Sizwe Mchunu, MPL
Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature:
Today, KZN Premier, Senzo Mchunu, had the opportunity to deal with the bread and butter issues affecting the daily lives of our province’s citizens during his State of the Province Address.
Instead, he only touched on some and failed to come up with the tangible solutions that the people of our province are looking to him for.
Hopes for a revitalised KwaZulu-Natal – in line with provincial government’s 2030 vision – took a severe knock with the announcement that poverty and inequality rose from 25% to 28% between 2010 and 2014, economic growth rate was lower than expected, social inequality figures remained stagnant at 17% and consistently high crime levels continue to destabilise and limit investment in the province.
But the elephant in the room today had to be the misleading announcement of a 3% decrease in the provincial unemployment statistic to 20.8% – when in fact unemployment increased by 5.7% over the 2013/2014 period.
The figure is also very different to the 40% KZN unemployment rate announced to members of the KZN Economic Development and Tourism portfolio committee last week. There was also no reference to the fact that this shock statistic relates to 70% of the youth in our province.
Not only do these figures raise serious doubts about the accuracy and credibility of the information provided to the Premier for his SOPA address – they also tell us that the plans to date, to deal with the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, are failing spectacularly.
Yet another statistic offered by the Premier today relates to the housing delivery backlog, which he claims has dropped from 17.9% to 13% in just four years.
No province can do that and the DA will request a full breakdown of these figures.
Today the Premier disappointed on a number of issues, failing to even acknowledge them. These included;
– The disastrous state of local government in KZN and the unprecedented step of dissolving two municipalities
– He did not mention the Durban to Pietermaritzburg train announced with much fanfare by the former Premier
– There was no mention of the much-publicised Drakensburg cable way
– He failed to mention last year’s matric cheating scandal which has compromised the integrity of a Grade 12 qualification in our province
– The Premier’s sweeping statement – that bakkies used to transport will in future be banned – was unrealistic and unimpressive and fails to deal with the transport challenges that faces parents and children daily
– Despite spending millions on a Commission of Inquiry into the deaths of candidate KZN RTI Officers, he made no mention of when the full report or any disciplinary measures would be communicated
– Despite expressing concern about the scourge of rape and other violent crime, The Premier did not reveal any concrete plans to deal with this apart from saying there should be increased policing. Meanwhile the ANC-led KZN government ignores the Community Safety Bill submitted by the DA some two years ago.
The DA believes that the people of KZN deserve a government which hears their concerns and responds to them. They deserve a Cabinet and officials who put our province before their political careers and bank balances.
While many of the Premier’s intentions may be honourable, we have a challenge for him today – that he no longer settles for mediocrity in any way, shape or form.
The future of our province depends on it.