Zululand oversight visits reveal a “forgotten people”

By Mbali Ntuli, MPL, Member of the DA in the KZN Legislature:

Today we debate the report on oversight visits to the Zululand district.  For most opposition parties it will be a day of pointing out government’s faults and denigrating them for what they haven’t done. For KZN’s ANC government, it will simply be another opportunity to praise one another, while further denying that something has gone very wrong in our society and continues to do so at a rapid rate.

Having read the reports tabled for the last five years about the Zululand district and visiting many of the places mentioned therein I cannot stand here today and politicise a situation that no South African should be in under our democracy.  Perhaps this is because I am still young and have so much hope for our country and our province.

Instead, I want the citizens of Zululand to know that the DA gives credit where it is due – whether to the IFP, NFP or ANC that govern parts of this district – for any improvements that have been made to start addressing the injustices of the past.  I want you to know that young people such as myself have the greatest respect for the leaders seated here before you and for you the community who have never stopped fighting for a better South Africa that we now enjoy today.

However, as an elected representative of this legislature my job requires me to serve the people.  And I would be letting you down and betraying my role if I did not tell you about the true state of your district and offer alternatives that can empower you to make a change.

Firstly, sadly TLTP is simply a way for government to tick off a constitutional requirement. It has become less about the people and even less about the delivery of services to ensure their needs are met.

The Zululand district is 75% rural, has a high prevalence of HIV, has one of the highest percentages of child-headed households in KZN, only has 38% employment and is currently in what has to be officially classified as a drought.  The delivery of housing, schools and clinics is behind and so you remain with not only an underserviced district but one that has backlogs, some of which are only due to finish in 2025.

Many of these problems are solvable.  There is money – but there is no political will.  There is money – but it is not for you.  It is for some government employees who have decided that their need for luxury is greater than your need for clean running water, safe shelter, decent schools, adequate health facilities and jobs to improve your lives.

KZN’s legislature has been coming to this district since 2010 – five years. Yet according to the report tabled, many of the issues you have raised remain unresolved.  Year upon year our legislature under-spends in many critical departments, money that should have come to you.

Your district faces many pressing issues but none so pressing as education, health, jobs and water. I will address some of the issues around Education and Health while my DA colleague, Hlanganani Gumbi will speak about jobs and water.

Education

After five years;

–          Khoza High School still has only one toilet

–          Pongola Intermediate School has no working toilets

–          Yesterday I visited Mlokothwa High school.  There are still no flushing toilets, children still bath themselves outside, there is no functioning dining hall despite this being a boarding school and burst sewerage pipes remain that way not from my visit earlier this year but from years before

–          Teachers continue to have sexual relations with students – as is the case at Khoza High school- yet still the department does not check these teachers against the sex offenders roll.

Health

–          Mpungamhlophe clinic in Pongola reported having only seven nurses, with one seeing up to 70 patients a day.  Years later the problem persists with only two nurses being added.

–          Mpungamhlophe clinic reported having two consultation rooms. Th status quo remains the same five years later.

–          A clinic was meant to be built at Kwangenetsheni however this project has not been started.

–          Ambulances take upwards of six hours to arrive in parts of the district.  Yet no new ones have been bought to alleviate the problem.

The reality however is very simple. I can do the best job of oversight. I can point fingers at government but ultimately the choice lies with the community of Zululand to decide whether or not you are prepared to wait another five years – or more – for things to change.

There are currently 27 municipalities under a different government in this country. These municipalities are run on the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity.  Every year they continue to improve and surpass their previous levels of service delivery for those that live in them.

They boast clean audits from the AG, best service delivery to the poor, high employment numbers, especially for the youth through bursaries and internships and increased levels of crime monitoring and keeping citizens safe.

One province can even boast consistently high numbers of pupils passing matric every year simply because teachers are held to high standards and school service delivery is prioritised.

Every year these municipalities deliver houses, water, electricity and dignity to the people they serve. All of this has been achieved in five years.

Midvaal in Gauteng, Baviaans in the Eastern Cape and the majority of the municipalities in the Western Cape are proof of what a government can do in just five years.

 

Despite KZN’s programme of Taking the Legislature to the People in order to hear their cries and pleas for service delivery, it is clear that very little has been heard and even less done for the people of Zululand for the last five years.

Our Constitution states that ‘Legislatures at a national and provincial level must facilitate public involvement’.  At the time this was a progressive move.  It showed that finally South Africa had a government that was going to listen to all its citizens, take their issues to heart and work tirelessly to fix them.

Most importantly though, gave the people the power to make government work for them – or to change it.