MEGA still fail on its mandate to provide economic development in the province

By Anthony Benadie MPL, Spokesperson on Finance, Economic Development & Tourism:

The Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) continues to waste taxpayer’s hard earned money while failing to implement its mandate of providing economic development policies and programmes in the province.

Despite repeated calls by both Premier David Mabuza and MEC of Economic Development and Tourism, Eric Kholwane, to support MEGA’s R38.8 million restructuring programme (designed by Deloitte), the results from the 4th Quarterly report (Jan 2015 – March 2015) from the parastatal instil no degree of confidence in the entity, and instead cements the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) call for the disbandment of MEGA.

As the entity mandated with the implementation of a number of economic development policies/programmes in the province, it is a major concern to see the entity achieving only 42% of its targets in the 4th quarter, having spent 97% of its annual budget as at the end of the 4th quarter. This is definitely not value for money, and symbolic of the paralysis that has befallen this entity.

Government needs to realise that the failure by MEGA has a direct negative impact on the economic potential of the province. For instance, the slow pace by which MEGA is developing the International Fresh Produce Market is costing emerging farmers potential future revenue they could generate from the market.

The Market is nowhere near being complete, with the entity failing to complete phase 2 of the project plan and only 17% of the allocated R 7 million for the programme being spent. Phase 3 for the establishment of the Agri-Hubs that will feed the Fresh Produce Market has not been achieved as planned, with issues of land size and operational models still not being approved by cabinet.

This unfortunately is not the only problematic programme in the entity, with Programme 7 and 8 (Housing and Business Development) both achieving 0% of their targets, having spent 32% and 40% of their R8 million and R18 million budgets respectively.

So too, other MEGA programmes do not inspire confidence either.

With unemployment on the rise, and major industries shedding jobs, the CEO of MEGA, Xola Sithole (appointed on the 1st January 2015), and the rest of the newly appointed board members have a mammoth task ahead of them.

It will take strong leadership and superb managerial skills to save MEGA, if at all possible and deliver on the important mandates of promotion of foreign trade and investment, funding in respect of SMMEs and delivering on massive infrastructure in the province.