DA debate on SOPA Northern Cape

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader:

The province has its positives and indeed, life is better than it was 21 years ago. The Democratic Alliance cautions against complacency. It is not enough to simply say that things are better now than before. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard than the apartheid government. Overcoming the apartheid legacy of inequality is like climbing a mountain – you must rest halfway, admire the view and see how far you’ve come. Then you must take a deep breath and climb the mountain to the top. You cannot remain sitting halfway up the mountain.

 

We have indeed come a long way. Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go.

 

The Democratic Alliance centred our 2014 election campaign around the theme “Together for Change, Together for Jobs”. To address poverty and inequality, we must ensure that we give the youth an opportunity for work experience and that we give every adult the chance to work. The unemployment statistics must set alarm bells ringing. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, the Northern Cape recorded the highest increase in unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2014. The expanded unemployment rate in the Northern Cape stands at 38%, which is four percent higher than the national average. While the quarter-to-quarter figures show gains of 18 000, the year-to-year statistics reveal losses of 9 000. Effectively, we have fewer people in employment now than we did in 2013.

 

The Survey also shows that the Northern Cape offers the worst job security in the country – the average worker here is employed for 27 months while the South African standard is 47 months.

 

Clearly we need to increase the amount and the duration of jobs in the province.

 

The premier mentioned in her statement that 18 000 job opportunities will be created through working with business and civil society. It is a promise than sounds better than it actually is. If this target is met, it will provide opportunities for only 5% of the unemployed people in the province. The Democratic Alliance believes that we must set our sights higher if we are to make a meaningful difference. It is no wonder that where we govern, the province has the lowest unemployment rate and the lowest number of discouraged job seekers in the country.

Furthermore, no clear indication was given as to how 18 000 jobs will be created. The specifics in the premier’s speech provides for just 6

850 job opportunities, which is a mere 38% of the job creation target.

According to the premier’s address, 1 500 temporary jobs will be generated in the construction phase of the new zinc mine at Gamsberg, with 500 permanent positions once it goes into operation. Fifty temporary jobs will be created through the development of the N14 in Postmasburg and 4 800 permanent jobs will be created through the River Valley Basin Catalytic Project.

So where, how and at what cost will the remaining 11 150 jobs of the 18 000 promised be created?

The Democratic Alliance believes that job opportunities created through the Expanded Public Works Programme is instrumental in alleviating poverty, but should not be the only means available to destitute people. We are concerned about the feasibility of the provincial job creation goals; in the previous cycle, the provincial government failed to meet 24% of its intended target. The premier gave no indication on how the shortfall will be addressed nor how provincial departments will improve their job creation programmes.

We must also consider the sustainability of EPWP opportunities. For participants to remain economically active, there must be a transfer of skills. We urge the provincial government to adopt the Western Cape’s internship model, which has seen the creation of 18 000 opportunities for the youth. Our youth needs to be equipped with knowledge and skills.

The Democratic Alliance appreciates the premier’s assurance that, “no child shall be prevented from learning”. Ongoing school shutdowns in the province proves that our children have become the soft targets for disgruntled community members. We are now in the sixth week on the school calendar and learning has already been disrupted in Kgatelopele and Dikgatlong due to violent community protests. The premier’s commitment must translate into an implementable contingency plan that can keep schools open when communities protest.

We welcome the honourable premier’s honesty on the mental health hospital. When construction started in September 2005, the promise was that the hospital would open its doors in December 2007 and would cost

R290 million to complete. A much-needed hospital which should have been operational already is now in its tenth year of construction and costs are escalating to more than five times the original estimate.

Too many construction and capital projects in the province are not completed on time and within budget. It is for this reason that the Democratic Alliance will be conducting our own oversight in the province.

As members of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, we have a collective responsibility to hold the executive to account. We cannot accept indefinite postponements of projects and delays in service delivery. The oversight responsibility of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature must be taken much more seriously. You’ll see in the

2013/14 Annual Report from the Legislature that only two oversight visits were held during the previous financial year – and both of them to Namaqua. Where are the oversight visits to the rest of the province?

