Reply to Sopa address: Creating a business friendly province

Bobby Stevenson (MPL)

Shadow MEC for Finance

Note: The debate on Premier Phumulo Masualle’s State of the Province Address resumes today in the Bhisho Legislature. (Wednesday, 2 July 2014). Below is the speech by DA Shadow MEC for Finance, Bobby Stevenson.

The Hon Premier correctly identified the economy and job creation as a key issue.

1.32 million people who are unemployed in this province which is almost as many people that voted for the ANC would agree.

Young people are especially hard hit and a dream of a better life for all has been replaced by a better life for a connected elite.

The world economic forum global competitiveness report 2013 – 14 highlights the problematic factors for doing business in South Africa which are more than applicable to our province.

These include:

  1. An inadequately educated workforce;
  2. Inefficient bureaucracy;
  3. Corruption;
  4. Poor work ethic;
  5. Inadequate infrastructure;
  6. Crime; and
  7. Policy instability

In the context of a declining economy and a subsequent shrinking fiscal base we need to do everything in our power to create the right climate for economic growth otherwise our equitable share will continue to shrink.

The Western Cape Government has risen to this challenge and in the last year 70% of all new jobs created in South Africa were created in the Western Cape. In the last year we have lost 61,000 jobs.

Education is the foundation of opportunity in life and ensuring our learners are fit for a globally competitive economy is a key priority. Take off the gloves and deal with the mediocrity you speak of and give it a knock – out blow so that our learners are not condemned to low skilled jobs.

A business friendly province needs to have an efficient bureaucracy. If one has to wait months or even years for rezoning or EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessments) or businesses are not paid within 30 days, investors go elsewhere.

I would like to challenge the premier to investigate how red tape can be reduced so it is easier to do business in this province.

Your policy of cadre deployment which results in and I quote an ANC spokesperson: “Clueless” and “lazy comrades” being placed in senior government positions must stop.

Get rid of the practice once and for all.

Business does not want to invest in an environment where corruption is the order of the day.

I welcome the initiative to clamp down on corruption but would like to know when is this legislation going to be introduced?

When are public office bearers facing serious fraud and corruption charges going to be relieved of their duties? You need to make public examples of some, Hon Premier. Buffalo City beckons.

Corruption and factionalism drive people out of this province so we become an exporter of skills. We want to retain our people.

The infrastructure led growth that the premier is referring to will only pay dividends if procurement practices give real value for money and not line the pockets of tender-preneurs through overpricing.

Can the premier tell us what percentage of state enterprise capital budgets are to be spent in the Eastern Cape? About two years ago the figure was a measly 2%.

Crime is another deterrent to business. In our province we have major problems with our 10111 Centers and flying squads. These were highlighted in a report tabled in this Provincial Legislature.

There is of course one overarching factor and that is leadership and there are two types of leadership prevalent in this province – One that will take this province forward and the other that will continue to drain it of much needed resources.

The one type of leadership culture is entitled: Leaders eat last.

This is about sacrificial leadership, the kind of leadership espoused by former President Nelson Mandela.

The other kind of leadership culture is best entitled under the heading: It’s my turn to eat.

Where people are in positions of power and manipulate that power to reward themselves, friends, family and faction, resources that are there for the betterment of everyone are used for the betterment for themselves.

Corruption is the thief of opportunity.

What this province needs is a leadership culture that truly puts the people first and themselves last.  In that way we can restart a better life for all and ensure the Eastern Cape is a business friendly province that will attract investors and create jobs.

We want to see a province of rising opportunity for all the people.