Premier’s budget will not bring the change Gauteng desperately needs
26 July 2019
It is now more than two months since the National General elections held on 8 May.
In these two subsequent months a few things have become abundantly clear.
The first is that, given the ANC’s overwhelming dip in support, it is evident that millions of Gauteng’s residents have seen through the façade portrayed to them by the provincial government in the 5th administration.
They are simply tired of the same old promises, the same old excuses that eventually lead to the same outcomes – little that enriches or improves their quality of life.
The second notable observation is that despite this warning from our people, this administration will pick up right where the last one left off.
This is evident in the lack of tangible plans outlined in the Honourable Premier’s SOPA speech and the fact that the budgets to be tabled in this House do not adequately reflect the will of the people.
Myself, and some of my colleagues, were lambasted by the Honourable Premier in his reply to the SOPA debate for pointing out that this 6th administration has kicked off without palpable plans.
Judging by this response, our remarks surely hit a nerve, because despite what is paraded publicly, the truth is that there is little of substance below the hubris and bluster emitted by this cabinet.
The fact that this budget was drawn up prior to the election, and not modified since, is a clear indication that the next five years will be the same as those came before it.
There are Honourable Premier major issues regarding this budget, your office’s performance and what is to come in the 2019/20 financial year.
Let me start with your most crowed about project, Tshepo 1 Million.
In the beginning of last year, this project was upgraded from 500 000 to a target of 1 million.
By the end of the 2018/19 financial year, the project was flagged by the Oversight Committee on the Office of the Premier (OCPOL) as majorly under-performing. By the close of the financial year-end the cumulative number of people who had been impacted by this programme throughout the 5th administration stood at 586 725. Of these, a mere 18 980 secured full-time employment in the past financial year.
One of the reasons cited for the dismal performance of this programme was that more effort needed to be made by the private sector.
This would be laughable if it were not for the severity of the dire state our economy finds itself in.
Except for EPWP placements within this programme, which are “work-opportunities” and have a minimal long-term impact on unemployment, all of the so-called success stories of Tshepo 1 Million emanate from the work done by the private sector.
It is your political party Honourable Premier, its poor policies and wayward cadres that have run the economy into the ground.
On the one hand, the ANC has a disdain for the markets in their pseudo-Marxist, utopian outlook on the world, yet lived experience dictates that it is the markets and not government that stimulates the economy.
A fact, not always whole-heartedly, accepted by the ANC when it is convenient.
The private sector excuse holds no water as it is only you who is to blame for the failures of this project.
I quote from page 19 the OCPOL report on the fourth quarter for the Office of the Premier:
“… Programme 2 and Programme 3 under-spent by 47% and 75% respectively. This is a major concern and needs to be addressed particularly given that the highest under-spending was recorded under Programme 3, that is responsible for assisting economically excluded youth with the provision of training and skills contributing to employment among other things.”
Another major area of concern, as pointed out by both OCPOL and the DA, repeatedly, is that the project has little impact at a grassroots level.
In one breath, you speak of the Township Economy and stimulating markets that have been historically disadvantaged, and in another, do the complete opposite.
Spending by your office within our townships is low. This is not my assumption. This is evidence based as recorded by OCPOL.
Your office spent its annual budget almost in its entirety, yet given the above, it is clear these precious funds were mis-used.
We desperately need to assist those who have been excluded from the economy. While the TMR project speaks of economic rejuvenation, it cannot be that those who are to create sustainable businesses for themselves are reduced to mere middlemen.
Neither is the solution to unemployment subcontracting every tender that is on offer.
Successful bidders of tenders need to be in a position to be the producers of goods and services, not simply to pass the buck in the form of some or other sub-contract within a sub-contract.
As the head of the Provincial Government it is upon you to ensure that upskilling, incubation and training becomes an integral component of the work of this administration.
We cannot continue on the path we are on where departments and entities are at the mercy of cabals who use their resources to enrich themselves and those who are linked to them through patronage networks.
The only way to ensure that this becomes a reality is to not only speak a good game on taking action to root out corruption, but there must be tangible outcomes too.
It is common cause that while within your office you have an anti-corruption team, this team’s work is seldom reported on and outcomes are hard to come by.
The results of investigations are vague at best and the ramifications for those who are found guilty are seldom reported on.
Therefore, time and again the GPG is lambasted for a lack of consequence management.
Last year Honourable Premier you referred 300 cases to the SIU for investigation – one of which involved MEC Lebogang Maile. What has happened to these cases? Have they disappeared into the ether never to be seen again?
If your office Honourable Premier is the benchmark by which other departments are to measure themselves by, given their lack of capacity to pursue corruption, it is then clear as to why we find ourselves in this perilous state.
Honourable Premier, while your office meets the right criteria to achieve clean audits, doing the bare minimum has not translated into improved socio-economic conditions. We have not broken the vicious circle that is the reality faced by millions of Gauteng’s residents – particularly the poor, the marginalised and forgotten.
Your office may look good on paper, but lived experience tells a different story.
And from experience, the budget tabled before us will give little effect to dramatically changing the lives of Gauteng’s 14 million residents.
Issued by Solly Msimanga, DA Gauteng Caucus Leader, 26 July 2019