FS SOPA: Government fails while business and civil society keep the province afloat

Roy Jankielsohn

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The below speech was delivered by the Leader of the Official Opposition, Roy Jankielsohn, during the debate on the State of the Province in the Free State Provincial Legislature today:

Honourable Acting-Speaker,

 

Last week the Premier of the Free State ventured into parliament to deliver a speech during the State of the Nation Debate. The DA Chief Whip, Honourable John Steenhuizen, took him to task in a verbal assault that left this Premier discredited, beaten, exposed, and like his President a broken man.

 

He was exposed for what he is, a mere President Jacob Zuma mini-me. In his memorable broadside Honourable Steenhuisen stated: “You have proven that in your province, nothing is free and everything is in a state.”

 

During the State of the Province Address on Tuesday he again proved that he is unable to think outside of the little box that he is trapped in.

 

We have to concur with Honourable Steenhuizen that our province is indeed in a state.

 

The Free State has become a typical example of a failed state. We are a failed state because we have a Premier whose government is failing our people. Before he came into office as Premier he did everything in his power as ANC Chairperson to ensure that all his predecessors also failed.

 

Allow me to give some examples of how the Premier is trapped in this box.

 

In 2009 the Premier made the following statement: “The provincial government has resolved to revive the usage of rail between Bloemfontein and Maseru. We are immediately going to start with the Bloemfontein – ThabaNchu phaseby September 2009”.

 

On Tuesday he indicated that: “Deliberations around the N8 rail link as part of the broader N8 Corridor Development Project is back on track and a plan will be ready for the project by the end of this financial year”.

 

Perhaps he can inform us how his plans left the track between 2009 and 2015.

 

In 2009 the Premier stated: “The Harrismith Logistics Hub which will be undertaken as part of the Premier’s lead projects and whose feasibility and research has confirmed that it remains a very viable initiative which must be concluded within this term”.

 

On Tuesday he once again spoke about this project, but it has now become the “Maluti-a-Phofung Special Economic Zone”. We support this project and would like to see it completed sometime in our lifetime.

 

The problem is that a feasibility study for the governing faction in the Free State is in fact a “what’s in it for me” study.

 

In 2009 the Premier indicated that through a special bursary scheme 225 students will, after completion of their studies, be assigned to municipalities.

 

On Tuesday the Premier once again announced that the provincial government will support another 312 students this year which brings the total to 6009 bursary holders.

 

The DA has no objection to supporting deserving students, but perhaps the Premier can announce how many of these students have completed their studies over the past six years. On this issue there has been no noise coming from the Premier’s box.

 

In 2009 he stated that: “Our schools must be centres of excellence and the maths and science Saturday classes will be extended to cover all schools in the province”.

 

The Annual National Assessment (ANA) results for 2014 indicated that only 5,1% of grade 9 students in the Free State obtained an acceptable achievement of 50% and above for mathematics. In the first language category only 15,6% of these learners obtained an acceptable achievement. The dropout rate of 53% and numeracy figures are as significant as the matric pass rate. This government is failing our youth.

 

In 2009 the Premier indicated that he will: “convene an urgent Health summit with all stakeholders to agree on a turnaround strategy”.

 

Last year, the MEC for Health convened another meeting to develop a turnaround strategy for our failing public healthcare system.

 

The Premier has to go to Cuba to recruit healthcare practitioners because our local doctors and nurses have been driven out of state institutions by a working environment that undermines their professional ethics.

 

Our MEC for Health quotes from his dictionary of medical terms during speeches in this House, but he is unable to diagnose his own kleptomaniac disorders.

 

Under our new Cuban-led regime our people are getting more strategies and less healthcare. The current lack of capacity and financial backlogs of the provincial health department are perpetuating an immeasurable amount of pain and suffering for the majority of our people who are dependent on public health facilities.

 

The inability by this government to deliver quality healthcare, to all who need it, is a crime against humanity.

 

In 2009 the Premier stated: “Our government has adopted a zero tolerance to crime and corruption”.

 

Last year he appointed MECs who are facing criminal charges. This is perhaps a pre-requisite for being allowed into his box.

