SOPA 2019: KZN does not have a governance problem – it has an ANC problem
2 July 2019
The DA was expecting the Premier to list most of challenges facing the people of KZN - which he did - but he failed to say anything about social development. We also expected him to say something about the provincial economy, unemployment, crime, the poor state of service delivery, the health care system, agriculture and infrastructure among other things. Again, he did, but he missed the missed the most important part – the actual plan to tackle these challenges and implementation strategy thereafter.
In fact, the Premier’s SOPA sounded more like a close-out report from the former Premier. He told us what has already happened rather than what he is going to do with his new government.
Issues in our province are fast approaching boiling point yet, last week, the Premier missed a unique opportunity to charter a new way forward for our province. Instead, what we heard from the Premier was more vague ANC pipe dreams. There was no proper strategy aimed at restoring our province’s economy to one of growth and prosperity.
There was no clear plan to create a future where KZN’s people are able to find jobs, where they can feel safe, where corruption is dealt with seriously, and where services such as healthcare and education are delivered in a fair manner to all. Instead, SOPA was again used as an opportunity to bring out the long list of tired ANC slogans including ‘radical economic transformation’, ‘operation pay on time’ – words which have become meaningless.
Last week, Premier Zikalala became part of a long line of ANC Premiers who failed to deliver. Not only did he fail to come up with proper plans, he again failed to show the political will and leadership needed to unite KZN’s political parties to bring about the difference that is needed in our province.
- I say ‘again’ because Premier Zikalala has effectively been running KZN for several years from behind the scenes, giving him more than enough time to think about what he would do differently when the role is officially his.
- I say ‘again’ because the DA has already noted a divisive and exclusionary tone to the Premier’s conduct. During his acceptance speech, the Premier spoke about unity and then failed to recognize former provincial Premiers, only talking about the ANC.
- I say ‘again’ because in this same speech, the Premier referred only to ANC and IFP wards, ignoring wards led by other political parties.
- I say ‘again’ because recently, in this House, the Premier commented on the ‘whiteness’ of the DA Caucus in the Legislature.
Regrettably, the Premier’s provocative comments are not new. As MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) he established himself as someone who was more than willing to introduce racial undertones and division, particularly within the House.
Mr Premier - there can be no place for such talk if we want our province to move forward. Strong stable provinces need, strong stable leadership. And that is the question you need to answer to the people of KZN – do you have the resolve to rise above your own political interests and commit to working with all political parties to improve the lives of our people?
Jobs and the provincial Economy
It is no secret that unemployment, particularly among the youth, is the most urgent crisis facing KZN citizens right now and threatening the very fabric of our society. This should be the KZN government’s top priority.
While last week’s SOPA saw some commitment to a streamlined focus on economic development, again, it was not the immediate change that the people of KZN needed to hear.
The key impediments to growth in KZN centre largely on an environment which is not conducive to economic growth. This is evidenced by poor policy direction, particularly in terms of land ownership. It is also there to be seen on our major roads, which are at the mercy of criminals. Just last week, the N3 running through KZN was labelled one of South Africa’s most dangerous highways. What does this say to potential investors? What does this say to potential tourists? What does this say about the ANC in KZN’s ability to keep our people safe?
Premier - you need to stop telling us about Zuma’s Radical Economic Transformation, which is only radically empowering few elite. Instead, we should be debating ways of restructuring the provincial economy.
The only way to create jobs, sustainably lift millions out of poverty, and give people the hope of a future of shared prosperity is an economy growing at much higher levels. Developing economies across the world have demonstrated that when sustained growth is achieved, more jobs are created, salaries and wages increase, and the quality of life is objectively better.
A DA-led government in KZN would implement a realistic and achievable turnaround strategy – one that is outcome-based and measurable and aimed at igniting interest in our province. This will include;
- Engaging with key industrial stakeholders to form partnerships aimed at preventing more job losses
- Engaging with ‘big business’ about their needs to find creative ways to address capacity needs through work programmes
- Stopping the disruption of government business by so-called business forums
- Prioritizing youth unemployment with the introduction of programmes and mentorships to alleviate the current disconnect between skills and work in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
As we approach the 2021 Local Government elections, the Premier will no doubt be mindful of the blood nose he and the ANC received during the recent May elections. This is the clearest sign to date that the people of KZN are tired of hearing about ANC pipedreams. They need urgent and immediate reform measures and they need it now.
