By Anthony Benadie MPL, Spokesperson on the Office of the Premier:
Today, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza tabled his R237 773 000.00 Office of the Premier (OTP) Budget in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature. This budget is a chance for Premier Mabuza to outline his plans on how he will lead the province towards the attainment of the many freedoms countless Mpumalanga residents have been denied.
Freedoms that will allow citizens the opportunity to compete in the province’s economy in a fair and equitable manner.
Today, we note the 15% budget increase for his department, despite the provincial fiscus having seen an overall decrease of R215 million from their coffers. The DA hopes that the extra funding will be utilized efficiently and is glad to see that the bulk of the increase has been allocated to the Institutional Development Programme. These programmes’ core mandate is to provide institutional development services, advice, alignment and development of policies to ensure that the state develop capacity and delivers effective and efficient services.
While capacity is indeed in short supply in the provincial public service, the DA further notes the R1.2 million decrease in compensation of employees. Though this is a move in the right direction, a mere 1% is not enough to make a significant impact on the provincial fiscus. The province needs a leaner and more efficient public service work force that can make every cent work for the people of Mpumalanga.
We welcome the start of Phase 1 of the broadband rollout that connects health facilities, schools and other government institution to poor communities. We do hope it will improve service delivery in the Gert Sibande region and that the programme will be rolled out in all areas of the province.
It is unfortunate that good deeds of this department are always overshadowed by serious acts of corruption and maladministration.
The Office of the Premier must lead the Provincial Government in clean governance and the following issues must be dealt with openly by the Premier and his cabinet:
- Cargate: Millions of rands have been spent by the Premier and his executive on luxury vehicles. Instead of waiting for the Public Protector to release her report, the OTP should take the lead in ensuring that stringent mechanisms are put in place to prevent such lavish expenditure.
- Spying: Not only is Premier Mabuza accused of being a spy for the apartheid government, he is also accused of abusing state resources and spying on local journalists. These allegations further taint the already tainted reputation of the Premier.
- -“Kancane Kancane”: The Premier’s pet housing project. The Premier is accused of giving tenders in other government departments to companies that he owes money to for work done on his private projects. Further investigations must happen and an independent report needs to be tabled indicating clearly if all tenders awarded were above board.
- R10 billion Italy loan: Clarity is needed on the conditions of this loan, with reports from the Italian Investment that no concrete deal has actually been struck, yet the provincial government is celebrating. The premier must clarify what the interest on this loan is and when Mpumalanga will be able to pay it all back.
Only once these matters are dealt with, will the OTP be able to positively change the operations and perceptions of the provincial government and in turn improve service delivery in the province.