NEWS & ANALYSIS

ANC FState govt still refusing to accept responsibility – David van Vuuren

DA MPL says it is disturbing that over the next three years, the province will get R400m less from equitable share

ANC-led Free State government still refusing to accept responsibility for own failures

3 May 2018

There is a popular saying that says that you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

The ANC government is trying to fool the people of the Free State.

Everyone in this hall is here today to listen to the MEC for Finance, honourable Elzabe Rockman, to explain why we should approve her department’s budget.

We, as the Legislature, also went all over the Free State to listen to all the MECs of the different departments where they presented their budgets. Today is the last and final debate of all departments.

Before I address the budget, let me give you a brief overview of the Free State budget and how the current government utilises the money available to them intended to positively change the lives of the people in this province.

The provincial budget is compiled out of different income streams. In the Free State, we have some forms of own revenue through fines, hunting permits, liquor licenses etc. but most of the money that makes up the Provincial Budget comes from the equitable share.

This equitable share, is a share of the national budget which National Treasury allocates to provinces based on a specific formula.

What is very disturbing is that over the next three years, the Free State will get R400 million less from the equitable share.

The reason why we get less is because of the poor political leadership that this ANC government has towards attracting investment, growing the economy and creating a conducive environment that will present positive opportunities for businesses to expand, and for new entrepreneurs to start new businesses.

While there is poor growth in our economy, and a decrease in the taxpayer base, we also see a remarkable growth in corruption and fraudulent acts that scare off both local and international investors.

This failure by this ANC government resulted in the South African Revenue Service collecting R50 billion less income tax than what National Treasury anticipated to collect.

This under-collection to the national budget has a direct negative impact on the equitable share that provinces and municipalities receive.

What does poor political leadership mean? When Jacob Zuma fired the former Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation lost more than R100 billion overnight. That is a R100 billion from the pensions of government employees. The pensions of many of our fathers and mothers, of teachers and nurses and other hardworking officials.

The Rand lost 5% in value against the US Dollar and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange all share index suffered major losses.

This is an example of how drastically the markets and the world reacts on irresponsible political decisions and statements.

There is an estimated R50 billion lost to state capture, mostly benefiting the Guptas. Let us remember that it was ANC politicians and ANC cadres serving as officials within government, under the watchful eye of Jacob Zuma and his cronies like Ace Magashule, who wilfully ensured state capture.

The ANC government in the Free State basically sponsored the famous Gupta wedding at Sun City with more than R30 million they siphoned off from the Vrede Dairy Project which was intended to help poor people.

The Head of the Department of Agriculture, Mr Peter Thabethe, was arrested a few weeks ago, together with others accused in the Vrede Dairy scandal, but he has still not been suspended, and he is still the head of this department and the accounting officer with a budget of hundreds of millions of Rands.

Honourable Speaker,

What I don’t understand is that the DA has repeatedly warned the ANC government, as is our constitutional obligation as an effective opposition, of the financial mismanagement, fraudulent and corrupt actions of politicians and officials.

We have done it nationally, provincially and in every municipality where DA public representatives serve.

But what happened? The ANC government has denied everything, they turned a blind eye to the criminal actions taking place around them with the idea that they might be included in this network of getting very rich very quickly at the expense of the people.

The ANC infiltrated every senior and decision-making position, but the problem was that the people they have put in these positions as Heads of Departments, municipal managers, chief financial officers etc. were people who were not qualified and who definitely did not have the necessary experience these positions require, but they were politically suitable in order to facilitate the large scale of looting.

But how does all of this effect our province and municipalities?

The Free State has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country at 39% according to the expanded definition. That means about 490 000 persons out of a total workforce population of 1,2 million people in the Free State cannot find work.

Almost all Free State municipalities are in a financial crisis and can technically be classified as bankrupt.

Three municipalities, Masilonyane, Mafube and Maluti a Phofung have been put under Section 139 administration. The municipalities in the Free State combined owe Eskom more than R6,2 billion and water boards more than R2 billion.

The Mangaung Metro will most probably be the first metro that will be placed under administration. Mangaung is unable to collect their outstanding debt which has grown to more than R4,3 billion, the Bloemwater debt is at almost R220 million while the metro’s Eskom debt is more than R103 million. The Mangaung Metro, under this ANC government, struggles to deliver basic services like clean water, electricity and sanitation.

Throughout these two weeks of debates on the budgets, the Democratic Alliance informed the ANC government of where they have shortcomings and how to address it, but the ANC stuck to the same narrative of why they struggle to deliver services and why they steal money and this narrative stayed the same as you have heard today. The ANC always blames others instead of accepting responsibility for their own failures.

Unfortunately, the ANC government continues to fail the people of the Free State by neglecting to account for the poor state the province is in. They will blame everyone and everything except the fact that they alone in government decide on the way forward, and the fact that it is under the ANC government that money is mismanaged and that corruption takes place with little to no consequences.

Honourable speaker,

Good governance depends on qualified officials with experience and an impeccable integrity, together with political guidance to determine the direction the province should go in to improve the lives of the people and to deliver much needed services.

Does the DA do it differently where we govern?

Yes we do.

In the Tshwane Metro, when the DA was elected to form a coalition government, under the leadership of Mayor Solly Msimanga, we took over a metro with a R2 billion deficit and within one year we turned the Tshwane Metro around to the extent where the city recorded a R700 million surplus. In our first year in government, the DA-led administration obtained an unqualified audit opinion. During the same time, more than 4 000 title deeds have been transferred to beneficiaries in Tshwane alone.

In the City of Johannesburg, the DA-led coalition government, under Mayor Herman Mashaba, has already transferred more than 5 000 title deeds to beneficiaries while more than 1 000 new houses were constructed. Improving the safety and security of residents is a key priority and under DA Mayor Mashaba, 1 500 additional members have been recruited into the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. More than 180 000 potholes have been repaired and 520 kilometres of road has been resurfaced in Johannesburg. In the first year in government Mayor Mashaba uncovered almost R12 billion lost to corruption under the previous ANC-led government, but Mayor Mashaba did not leave it there, implicated officials were suspended and charged, and are being prosecuted while attempts are being made to recover the stolen money.

This is the DA difference to service delivery which really improves the lives of people.

The DA does not tolerate corruption and if there is evidence and a rumour of corruption taking place the DA will investigate it and take disciplinary action, like we did in George, we even informed the Hawks of possible criminal acts that took place.

The DA is a party for all the people and the only truly diverse party in the country. Out of the nine provinces, the DA has eight black provincial leaders and we are very proud of having a black woman as the DA provincial leader in the Free State, Mme Patricia Kopane.

Honourable Speaker,

There is one thing that I am very certain of today, and that is that the ANC is trying to fool all the people all the time.

To keep the ANC in power to manage public money is the same as making a mouse the manager in a cheese factory - it is a recipe for a disaster.

The people of the Free State deserve more and can determine their own fate next year at the ballot box. Make sure you choose the right manager. The DA is ready to govern in the interests of the people. Where we govern we improve peoples' lives, we can do the same here in Thaba Nchu and the rest of the Free State

Issued by David van VuurenDA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature, 3 May 2018