To address the shortcomings of the Legislature’s current oversight model, the Democratic Alliance caucus will be launching our own oversight programme in 2015. We will be visiting construction sites, infrastructure development initiatives and public buildings to determine if and how departments are delivering on their mandates.

We will also monitor the public entities.

It is no exaggeration to describe the current Foetal Alcohol Syndrome rate in the province as an epidemic. If we want to end this epidemic, we must improve oversight and compliance monitoring by the Northern Cape Liquor Board. In its engagements with the Legislature in 2014, the Liquor Board frankly admitted that it falls short of the industry standards on compliance visits and needs an additional R2 million to meet industry requirements. While the Liquor Board knows it cannot enforce compliance, it still distributes liquor licenses freely – in the past two financial years, 1 004 liquor licenses were approved by the Liquor Board.

Poor monitoring of outlets and lax compliance measures make it far too easy for minors to obtain alcohol. The National Youth Risk Survey shows that Northern Cape learners are the most likely to drink alcohol on school premises during school hours, with one in five learners participating in sexual activities after drinking. The District Health Barometer of 2014 also indicates that the Northern Cape has the highest incidence of teenage pregnancies.

If we are to address the scourge of teenage pregnancies and FAS in the province, Honourable Speaker, the Liquor Board must be capacitated to perform its monitoring and enforcement tasks.

To further prevent FAS, the Democratic Alliance will table a Private Member’s Bill this year to provide for regulations that will prohibit the sale of alcohol to pregnant women. FAS has no cure, but it is entirely preventable.

I invite the honourable premier to be factual in her reply and to give informed answers on the concerns we have raised. We must climb this mountain together and overcome the challenges facing this province.

The Democratic Alliance wishes to hear the premier report on the current progress of the Bucket Eradication Programme; clarity on the costs of job creation in the province; how the provincial government intends to strengthen its planning functions in the Office of the Premier and whether or not any new posts have been approved by the Provincial Treasury; contingency measures that can ensure learning continues despite community upheavals; practical steps on how cost containment instructions from National Treasury will be implemented, especially as it relates to consultancy reduction plans as well as the accelerated delivery of title deeds.

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ANC blocks DA motion on proposed demarcation of EC municipalities

Kobus Botha (MPL)

Shadow MEC for Human Settlements:

The ANC in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday (Subs:  24 Feb) ran scared to call the Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan, to account for the gerrymandering of municipal boundaries for political gain in his current section 26 notices to amalgamate ten Eastern Cape municipalities into four larger municipalities and joining one with the Buffalo City Metro.

That means the ANC was agreeing that they cannot manage municipalities and they want to take local government away from the people.

The proposed amalgamations are Great Kei with Buffalo City Metro, Ikwezi with Camdeboo and Baviaans, Gariep with Maletswai, Nxuba with Nkonkobe and Inkwanca with Tsolwana and Lukhanji.

The motion without notice from the DA consisted of several points for accountability to the National Council of Provinces, where local government and provincial matters must be raised. The DA called on the House for a debate at which Minister Gordhan must inform the people of the Eastern Cape of the following:

  1. What assistance was provided by the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs to these struggling municipalities?
  2. What cooperation was received from these municipalities in this regard?
  3. What was the role of the Auditor General in alerting the MEC and what advice was given to these municipalities?
  4. What role did SALGA fulfil in support of local councillors with the process of their responsibilities to manage municipalities?
  5. What was the role of the National Treasury?
  6. What is the effectiveness of local government legislation in terms of the Constitutional imperatives on local governance?
  7. Which local municipalities were declared financially nonviable and lacking credible administration and quality service delivery as required by the various prescriptions; and
  8. Were the financial and administrative dis-functionality as well as inability of service delivery of municipalities considered for re-demarcation at this late stage?

The blocking of the motion by the ANC is a clear indication that they have lots to hide from the public in this regard. Their action sends a message to all South Africans that local government is not the business of local communities but rather the business of a selected few in the Jacob Zuma administration.

