South Africa remains a divided society on so many levels

By Anthony Bernadie MPL, Leader of the Official Opposition Party:

The following speech was delivered in the Mpumalanga Legislature today by Anthony Bernadie MPL, during the Debate on the tabling of the Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation 2015 Budget. Budget Vote 11.

Hon Speaker

South Africa remains a divided society on so many levels, our country is literally burning through protest action and Xenophobic violence, while unemployment continues to fuel anger and frustrations that simmer beneath the surface of society.

Today more than ever before, our nation needs hope and inspiration. We require a renewed commitment to nation building, Ubuntu and the unification of South Africans.

Over the past 21 years, history has proven that culture, music and sport are key to uniting South Africans. It has been in some of the world’s greatest sporting moments that our nation has stood strongest.

Hon Speaker, with only weeks to go to the 2015 IRB Rugby World Cup, the South African Rugby Union has launched the #HomeGroundAdvantage video, to once again inspire a nation and unite us behind the Springboks.

In this inspiring video, the narrator says, (selective quote) ‘When we put on our green and gold, we are us. Where the colour we are, matters less than the colour we are in’ and ‘…when we stand together we are unstoppable’.

Having watched this video, I came here today expecting the MEC to inspire us and to use the core mandate of this department to unite the people of our province.

How wrong I was. Not only does the budget before us do little to achieve what our country so desperately needs right now, but the MEC merely said what was said before, the budget funds what it funded before, nothing new, no vision, no drive – it is merely business as usual.

Archive Building

Is it not ironic then that while that what our nation needs is not funded, but major capital projects costing millions of rands, creating extremely wealthy well connected individuals are allocated funds in abundance.

How can it be that we have built a Provincial Archive building, costing over R150 million, yet it is standing empty and is not operational. As far back as 2008, former MEC Dina Pule announced 44 record managers have been trained. The question is what’s happened to all the people the department supposedly trained in the last 7 years if there are currently only 5 people employed in this building?

Cultural Hub and High Altitude Training Centre

So too, another lucrative project with no shortage in funds is the Cultural Hub and High Altitude Training centre. Since the 2012/13 financial year, the Department has spent

R172 310 809 on these projects but to date there are only empty pieces of land to show for this investment.

These multi-year capital projects are foreseen to cost the taxpayers of this province an estimated R10.1 billion. Evidence again that we are not funding what is needed.

Heritage Sites

Hon Speaker, our collective heritage is who we are. It must be protected and our heritage must be preserved. Yet heritage sites in Mpumalanga are grossly neglected. It is a disgrace that the department who is the custodian of protecting our heritage has over the past 21 years spent a mere R20 million on the establishing, building and maintaining of new and old monuments, statues and heritage sites.

In the last two financial years the department has only managed to build one statue to the value of R2.8 million of Dr Saul Mkhize in Driefontein. Perhaps it is not surprising considering that our province still has no heritage board to administer the national heritage act by identifying, protecting, conserving and managing the heritage of Mpumalanga and advise the MEC on heritage policy matters.

Sport

Hon Speaker, the one glimmer of hope is the announcement that the department has funded the Mpumalanga Sport Confederation (MSC) with R2 120 000 in this financial year. The MSC is the department’s management vehicle in supporting sporting clubs.

It is through these funds that our Provincial teams, The Mpumalanga Black Aces, The Mpumalanga Rugby Union and individual underprivileged athletes will be supported.

After years of fighting for financial support for our clubs and union, the department has finally listened, and I urge you Hon MEC to publically inform the Black Aces, the Puma’s and the public that these funds are now available and to state categorically, what the process is for them to access these funds.

Hon Speaker, we cannot expect our country or province to excel on the Sport fields if we do not invest in their development at a young age.

In supporting the budget before us, allow me to wish the Mpumalanga Puma’s the very best of luck for their Vodacom Cup Final against the Western Province this weekend, I know they will do us proud and lastly let’s use this debate as an opportunity to wish the Springboks well for the up-coming World Cup, calling on all South Africans to unite behind our team and ensure that with every game we play we indeed have #HomeGroundAdvantage.

I thank you.