attention.

Yesterday, the Premier presented his ‘wish list’ for KZN.  Many of the promises and ‘commitments’ made today are in fact ‘old news’, having been said many times in recent years. There was little real reflection on the current state of the province or plans for the future.

Promises that were made in 2009 have still not been met.  There was no mention of the Dbn /Pmb express train previously promised. Instead he spoke of air transport and nothing on road and rail transport, which is used by the majority of people in this province.

There can be no doubt that the people of KwaZulu-Natal have been left asking themselves;

–          Is the ANC of today taking KZN forward; and

–          Have we been on the right track in the last 5 years?

There are some aspects of yesterday’s SOPA that the DA welcomes.

We are pleased that the work of the RTI Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of the eight prospective candidates has finally, after 17 months and, being plagued by funding predicaments, been completed. We do hope that this report will bring a sense of closure to the families of the deceased. We look forward to the presentation of this Report to the legislature.

We remain concerned, however, that the Premier glossed over the two critical issues of corruption and job creation. These are the hallmarks of the ANC government’s failures to date.

Yesterday, Premier Mchunu, told us his version of KZN’s story. (It was like a bedtime story. Yawn) But the real story of our province is one of poor leadership – a failure to lead with vision and integrity.

Madam speaker, earlier this year in my response to the SOPA, I told or shared with this house, the real story of KwaZulu-Natal. Unfortunately that story is still relevant today.

It is the story of a province whose potential is being held back by an ANC leadership.

It is a story of a province where real job opportunity does not yet exist.

It is a story of a province in which a select few are enriching themselves at the expense of many.

It is a story of a province in which citizens still live in fear of violent crime.

During the recent election campaign, I travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful province to deliver the DA’s message of hope to the people of KZN. They have invited me into their homes, their schools, their churches, their businesses and – most importantly into their hearts and minds. During this time I witnessed the real story of KZN. It is a story of despair and yearning for change.

Speaker – Given the poor performance records of key departments in this province one cannot help but wonder why it’s ANC-led leadership is not galvanised into taking immediate steps to implement its own PGDP. The Premier need only look to PGDP and the DA-led Western Cape to see how economic transformation can and does take place.

Last year, the province’s performance indicator, the Auditor-General’s report, revealed that the three departments which represent 75% of the total expenditure in the province – Education, Health and Public Works – received qualified audit opinions and financially unqualified opinion with other matters, in that order.

Departments and public entities showed a regression in performance-related matters, mainly related to the non-achievement of planned targets.

Similarly over the three year period 2010- 2013, irregular expenditure continued to spiral at an alarming rate.  The increase is R2 180million calculated over a three year period.  Education alone accounts for R742million in irregular expenditure in the past two years.  The AG also noted his concerns over the R18.98 million clocked up the DOH as a result of failure to comply with supply chain management (SCM).

Madam Speaker, the Youth Wage Subsidy (YWS) is another missed opportunity. Failure to announce the implementation of the Youth Wage Subsidy – a move his predecessor committed to.    Yet the said commitment to implement the Youth Wage Subsidy is yet to be acted upon.  Our youth need real jobs. By implication, the Premier has come to a realization that the multi-million rand Youth Ambassador scheme is a disaster for KZN.  I say that because the Premier’s answer to job creation made no reference or mention of the Youth Ambassadors Programme. Meanwhile, the Office of the Premier persists with this programme at a cost of millions.  These are not real jobs Honourable Premier.  They do not offer any long-term hope to the youth of our province.

The Hon. Premier has also failed to ensure that the KZN Community Safety Bill is tabled and implemented.  This Bill aims to make our province a safer place in which to live and work.  Rather than do the right thing, the Premier has allowed this Bill to gather dust in the Office of the Speaker since it was first submitted by the DA more than a year ago.

Why Honourable Premier is this the case when violent crime continues unabated and so many or our citizens live in fear on a daily basis?

Madam Speaker, increased matric results mean little 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? The rumour that National Government is taking over our FET Colleges, is nothing other than an indication of failure by your administration to improve FET’s as centres of Skills Development for young people.

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.  Honourable Premier – does this 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? The recent media revelations around the HOD of this department and alleged abuse of government resources could just be the tip of an ice-berg…  Failure to act speedily and decisively against her will confirm our views about cadre deployment and its effect on service delivery to people of KZN.

Yet another missed opportunity is the much lauded Agrarian Revolution, announced by your predecessor and on which millions were spent.  Please explain what has happened to this initiative?  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.

Speaker – The promises on slum eradication are also not new.  Successive ANC administrations have said much the same while people have continued to live in squalor.  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.