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BCM Ward 31 by-election: T-shirts from the Mandela funeral fraud scam used to secure ANC victory

Athol Trollip (MPL)

Eastern Cape Provincial Leader:

The ANC has once again shown that there is no limit to how low they will go to win elections.  Even if it means dishing out T-shirts and dishonouring Nelson Mandela’s legacy

Last night’s results from the Buffalo City Ward 31 by-election (Kayser’s Beach-Fort Grey-Kidds Beach-Ncera Villages) show that whatever the demographic or geographic make up of wards in the Eastern Cape, the real contest for political power is between the DA and the ANC!

The DA has also again shown that its trajectory of growth is upwards and the ANC’s is one of decline.   In Ward 31, the DA grew it’s vote from 26.28% in the 2011 municipal election to 29.61% in yesterday’s by-election, while the ANC showed a decline, from 72.74%% in 2011 to 65.58.%

Ward 31 is a mixed ward made up of urban and rural areas, coastal holiday resorts, informal settlements and impoverished communal rural villages. The DA again proved that it is a party for all South Africans and that it can garner votes in all of these communities. The other contesting opposition party’s couldn’t even muster any mentionable support.

The result again shows that despite how neglected communities are and how poorly the current ANC provides services or doesn’t, some of its supporters continue to support them blindly.

The DA however is not blind to the fact that the controversial Nelson Mandela funeral fraud scandal T-shirts had a role in securing this blind support. The ANC continues to display scant respect for their late leader by doing whatever they need to, to ensure they remain entrenched in smug power, even if they do this with T-shirts ostensibly acquired to honour him with tax payers’ money.

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Suspension of officials accused of corruption in the Premier’s office not enough

Langa Bodlani (MPL)

Limpopo Spokesperson on Public Administration:

The DA welcomes the suspension of five officials from the Premier’s office on allegations of supply chain corruption. However these suspensions are not enough, criminal investigations must also follow.

According to today’s reports, these officials were all in the supply chain management in the office of the premier and were all suspended this Monday on full pay.

These officials are now going to continue being paid by the taxpayers whilst they sit at home and doing nothing.

The Public Finance Management Act is very clear on such conducts that they are criminal offences that must be punishable by law.

Limpopo province has had its fair share of suspended state officials who continue being paid by taxpayers and who end up not facing criminal sanctions.

Premier Mathabatha, in his recent state of the province address alluded to his seriousness in tackling corruption in the province.

We challenge him to take the province in his confidence by making sure these officials also face criminal investigations by independent law enforcers. This will serve as  deterrent to other  officials.

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Premier Mathabatha must ban blue light brigades

Katlego Suzan Phala (MPL)

DA Spokesperson on Roads and Transport:

On Tuesday, after the Limpopo State of the Province Address, two private vehicles were involved in a horrific traffic accident while paving the way for various MECs’ blue lights convoy from the Limpopo Legislature.

I have today written to the Limpopo Premier, Stanley Mathabatha urging him to do the right thing and ban the use of blue lights convoy in Limpopo that transport MECs and Mayors.

In 2013 a blue light convoy transporting the Mayor of Aganang municipality, Maria Mokobodi , collided and killed a five year old toddler in Ga Rampuru, Limpopo while playing along the road and no action was taken against the driver.

In the DA-governed Western Cape, we have banned the use of blue lights by all government officials, except in cases of genuine emergencies that threaten life.

The DA urges Premier Mathabatha to put the safety of the people of Limpopo above the convenience of a few over-inflated politicians.

The DA will monitor investigations into the cause of Tuesday’s accident, and will push for action to be taken against any officials or protection services found to have broken the law.

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DA KZN: Premier must unleash KZN’s unrealised potential

Sizwe Mchunu, MPL

Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature:

TOMORROW, KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu, has the opportunity to unleash the true potential of our province as he delivers his State of the Province address.

As the political head of KZN he has the opportunity to tackle the real issues facing citizens so that our province can become a better place to live and work.

Over the years, the KZN State of the Province address has been little more than a propaganda machine, with the announcement of one grand plan after another, many of which never get out of the starting blocks.

Tomorrow, the Premier has the opportunity to show that he and his ANC-led cabinet understand the challenges facing the people of this province.

