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.