 

Every ANC connected person in the Free State knows that your job, position and other economic benefits like lucrative state contracts are dependent on the patronage network of the ruling factional elite.

 

Every person who is not connected knows that you are alienated and stagnate if you do not have a political “Ace” up your sleeve.

 

We know that this is the “Ace of Spades” because the minute you accept this card you have already started to dig your own political grave.

 

In 2009 the Premier indicated that: “Performance evaluation will also include our MECs, Mayors, Speakers and all public servants. We must be taken seriously when we say that everybody who cannot live up to the expectations of this government and who cannot respect the primary clients of this government, who are voters, must look for employment elsewhere”.

 

A noble commitment, but failing in its implementation.

 

The Premier must take some time to attend a public accounts committee, or attend some council meetings, to hear the grossly incompetent mayors, speakers and some officials try to explain their bleak performance.

 

Many of them would not have any hope of finding a job in the private sector. They, like some people here, are useful minions for a manipulative Premier.

 

Their intellectual weakness is the Premier’s political strength.

 

In 2009 the Premier announced: “operation clean audit 2014 as an initiative to achieve clean audits at all levels”.

 

To date not a single government department or municipality has obtained an unqualified audit without findings, and Letsemeng and the Office of the Premier have regressed in the 2013/14 financial year.

 

Two municipalities have not even completed their audits and most have stagnated.

 

According to a national government report, the Free State is the second worst governed province after North-West.

 

This is mainly due to cadre deployment, political interference, and factional in-fighting.

 

Transparency and accountability have become rhetorical words whose only use is to decorate political speeches. Protests are the order of the day, and violence erupts because of the lack of response from the political elite.

 

Our failing state lost its legitimacy when the ANC lost its moral compass.

 

The 2009 promise by the Premier to “Transform the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods” has yet to materialise.

 

2015 has now been declared a year of “Unity in Action to Advance Economic Freedom”.

 

But the Premier fails to realise that economic freedom can only happen through economic empowerment.

 

In the last 20 years government has been fixated with social engineering at the cost of economic development.

 

Our province requires the provincial government to create an environment that is conducive to economic investment and employment opportunities.

 

In this respect the provincial government has failed dismally.

 

The Premier spoke about the many Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) jobs that have been created. These jobs are important for our people who have no other employment opportunities.

The problem is that they contribute further to dependency and can never replace a decent long term job in the private sector.

 

In fact the Premier never mentioned the important role of the private sector in sustaining our provincial economy and creating employment opportunities and long term careers for our people.

 

The EPWP jobs only cater for a handful of the 627 000 people of working age who are not economically active in any way. These people are desperate for real long term sustainable jobs.

 

The one million people that the Premier mentioned in last year’s state of the province address who are dependent on the state for social grants is proof of this.

 

While social grants are important crutches for the most vulnerable in society, they have become the only source of income for a large part of our population who have been driven into dependency by a government that abuses this dependency to secure votes during elections.

 

The dwindling number of taxpayers in South Africa will not be able to sustain a growing number of grant beneficiaries indefinitely.

 

The Premier is stuck in his box and his only window is to blame Apartheid for his own failures.

 

The DA acknowledges the challenges that were caused by years of neglect of the majority of our people by an Apartheid government.

 

The 300 houses built and the demolished in Ezenzeleni because of poor construction are not because of Apartheid.

 

Mayors who buy expensive vehicles, spend large amounts of money on workshops and parties, and travel abroad at the expense of services cannot blame Apartheid because they cannot pay Eskom or deliver water to residents.

 

The cadre policy that serves a factional elite who plunder our municipal and provincial coffers can likewise not be blamed on a previous regime.

 

If our municipal and provincial governments have failed our people, then our business people in towns, farmers, and workers in various jobs are the life jacket that is keeping us afloat.

 

They are assisted in this by some very dedicated healthcare workers, educators, and civil servants in our administration and security apparatus who have so far resisted the political pressures of a factional political elite whose plundering is a contagious disease.

 

We plead with all patriotic people in the Free State to throw off the mantle of dependency and resist the political parasites who prey on the weak, the unemployed, and the destitute for their own self-serving purposes.

 

We do not all have to fail just because the governing faction in the Free State are moral failures.