Summary extract of Speech by Jack Bloom MPL in debate on the Gauteng Premier’s State of the Province address on 26 February 2015:
Madam Speaker, the Honourable Premier spoke on his Ten Pillars of radical Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation, which he calls TMR for short.
When I was at university TM stood for Transcendental Meditation, so I wondered if TMR was an updated version.
Transcendental Meditation is all in the mind, which made me also wonder if the Honourable Premier is living in the same province as the rest of us.
This provincial government has a long history of failed promises, which is why it would be radical indeed if new promises were actually kept.
The truth is that we live in a dynamic province with dynamic people, which is why we have made welcome strides over the last 20 years.
But when it comes to the public sector, we see failure, waste and corruption that is a huge drain on what we are capable of achieving.
The Premier mentions huge building projects, but the only ones that are likely to be done in time and within budget are the private sector ones.
This provincial government is incapable of building anything in a cost-effective way that is anywhere near scheduled deadlines.
It’s not just big projects like the Jabulani and Natalspruit hospitals – a failed contractor has been paid R14.2 million for a half-built clinic in Randfontein.
The Premier praises Natalspruit as the hospital of the future, an exemplar of modernised health care.
He should do an unannounced visit there and he’ll find that many patients say they preferred the old hospital because it had shorter queues.
They have to re-register on the electronic system every time they come because it does not record their previous details.
The hospital is not too clean either and staff are leaving in droves. It’s really a great disappointment.
This department which has still not recovered from the rampant corruption that erupted when Honourable Member Brian Hlongwa took over as Health MEC.
The reason we still have paper files is that according to court documents, the health information contract was allegedly corruptly awarded in 2008. This R1.2 billion contract was cancelled but the department could not award a new contract because the Baoki Consortium was claiming damages for the cancellation.
The Boaki Consortium has now surrendered this claim because they concede that they cannot defend themselves against evidence that one of their senior directors, Mr Hans Smidek, bought Honourable Member Brian Hlongwa’s house for R4.6 million to assist him in buying a new house for R7.2 million.
This is part of a host of allegations about a “generally corrupt relationship” between former MEC Hlongwa and the 3P Consortium that was first supposed to “turn-around” the department.
We still hear about the turn-around in this department. The Premier says there is good progress and that the department will be out of administration by May this year.
But the Big C problem will remain. As observed by Reverend Frank Chikane, who was Director General of the Presidency under Thabo Mbeki: “Every tender and contract under an ANC government is designed to make someone in the ANC rich.”
The truth is that so long as there is corruption, cronyism and cadre deployment, there will be government failure and the people will suffer.
The criminal justice system is so slow that we still do not have accountability for the period when the Gauteng Health Department plunged into disaster.
The Honourable Premier is on record as saying at the ANC’s 2012 Policy Conference that stepping aside doesn’t mean a person is guilty, but no-one should “hide behind” the argument that they are innocent until proven guilty, and thereby worsen the “troubled image” of the party.
Honourable Premier, you weren’t the premier then, but you are now, and you will have a “troubled image” so long as Honourable Member Hlongwa is still an official representative of your party.
You are the lead figure in your party’s provincial leadership. You can show a decisive break with the past by ensuring that he is no longer a prominent representative of your party.
Honourable Premier, I think you should meditate on this.
This is a test case. The more you delay, the more you must expect scepticism that the real reason you cannot get rid of the rot is because it is entrenched in the way your party operates.
The choice is yours.