Gupta MEC is not fit to deliver budget speech - DA NWest

Jacqueline Theologo says Wendy Nelson's budget hardly worth the paper that it is written on

Gupta MEC Nelson is not fit to deliver budget speech

28 February 2018

The DA believes that North West Finance MEC, Wendy Nelson, who will be delivering the province’s budget speech tomorrow is unfit for her position as she is severely compromised through her ties with the Guptas.

In 2016 Nelson accompanied Premier Supra Mahumapelo on a visit to Dubai where they met with 13 companies “who wanted to invest in North West” – all of them owned by the Guptas.

It is also alleged that the Premier’s cabinet reshuffle that took place shortly after this visit, where MECs who did not fit his political agenda were removed, was influenced by the Guptas – specifically Atul and Ajay Gupta who Mahumapelo met with.

The DA believes that MEC Nelson is a captured ANC cadre and that her budget tomorrowwill hardly be worth the paper that it is written on.

Despite promises made in the past, the ANC to date has done little to bring forward much-needed sustainability and inclusive growth in North West. Nearly one million people here are still unemployed.

Although the budget might look good on paper, the reality is that without proper management and consequence management, it is worthless.

Corruption, wasteful and fruitless expenditure and unauthorised expenditure are the main reasons for a total collapse in our province.

The extent of financial mismanagement and corruption in North West was again highlighted recently with the Mediosa scandal where the province’s Health Department awarded a Gupta-linked company a multi-million contract without the deal going out to tender. The DA believes that this scandal not only warrants the resignation of the Health MEC but also MEC Nelson.

A year after the delivery of the previous budget speech, the following observations apply:

While scandals like this take place and despite resolutions and promises, service providers don’t get paid on time and the provincial government do not adhere to their own policy to pay accounts within 30 days;

Last year, one of the biggest growth plans were expected for construction, yet there is a total lack of urgency and capacity to approve building plans timeously;

Our province last year received R265 million Municipal Infrastructure Grants from the national budget and looking at our municipalities we wonder who really benefited from these grants as our cities and towns are in a horrible state and people suffer without basic services;

Communities are severely affected by the dilapidated infrastructure in North West, combined with poor roads and overall maintenance – which has a negative impact on investor trust and thus prohibiting the creation of much-needed employment;

Not a single municipality received a clean audit.  Financial support in terms of capacity building is ineffective and local municipalities simply cannot manage their own finances. Most municipalities are in the red, owing Eskom and other essential service providers millions of Rands;

We were extremely sceptical about the R141 million community library service grant and were rightfully worried that the provincial government does not have the capacity to fully utilise this grant for the purpose of empowering our communities with knowledge. It seems as if we were spot on with our prediction. Despite this allocation, Premier Supra Mahumapelo thanked companies in the private sector for the libraries that were erected in the province at his State of the Province Address last week. It begs the question what became of the R141 million that was supposed to be used for this very purpose?

Due to ANC’s mismanagement of the economy, the MEC definitely has even less fiscal space in which to manoeuvre when she announces her budget this year.

We again propose the implementation of a Comprehensive Spending Review which would require the provincial treasury, working together with all departments, municipalities and state-owned entities, to review the composition of spending, the efficiency of spending, and future spending priorities, with a view to reprioritizing expenditure between 2017/18 and 2019/20.

It is time for Total Change, where the people’s money is used to uplift communities, bring proper services and create an environment where jobs can be created. The ANC is broken and only the DA can save North West.

Issued by Jacqueline TheologoDA Whip in the North West Provincial Legislature, 28 February 2018