The delivery of basic services within KZN municipalities continues to cause protest action on an almost daily basis. This shows just how unhappy the people are. The time has come for the ANC to listen to them and take appropriate action.
Service delivery in our province is being compromised by corruption. And corruption will continue under your watch, Premier, until there is accountability. Yet there is no political will from the ANC to ensure accountability as you continue to place your own political interests ahead of the people of this province. You are even willing to compromise those who show the will to fight corruption if they don’t help you succeed on your political ambition.
I can offer some examples;
- KZN municipalities regressed in terms of clean audits with increased irregular expenditure and fruitless expenditure yet where is the accountability we need, when the former COGTA MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube is promoted not demoted
- Where is the accountability, when failed KZN Mayors are promoted and not demoted? Take stock of all former mayors sitting on ANC benches in this House. Is there anyone who achieved a clean audit expect for former eThekwini Mayor, James Nxumalo who was fired for achieving a clean audit and trying to clean up corruption
- The Ugu region is facing a water crisis and the community is protesting. Yet where is the former Mayor Mondli Chiliza? Nanguya
- KwaDukuza is on fire every day and services have stopped as municipal offices are forced to close. Again – where is the former Mayor Ricardo Mthembu? Nanguya
Today, KZN’s two biggest municipalities are collapsing. One is the hub of KZN’s economy, the gateway to our province and the second is the Capital City. Premier – you and your cabinet need to help eThekwini and other municipalities to recover debt owed by government departments and parastatals. You need to help eThekwini to recover monies owed by government departments and parastatals. And you need to place the Newcastle municipality under administration.
Right now, eThekwini has no Mayor. In fact, there has been no Mayor since 2016. Zandile Gumede had no capacity to lead the Metro. You knew about that Premier, but it was fine with you since she was available to help you succeed in removing Senzo Mchunu. The solution to resolve the eThekwini crisis is to remove Zandile Gumede and place eThekwini Municipality under administration and fire all 62 councillors involved in corruption.
Ndunankulu, ngeke uthi awazi kwenzakalani noma kusha lezinto engizishoyo ngoba ezinye zenzeka phambikwakho noma okunye kwenzeke ukhona.
The more one talks about these challenges which continue to hinder service delivery, the more it becomes clear that KZN doesn’t have a governance problem – it has an ANC problem.
Agriculture and land reform
Here in KZN, there are two sectors which have already been identified as the fastest ways in which to reduce unemployment – Agriculture and Tourism. Yet, despite the many grand plans announced by the ANC in recent years, the outlook is bleak within both sectors.
Mr Premier, - perhaps you can tell us what happened to the ANC’s radical plans to use Agriculture to turn around our ailing economy? Today, this sector is in a disastrous state and the only thing ‘radical’ about the RACET programme is its degeneration. Can you explain why the average employment rate within this sector in KZN dropped from an average of 11.9% between 1996 and 2006 to a rate of 5.1% in 2017? This is according to the KZN economic outlook review for 2019/2020. More importantly – can you tell us what you are doing to arrest this freefall?
Uncertainty around land reform continues to hamper true economic empowerment in our province. Yet, the DA-led Western Cape has been able to buck this trend, leading the country in implementing land reform with a 72% success rate of all projects supported by the Western Cape Government. Innovative solutions like the government’s share equity schemes and Commodity Approach continue to highlight how property ownership ultimately leads to real change.
The same question must be asked of Tourism. The ANC government in KZN does not appear to grasp the significant contribution that tourism can make to any country’s GDP. With its strong cultural heritage, World Heritage sites, mountains, beaches and excellent weather, KZN is arguably better than the Western Cape in its tourism potential and much can be done to unleash the value of this rich resource. Yet, our potential is being destroyed by mismanagement, water issues, poor infrastructure, crime and overall short-sightedness. Tourism provides enormous employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for this government to exploit, yet this is not being done. The question is ‘why not?’ Mr Premier? We must however commend the initiative to develop uMkuze airport and that will definitely boost tourism and local economy in Umkhanyakude district and surroundings.
Crime continues to be a major challenge for many KZN communities with almost every resident having been impacted by serious or violent crime, either directly or indirectly. Sadly, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been losing the fight. At the same time that crime is rising the SAPS is increasingly riddled with corruption and maladministration.
