Andrew Louw, MPL
DA Provincial Leader:
The Democratic Alliance is deeply disappointed in the state of the province address. The address contain numerous factual inaccuracies and obvious misstatements. The premier was far from the facts in this speech.
We should have expected this from the get-go when the premier stopped delivering her prepared speech when she arrived at a paragraph on payments to SMMEs. She indicated that she “does not want to confirm”
what was written in her speech. If the premier does not have faith in her own prepared speech, how does she expect the people of the province to have faith in her speech? She might regard her duties as a joke, but this isn’t a laughing matter to the people of the Northern Cape.
The premier is wrong to say that it is a “pleasure” to drive on Northern Cape roads. In its 2013/14 annual report, the department of Roads and Public Works freely acknowledge that 80% of gravel roads have serious driveability issues. It is disturbing that the premier still talks about fixing flood damage from five years ago and shows the urgent need for a provincial disaster management strategy.
It is interesting to note the complete 360 degree change in the premier’s stance on crime in the province. In September 2014, the premier described the Northern Cape as “the safest province”. Today, she described it as “the rape capital of South Africa”. She has finally acknowledged what the DA has been warning her about. According to the latest police statistics on crime, there are five sexual offences, 17 robberies and 24 assaults occurring in the province every day. Yet instead of strengthening the police and preventing a viable strategy to combat crime, the premier places the burden on residents.
It is also interesting to note that, while the premier spoke about the need to fight crime, she did not mention corruption even once. This is while two of her MECs are charged with serious financial crimes. The premier lacks the capability and capacity to bring about meaningful changes in the province, because she is a political deployee of the ANC who really pulls the strings to protect itself from accountability. Every decision is made to advance corruption, not to serve the people of the Northern Cape.
Instead of addressing the scourge of corruption and maladministration, the premier says with a straight face that the members of the executive council are performing their tasks with “distinction and honour”. We want to remind the premier that there is neither distinction nor honour in fraud, money laundering, racketeering and corruption.
It is disappointing that the premier failed to provide a clear contingency plan to prevent further schools shutdowns from occurring.
We have seen a mushrooming of violent service delivery protests across the province. We know that our children have become the soft target for dissatisfied residents. We need to know how the provincial government plans to prevent such shutdowns from happening again.
The premier misrepresented the state of the provincial tourism sector.
Contrary to her claim and despite the efforts of the Northern Cape Tourism Authority, the tourism sector needs serious intervention. The department of Economic Development and Tourism indicates in its
2015/16 Annual Performance Plan that international tourism increased with only 0,2%. This is far below the national growth rate of 10,2%.
The domestic tourism sector accounts for only 1,4% of the national tourism sector. Both foreign and domestic tourists spent less time and less money in the province compared to previous year. Despite the money thrown at the so-called mega projects, tourism is not growing.
It is declining. The premier should have announced strong measures to boost tourism.
It is a shock to hear that the mental health hospital is only 52% completed. In October 2014, it was announced that this facility would open its doors in May 2015. Its original completion date was in 2007.
A hospital which should have been operational already is now in its tenth year of construction. Costs could escalate from the original price of R290 million to more than R2 billion.
We welcome any commitment to provide houses for the poor. However, the announcement of 1 500 houses is very small compared to a provincial housing backlog estimated by COGHSTA to be 44 111. In fact, the premier today announced a plan to address only 3% of the provincial housing backlog. This is even less than what was delivered on in the previous year. At the rate the premier is going, it’ll take about thirty years to eradicate the housing backlog.
This was a disappointing address from a disappointing premier. She did not make use of an ideal opportunity to address the bread and butter issues facing our province, but instead chose to play ostrich and hide behind misrepresentations.