Yet another missed opportunity is that of service delivery.  This is the biggest issue that struck me when during my travels around KZN.  The delivery of basic sanitation and water within rural areas is at crisis level. Your predecessor, in his final SOPA unashamedly told this house and the public that the ANC-led eThekwini municipality still has areas which use the bucket toilet system.  That is a disgrace.

Honourable Premier – what are you doing to ensure that the promises of your predecessor are upheld?

Corruption and cadre deployment continue to bring our province to its knees, with millions wasted every year.  Inroads to curb this have been made but the time has come for drastic intervention.  The Premier must move his Integrity Unit away from executive control so that it is independent, reporting only to the Legislature.  This will result in greater transparency and accountability from government.

In 1994, South Africa was a country ignited by the prospect of a better future.  This renewed hope was foremost in people’s minds as they formed long queues to vote – many for the first time in their lives. They dreamed of a country that would overcome apartheid; fight injustice and join hands in reconciliation despite hundreds of years of oppression and discrimination.

The hope that the people of this province shared 20 years ago is fading fast. That hope is directly linked to employment and KZN’s story is not a happy one.  From job creation to service delivery, the ANC-led government has broken promises and stolen this hope for a better future.

The recent elections have to an extent confirmed that people of this province are ready for change.  They are tired of being used only when elections are looming. The growth of opposition parties, in particular the Democratic Alliance, which received over half a million votes and emerged as the new official opposition in this legislature, shows this.

Your party, Mr Premier, is paralysed by weak leadership.  It can no longer lead; it can only hang on to power.   It has neither the vision nor the energy nor the policy coherence to drive KZN forward.  It is stuck in the mud – the mud of patronage and cronyism, corruption all of its own making.

My party, the DA, is the only party that has grown from every election since 1994 and is poised to grow even further in the major metropolitan areas across the country in 2016.

The ANC has lost both domestic and international credibility, and with that loss goes the consequence of widespread maladministration by national, provincial and municipal officials.

The tragedy of the ANC in government is that loyalty to Zuma has now become the only characteristic of suitability for high office.  The former Speaker of the NA dared to appoint an ad hoc committee to investigate Nkandla – sorry Max Sisulu there is the door.  But for those members of the ad hoc committee who sabotaged the work of the committee – well done, here’s a deputy ministership.  The same is true of appointments to the KZN cabinet – be loyal supporters of No 1 and nothing else matters.

The DA in the National Assembly is now led by a son of Soweto.  As you might be aware, I was born and raised in Imbali, Pietermaritzburg and I am proud and honoured to lead the DA both in this province and Legislature.

I am not the son of privilege but I am proudly a son of a peasant.  My father was not Number One in the local ANC.  I went to public schools and my family attended the local municipal clinic.

But mine is a party which recognises the value of effort and hard work.  It understands the aspirations of millions of South Africans of all ages and from all communities who want only to make a success of their lives by their own efforts and not through state hand-outs or government tenders.

While the ANC lives the culture of cronyism the DA lives the culture of opportunity and reward for our own efforts.  That is why we now govern by an increased majority in the Western Cape.  That is why we are now the official opposition in six other provinces including KZN and the third party in the other two.  It’s because we have a vision of a future South Africa – a vision which is the only credible alternative to the failures of the Zuma ANC.

It is said the ANC doesn’t have a scrap heap for failed leaders.  They say this with pride – we say it points exactly to their complete inability to hold anyone accountable.  What do they do with failed MECs?  They deploy them to the Legislature.  When officials hold a party at their head office to celebrate the departure of their former MEC then we know there is problem in the provincial government.

This provincial cabinet has seen only 2 new appointments.  The ANC calls this the reward for loyal service – we call it a complete failure to freshen up the provincial administration with new energy and new ideas. It confirms our view that, under your leadership we have seen no plan to rescue our beloved KwaZulu Natal.

Because that is what we want to see in the government of KZN over this next year and over the whole 5 year term of this Legislature – new ideas to get the economy growing again, new ideas to stimulate real and sustainable jobs, new energy to get compliance with the PFMA and MFMA across all provincial departments and municipalities.

Despite the many challenges facing our province there is still much potential – and we in the Democratic Alliance believe in that potential.

Madam speaker, I want to use a bit of my time to remind you and your colleagues, what I said in March this year when we had this debate…

“We simply need a government that has the will to make things happen.”

In the recent election voters showed that they are looking for real change and voted the DA in as the Official Opposition. We have a vision for the future, one which is effective and one which will hold the ANC-led government to account.

We will continue to stand for the people of this province, we will hold the ANC government to account at every opportunity, and we will not cease from using our platforms to demonstrate that we are a party of true leadership, with a vision and a plan for growing this blessed province.

Hi Majesty is correct and we wholeheartedly agree with his sentiments “KwaZulu-Natal Deserves Better”.

I thank you.