The DA has identified the following six issues which we believe continue to hold back the people of KZN and which threaten the realisation of our province’s full potential;

Service delivery

Poor service delivery affects the day to day lives of millions of people in KZN as many struggle without water, sanitation, electricity.  Cadre deployment, damning Auditor-General reports and unqualified and inefficient officials have led to the unprecedented move of two municipalities being dissolved and several placed under provincial administration.  Tomorrow the Premier must tell us his immediate plans to deal with the fact that KZN municipalities are being brought to their knees.

Education

Consistently shocking matric results and cheating scandals threaten to undermine the credibility of a KZN matric pass while hopeless educator management adds to the woes of schools which remain marked by great inequality.  The Premier must commit to a national audit of school infrastructure so that funds can be directed to fixing our schools, and systems developed for delivering textbooks to every learner on time.  He must ensure that his provincial leadership takes a hard-line against teacher union, SADTU, by enforcing teaching time as sacred, performance contracts for school principals, and regular assessments of teachers.

Health

The number of horror stories coming out of public hospitals continues to grow – this despite assurances by the MEC that all is well.  Cadre deployment, gross non-compliance and poor infrastructure maintenance have seen this department grow more and more sick.  Meanwhile an under-spend on NHI and over-spend on the department’s wage bill paints a clear picture of where the department’s priorities lie.  The Premier must tell us what he intends doing about this.

Unemployment

Despite much talk about the triple threat of poverty, inequality and unemployment it is not clear what the Premier is doing about it and whether the ANC even recognises the threat it poses to our province.  The Premier must explain why he consistently refuses to implement the Youth Wage Subsidy – in preference over government’s watered-down Employment Tax Incentive – as the province buckles under unemployment.  He must explain why it is preferable for KZN to be a “nanny province” with so many dependent on social grants and entrenched in poverty.  While the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer.

Corruption

Corruption remains endemic at every level of government, with cadre deployment and lack of accountability key drivers. The Premier must show that he prepared to deal with this, not just with words but through actions.

Community Safety

The Premier must explain why he and his cabinet will not acknowledge or implement the Community Safety Bill submitted by the DA in 2012 which has already proved a success in the Western Cape.  This while the right to live and work in safety remains a distant wish for so many.

These are the bread and butter issues that will come back to haunt the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal if it fails to address them.

Tomorrow the Premier must deliver a message of hope to the people of KZN.  He must show them the respect they deserve by demonstrating that he understands their challenges and that he is taking them seriously.

He must do this by announcing real and immediate steps which will improve their daily lives and move our province towards realising its unfulfilled potential.

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Another learner falls into pit toilet

Jacques Smalle MPL

DA Spokesperson on Education:

The Democratic Alliance has today written to Acting Limpopo MEC for Education, Jerry Ndou, to demand a thorough investigation into the state of sanitation at Lebuaneng Primary School where a Grade 5 learner today fell into a pit toilet (Click here).

The learner sustained injuries and was treated at the mobile clinic. This comes after the DA today conducted an oversight visit at the school in Bakenberg, Mokopane.

It is unaceptable that learners are forced to use hazardous ablution facilities, with risk of injury or serious infection.

This is a serious problem across the Limpopo province where 48,6% of all school learners are made to use pit-latrines during their school days.

This unfortunate incident follows Premier Stan Mathabatha’s commitment in his State of the Province Address yesterday that government will eradicate inappropriate sanitation facilities and unsafe school infrastructure.

As Premier Mathabatha acknowledges the massive problem, it is time that government resolves this hazard to our children once and for all.

The current national norm for toilets is 22 learners per toilet while Limpopo’s target is 40 learners per toilet.

At Lebuaneng Primary, there is 530 learners and only four toilets each for girls and boys. This disturbingly amounts to one toilet for every 66 learners.

We call on Mathabatha and the Department of Education to speedily implement their commitment to ensure that children use ablution facilities at schools without fear or harm to their person.

Where the DA governs, school learners enjoy the highest access to flush toilets of any province at 98,63%. Learners in Limpopo deserve the same level of delivery as the Western Cape.

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Nelson Mandela Bay municipality to blame for botched relocation

Cllr Retief Odendaal

DA Caucus leader – Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality:

Today, we witnessed the heart-breaking relocation of 58 families from ERF 2657 Parsonsvlei to ERF 1755 Malabar.  The DA condemns the manner in which the Municipality’s Human Settlements Directorate conducted the whole process from its commencement. From the onset, the democratically elected Ward 12 Councillor, Shirley Sauls, was side-lined by municipal officials, officials rather opting to act unilaterally or with the ANC PR Councillor assigned to Ward 12.

