Budget vote speech: Department of LEDET

The following speech was delivered by Langa Bodlani DA MPL, to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature on 18 June 2015 during the Debate on the 2015 Budget of the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET)

The recently adopted DA’s values charter emphasis that central to empowering South Africans is ensuring that they are free from depravations that rob them of their ability to use their opportunities.

This requires amongst others, a growing economy to enable people to access jobs.

Honourable members,

LEDET has a crucial role in ensuring that we have an enabling environment for the creation of a job producing economy.

Honourable members

This department viewed separately is performing well but looked with its entities; a picture of gloom begins to emerge.

For us to get to this position this department must move swiftly to filling its vacancy rates.

These are the vacancies including those in the parastatals such as the game rangers in the Limpopo Wildlife Resorts.

The department’s reply revealed that Limpopo had at least 418 known poaching cases but only 113 successful arrests were made in the last three years.

Of concern for the DA is the number of field rangers who patrol our game reserves. An example is the D’Nyala Nature Reserve which employs a mere 6 field rangers and lost 2 rhinos in 2013.

Limpopo’s parks lost 14 rhinos to poachers over 3 years with Atherstone and Nwanedi Nature Reserves and Letaba Ranch being the hardest hit.

The value of animals lost to poachers in provincial reserves during 2012/13 & 2014 is conservatively estimated at a staggering R25 million

The preservation of these games is the source of tourism in our province and an effective means of job creation.

Yet LEDET does not seem to have a workable strategy to deal with these poachers who are depleting our natural reserves.

Honourable Members

We still need to be convinced that the removal of Limpopo Wildlife Reserve from Limpopo Tourism Agency to LEDET will lead to the aimed clean audit of the LTA.

Honourable members

The office of the CEO at the Limpopo Tourism Agency is given over R10 million from which he must pay the very same board members who must exercise oversight over this office.

This defies logic as you need a board that is not beholden to the CEO for its remuneration.

Moreover this R10 million, the CEO does not form part of the human resource and the latter has its own budget.

Convention is that the CEO is the most senior of the human resource and intrinsically forms part of this section as the head.

LTA through the application of a strange form of logic saw it fit to separate the CEO from personnel.

The entire personnel gets just over R6 million and the office of the CEO alone get R10 million, strange indeed.

Honourable members

Another entity in trouble is the Limpopo Gambling Board

At a recent portfolio committee meeting of the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) it was revealed that the Limpopo Gambling Board (LGB) is paying a staggering R700,000.00 per month for the rental of its offices.

Speaker

This lease agreement started in 2013 at R500,000.00 per month and has an annual increase of 10% per annum.  The rental is therefore currently over R700,000.00 per month.

The lease agreement has a lifespan of 10 years and by the time that period comes to an end, the taxpayers would have paid R120 million. This is R70 million more than the National Gambling Board has contracted for its national head office in Sandton, Gauteng.

Members

If the Limpopo department would rather purchase the building it would cost R80 million. The choice by Limpopo to spend R70 million more than the entire National Gambling Board Head Office, and to spend R40 million more than purchasing the building is a blatant abuse of public funds.

To compound this matter, the LGB is currently unable to conduct compliance audits on Limpopo’s gambling outlets because of financial constraints.

The DA pushed for this department to explore all options including the purchase of this building or the cancellation of this lease and paying of the penalty fee. This will definitely be the more cost effective option.

I cannot speak for other parties.

Now talk about ethics, it is unethical to want to censor this information from getting onto the public domain.

Every effort to cut costs to save the taxpayers’ money must be government’s priority.

On my being referred to the Ethic Committee for exposing this exorbitant rent to the media and the taxpayers who foot this bill.

I say ethics is about what ought or ought not to be done.  What is ideal and what is not ideal and what is the best decision under the circumstances.

Now was it ideal to divulge this waste? Was it the best decision under the circumstances?

My answer to both these questions is in the affirmative.

For our Constitution in section 16 provides for freedom to receive or impart information and ideas.

I thank you.