Premier’s ambitions need a capable government to succeed

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Note: The following address was made by Anthony Benadie MPL, DA Provincial Leader to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature on 1 July 2014, during the debate on the Premier’s 2014 State of the Province Address.

Honourable Speaker, the DA notes the state of the province address as delivered on Friday. This address is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious governments plans yet and both the Premier and his government will have their work cut out for them even if only a fraction of the set targets are to be achieved.

While we remain concerned at many of the announcements, especially those which were merely a re-hash of previous SOPA’s we are indeed pleased that this SOPA contained many DA policy proposals and it is pleasing that government has embarked, in some aspects, on a direction which we can support in principle.

Hon Speaker, we welcome in particular:

  • The provincial government’s commitment to the implementation of the National Development Plan, which contains many proposals that are supported across party political lines, and if implemented correctly can go a long way in edging our provincial economic growth to the mentioned 5% mark.
  • Coupled to that is governments commitment to infrastructure spending, across all government sectors,
  • And the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s), which the DA has called for years ago,
  • The acknowledgement that school principals are the managers of their schools and should be held accountable for what happens under their watch, especially in under-performing schools. That said, it is also important that principals in good performing schools are recognised, rewarded and granted greater autonomy to manage their education institutions.
  • So too Hon Speaker, we welcome the acknowledgement that our province is in a health crisis and it is encouraging that government will place greater emphasis on the core leadership of health facilities, provide them with sufficient support and to hold them to account accordingly.

However Hon Premier, the real test of creating a better Mpumalanga does not lie in your ability to deliver a speech filled with political jargon and rhetoric aimed at soothing the ears of every listener, but rather in the ability of your administration to execute and implement the policy announcements you have made.

It is in this light that we firmly believe that you have over-estimated the competence of your executive and administration, and while you may be committed to achieving objectives set out in your SOPA, the question is are they?

And as it stands, the answer is a clear NO!

It is a clear no, because as we speak, hundreds of house resolutions taken during the previous term remain unimplemented, due to the tendency of your government to merely ignore and undermine the resolutions of this house.

While it is bold for you to have diagnosed several government short comings, the real question is why you have allowed it to happen. It is under your watchful eye that our health department descended into virtual collapse because you were too busy settling political scores with your opponents rather than focussing on the health of our citizens.

It is under your leadership that our education system today remains one of the most unequal in the world, where the quality of education afforded to urban learners is in stark contrast to the poor quality education afforded to rural learners. Hon Premier, what will your government be doing to eradicate the inequalities in our education system. It is under your leadership that our performance in the Annual National Assessment remains minimal and is in fact deteriorating.

Hon Premier, you must be held accountable for the chaos you have allowed to develop at the MTPA and MEGA. While you have set an ambitious target of creating 390 000 jobs by 2019, how on earth are you going to attain that with a current growth rate of less than 2% and an entity (MEGA) tasked with facilitating economic growth, in complete disarray.

So too, how are we going to comprehensively market Mpumalanga as a top tourist destination when the MTPA is embroiled in its own civil war and tourism facilities and parks in our province continue to fall apart?

Over the past five years you have spoken extensively about the supply of bulk water infrastructure, the establishment of the university, the cultural hub, the Moloto rail corridor, the fresh produce market, the high altitude sport centre and many more, yet today, years after making these announcements, we still have very little to show for it.

Hon Premier what will be different this time? Where are the indicators that your executive and administration will awake from this SOPA and go out to implement a single one of the announcements you have made.

Your previous actions (or lack thereof) speak louder than your words. While it is clear that you are desperate to portray yourself as the new saviour of our provinces despair, when in fact you are the very cause of our province’s poor state.

Hon Speaker, while we in the DA are as committed as ever to see our province grow and our people prosper, and while we will be there to support where support is to be given, we will not be fooled by fanfare speeches, we are watching your every move, we will conduct our oversight over your government and we will be there to hold you and your government to account, because you have made the promises you have, and the real test will lie in your ability implement these and truly bring about a better life for all.