The sheriff executed the order of the High Court and we respect this decision. The DA condemns any violence associated pertaining to the relocation.

To put the matter into perspective, I would like to give a brief background how the matter unfolded:

There are approximately 54 families currently residing on ERF 2657 which is private land, belonging to Westbrook Residential Development (Pty) Ltd. Westbrook obtained an eviction order on 8 April 2014 and the said order stated that the families be relocated to ERF 1380 CHATTY. Unfortunately the NMBM dragged its feet in relocating the families to Chatty and hence we have this situation where the families are being moved to ERF 1755, which is situated in Ward 12, Malabar.

ERF 1380 in CHATTY was a fully serviced site with all negotiations between the affected families, metro officials and Ward Councillor to relocate the families to the above site. Two weeks prior to the relocation when the metro officials and Ward 12 Councillor went to inform the families that transport was arranged for the relocation, the families indicated that they will not move. The affected families were resistant to the move from that day onwards.

ERF 1755 is actually earmarked for social and affordable gap housing. No guarantees were forthcoming in ensuring the families being relocated to the site will be afforded housing in the proposed gap housing project .The NMBM has been aware of this situation since 2007. The MEC for Human Settlements in October 2014 gave an undertaking to residents in Helenvale that they would be moving to this social housing project on ERF 1755.

ERF 1755 belongs to the Eastern Cape Department of Public Works. ERF 1755 is however situated next to a Muslim prayer site in Bramlin Road, Malabar. The Muslim community has been praying at this site for over 40 years. The NMBM is infringing upon the religious rights of our Muslim community and the Malabar ratepayers. Relocating families to a piece of vacant land in the middle of nowhere, does not speak to the need for integration. Is this the ANC’s way of perpetuating the Group Areas Act.?

Concerns relating to safety, social issues such as schooling, crime and basic services have not been properly investigated or even considered. Currently the children are at school in St Albans. The chance of these children being absorbed into schools near to ERF 1755 is remote.  Further concerns are that the site is situated next to a busy arterial road, but the overarching worry is the potential conflict between existing community members and the families being relocated.  The Muslim community, the Malabar Residents Association and members of the Malabar Extension 6 informal settlement are opposed to the relocation. The consultation processes with both the Ward 12 Councillor and Malabar community at large did not take place in a way consistent with democracy. It was completely flawed!

In spite of numerous submissions to find alternative land at Kuyga, Greenbushes and St Albans fell on deaf ears. The Municipality dragged its feet in the process and now the residents of the Malabar Community must accept the decision of officials, which are appointed and not elected by the residents of Ward 12.

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SOPA 2015: It’s time to treat the cause and not the symptoms

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga:

Over the past few years, Mpumalanga has seen service delivery protests erupt almost on a daily basis. The focus has shifted from the causes of the protests to the destruction that lies in the wake of these protests.

On Friday, Premier David Mabuza will deliver Mpumalanga’s 2015 State of the Province Address (SOPA). The DA hopes that this SOPA will ring in an era where the Premier goes back to basics and commits his cabinet to treating the causes of poverty, unemployment and service delivery woes instead of simply treating the symptoms.

Below we outline seven key themes that we expect the Premier to address in order to bring hope to the people of Mpumalanga:

Water and sanitation

  • The majority of service delivery protests have been over the provision of clean, potable water. Since 2010, Premier Mabuza had made promises to pay particular attention to the supply of bulk water infrastructure to municipalities. In 2014, he outlined a few highlights but cited that the bulk water infrastructure process was taking longer due to the lack of cooperation by some municipalities.
  • We hope that in updating the province on the progress made in the establishment of bulk water infrastructure, the Premier emphasizes the importance of the department of Cooperative Governance’s role in the performance of municipalities.