The DA recognises that SAPS is also in crisis, facing chronic under-training, under-staffing, under-resourcing and under-equipping (what we can refer to as the Four U's), combined with crime intelligence-in-crisis and detectives-in-distress.
A DA-led government in KZN would ensure that our police force is professional, honest and serves our province. KZN needs a SAPS that works with communities and other law-enforcement agencies to reach maximum effectiveness.
The DA recognises that the safety and security of KZN’s rural communities has been severely compromised under ANC rule. These areas are not only inhabited by farmers, but comprise farm workers, traditional communities and other individuals.
In the DA-led Western Cape we have pursued an intergovernmental dispute with the national Minister of Police in a bid to compel the national government to provide additional policing resources to that province.
A decade of mismanagement by KZN’s former Health MEC has seen an unprecedented oncology crisis while services in general continue to crumble. Today, we don’t know what happened to some 8 000 cancer patients during ‘deadly Dholomo’s’ handling of the oncology crisis. We must assume that they have all died while waiting because cancer does not wait. Mr Premier - is it not enough that more than 500 people have already died as a result of this crisis? What are you going to do to turn this around and fix our ailing health system?
One of your first tasks is to lobby against the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) which is both unsustainable and unfeasible. The various pilot projects around the country have shown this.
Our Education sector also remains in crisis with no plan to address rising violence at schools, high drop-out rates, pit toilets rather than proper sanitation and even learners who are still walking long distances and crossing dangerous rivers – just to get the education that is their basic right.
Then there is the strangle hold which the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) continues to have over so many schools and which is holding our children to ransom through the denial of accountability for teachers. The time has come for KZN’s ANC leadership to put an end to this.
It is government’s mandate to care for the most vulnerable members of our society – the ‘forgotten people’ of KZN - yet the Premier he did not refer to this critical area once in his SOPA.
Then there is the fact that, according to the Stats SA’s General Household Survey of 2018, 36.5% of all people in KZN rely on social grants, while 50.7% households are also dependent on them.
In order to alleviate this massive dependency, a DA-led government would prioritise the issue of female land ownership. With 45% of KZN households headed by women, this is critical for the development of our province
The Premier painted a rosy picture of what has been done over the past five years yet gave no real plan on the future. He did not address KZN’s housing backlog, the rise of land invasions or the title deed backlog.
The Premier focused on the EPWP saying that corruption and inefficiency would be addressed yet failed to address the core issues of the programme which is that it has failed to empower people through sustainable employment. Instead, it has become a tool used for party-political promotion by the ANC.
Corruption and reversing state capture
It is increasingly clear that the ANC is not a political party. Instead, it is a patronage system which has enriched cronies at the expense of millions of KwaZulu-Natal’s citizens who continue to live in abject poverty.
Nowhere is this more evident than here in KZN which, along with Gauteng, is the most corrupt province in the country, with the education and policing sectors worst hit. This is according to the Corruption Watch’s 2018 report, Upholding Democracy.
Mr Premier – can you tell us whether you plan to act on these recommendations and if not, why not? We also want to know that “whistle-blowers” who identify and report corrupt activities will be protected and in fact, even encouraged. Perhaps you can also explain why you announced the launch of an anti-corruption hotline in your SOPA when we already have one in the province?
It is possible for government to end corruption, but only where there is the political will to do so. We know this because we are already making great strides where we govern, with the City of Cape Town has been recognised as the most trusted metro in South Africa. The South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) confirmed this after studying South Africans’ trust and satisfaction in metros.
While the DA commends the fact that 42 000 children are making use of learner transport, more work still needs to done. In most cases our children risk their lives daily, to and from school, because the vehicle transporting them is not road worthy.
The necessary policies are in place but the implementation of ensuring proper monitoring of service providers is a failure. It must also be recognized that although much effort is put into transporting scholars outside a 3km radius in rural areas, children living in squatter camps within the urban areas also walk more the 3km to schools due to lack of transport funds. The bicycle project must also be driven much better to deserving students.
The DA regards last week’s SOPA as a contract that the Premier has entered into with the people of KZN. Where the Premier has made promises, we will hold him to them and will closely monitor the progress of such announcements to find evidence that they are being implemented.
There can be no more politicking or playing games – not while the people of KZN remain poor, jobless, unsafe and without the services that are their basic right.
Issued by Zwakele Mncwango, Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature, 2 July 2019