Education

  • In the DA-led Western Cape Province, the department of education has set aside R730 million to, over the next three years, establish ICT infrastructure to enable e-learning in schools. A further R53 million will be spent on converting 1 583 classrooms.
  • We hope that the Premier takes note of this and implements similar infrastructural development strategies in Mpumalanga. The supply of school infrastructure and learning materials is shoddy at best. Integrating the use of technology into our classrooms will remove the problems that come with unreliable suppliers and the late delivery of learning and teaching materials.

Economic Development

  • According to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), the agricultural sector is one of the few to have shown an increase in job intake in the province.
  • We hope that the Premier takes note of the importance of this growing sector in creating jobs and eradicating poverty. Major changes are needed in the agricultural department’s flagship projects such as Masibuyele Emasimini and Masibuyele Esibayeni. In this year’s SOPA, the DA hopes that the premier will detail the progress made in establishing the Fresh Produce Market and will this time announce a date upon which the Market is expected to open its doors.

Community Safety

  • Despite the crime statistics showing a decrease in certain criminal activities, we hope that the premier will announce the establishment of specialised crime units. Mpumalanga is in desperate need of units that specialise in rural safety, curbing drug abuse and drug related crimes, human trafficking and sexual offences.

Corruption

  • Since 2012, Premier Mabuza has promised that his administration would put an end to public officials doing business with government. Last year, he stated that over the past five years, the government had “dealt with” over 545 cases and charged over 67 public officials for doing business with government.

 

  • We anticipate that in this SOPA, he will state once again how public officials must not do business with government but we hope that this time, instead of simply “dealing” with offending public officials, he will outline proper recourse for those found to have been conduction business with government.

Health

  • Public health facilities are failing the citizens of Mpumalanga. From escalating perinatal deaths to long queues and crumbling hospital and clinic infrastructure, public health care is fast reaching crisis mode.

 

  • We hope that the Premier will compel the department of health to use its conditional grants instead of sending much needed funds back to treasury.

Nation building and wellbeing

  • We hope that in this year’s SOPA, Premier Mabuza will prioritise the integration of the different nations and cultures in the province.
  • In doing this, we hope that he will have a good story to tell on the progress made in the establishment of the Cultural Hub and the High Altitude Training Centre.
  • The rejuvenation of Mpumalanga’s heritage sites must also be addressed as this will bring capital into the province and aid job creation.

By treating the root causes of the problems facing the province, issues like service delivery protests could become a thing of the past. Premier Mabuza needs to realign all his cabinet and all the departments to focus on cultivating an environment that enables Mpumalanga’s residents to thrive.

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Solar Plants should contribute to the Northern Cape like mine houses do

Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Economic Affairs:

The Democratic Alliance calls for regulations forcing Solar Electricity Plant operators in the Northern Cape to adopt social and labour absorption plans that will benefit the Northern Cape.

Re-investment in the communities where solar plants operate should be a priority.

 

The social and labour plans must provide for the promotion of employment, economic growth and social development. Why should solar plants be held to a different standard than mining houses? Both offer great economic opportunities for the province and the local communities should benefit.

 

During our recent oversight visit to the Abengoa solar plant in Upington, it became very clear that local labour is not being absorbed into the plant. This is cause for serious concern, given the expanded unemployment rate of 38% in the province. The reason offered for the importing of labour is that work at the plant is of a skilled, technical nature. If this problem had first been addressed in a social or labour plan, the local community would benefit more from the plant.

 

We commend the Droogfontein solar plant in Kimberley for its assistance to the Galeshewe SMME incubator. We hope to see that the solar plants elsewhere in the province take their lead from this initiative.

 

We also call on director-general Justice Bekebeke to refrain from misplaced attacks. His comments that solar plants and mining houses should move their headquarters to the Northern Cape and pay their taxes here are nonsensical. The paying and collecting of taxes is a national competency. Mr. Bekebeke should know that taxes go into a central fund and are not ringfenced for the province where taxes are generated. We encourage the director-general to rather focus on whether or not companies are tax compliant.

 

We would like to see that the headquarters and data processing offices of the SKA project gets moved to Kimberley, especially in light of the new Data Sciences degree to be offered at Sol Plaatje University.

 

The DA will continue to press for the absorption of local labour into big projects in the Northern Cape, rather than importing of labour when our unemployment rate continues to rise.

 

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