by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
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Date: 30 March 2019
Note to Editors: The speech below was delivered by the DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate, Andrew Louw, during the launch of the Provincial Manifesto at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre, Kimberly.
Ladies and gentlemen
What a privilege it is to stand in front of all of you, here, in the very place where the Premier has so many times delivered her state of the province address.
As I look out at this sea of DA support in front of me, I can say in no uncertain terms, that the tables have turned.
Just like a field of Namaqualand daisies in full bloom, the elections are ripe for the picking for the DA in the Northern Cape.
Today Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre is blue but, come the 8th of May, the Northern Cape will be blue too.
This, fellow citizens, is the only hope for our run-down province, that has become characterised by poverty, unemployment and broken government services.
The legacy of the treasure seekers, who once upon a time flocked to Kimberley to dig for diamonds, still persists in the Northern Cape. Only now, the treasure seekers are tenderpreneurs, who got their prospecting rights to plunder government jewels, through their ANC connections.
In effect, everything that the ANC government in the Northern Cape does, is driven by the desire to enrich those in the golden circle, and to protect the patronage network, as opposed to empowering the people whom the government is meant to serve.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a government with ulterior motives.
If you think that the new mental hospital, that has yet to be operationalised and was built at a cost of R2 billion, was constructed to increase access to mental health care services for the province’s growing number of mentally ill patients, then think again.
If you think that the R43 million invested in the Maloof Skate Park, and subsequent Maloof Money Cup skateboarding competition, was developed to put the youth in sport and to boost tourism, then think again.
At first glance, these seem like noble deeds. However, in reality, they were simply convenient covers for scheming, money hungry thugs, like John Block, to acquire government contracts, to elicit bribes and to cling to power.
The cost of corruption in the Northern Cape is massive.
Under the ANC, the provincial government had R7.2 billion irregular expenditure over the last five years due to corruption, fraud and mismanagement.
With R7.2 billion we could have built 45 000 RDP houses, with flushing toilets and water, and handed over title deeds to people in the Northern Cape, just about eradicating the province’s massive housing backlog of 53 097.
The impact corruption has on communities is debilitating.
Residents of Kathu and Olifantshoek, continue to go without water, half a year down the line, because Gamagara Municipality consistently fails to pay outstanding debt to Sedibeng Water Board. Yet, the former acting Municipal Manager drives luxury cars and is known as “Mr Maserati”.
Residents of Homevalley, in Kimberley, live amongst sewerage ponds, which at times reach their front doors, because the R100 million intended for sewerage infrastructure upgrades and expansion in Sol Plaatje municipality, got diverted into the pockets of patronage.
And of course, Eskom, which gets R23 billion in the new financial year, can’t keep the lights on anymore because the ANC has stolen it bankrupt.
Corruption must be stopped on the 8th of May. But only your vote can stop this wastage of taxpayers’ money.
Only your vote can enable the DA to act against corruption.
The DA will get rid of corruption by creating a new, independent and fully-resourced anti-corruption unit, staffed by specialist prosecutors and investigators.
The DA has already proven that, unlike the ANC, we don’t tolerate corruption.
A classic example is the new anti-corruption unit that DA Mayor Herman Mashaba established in Gauteng. The unit has uncovered R17 billion in corrupt activities. His unit has also investigated more than 2 400 cases of fraud, corruption, theft and maladministration in just one year. As a result, there were 362 arrests, 15 suspensions and 27 dismissals.
There is no doubt that Eskom needs some of this corruption busting juice.
The energy crisis is perhaps the most compelling reason yet, as to why it is so crucial that you use your vote to bring about change in the Northern Cape.
Instead of fixing the problem, Ramaphosa is throwing diesel at an already explosive situation. This means that the relief that we are currently experiencing in terms of rolling blackouts, is just temporary.
Imagine days, weeks and even months without electricity because this is what the next five years will look like under the ANC government.
Now is the time for radical change within the energy landscape.
Let us not forget that while the Northern Cape has diamonds in our soil, we have the Cullinan of all diamonds in the sky up above – the sparkling sun.
In fact, this province, with Upington and De Aar being the frontrunners, receives the most incoming solar radiation in the country.
The DA will therefore waste no time in reducing the province’s key dependency on Eskom and ensuring that we diversify our energy sources.
While, 59 out of 112 renewable energy projects are already being hosted in this province so far, they have not yet transformed the Northern Cape landscape into the green economic hub that it should be.
In the meantime, South Africa is desperately in need of new, cleaner baseload power.
Currently, 70% of SA’s renewable energy manufacturing takes place in the DA-led Western Cape, resulting in our country being the fastest growing green economy in the world, according to Moody’s.
Imagine the additional benefits for the Northern Cape, which is twice as big, if we could amplify this programme.
Imagine how many jobs could be created.
Well, under my leadership, we will not wait for Eskom to switch on the lights.
Instead, the DA will launch a renewable energy revolution in this province.
In fact, I have already looked at examples like Feldheim Municipality in Brandenburg and Ascha Municipality in Bavaria, in Germany, to partner with the Northern Cape to make this province ready for the green economy.
I am also excited to announce that I will also soon lead a delegation to Germany with the intention to make a model town in the Northern Cape that is 100% dependent on renewable energy.
Ladies and gentlemen, change is not only coming to the Northern Cape, it is happening as we speak.
The DA will look to develop Special Economic Zones at Upington and De Aar to facilitate the establishment of solar technology manufacturing hubs. This will help create sustainable employment opportunities for the Northern Cape, especially amongst the youth.
The DA would further develop the knowledge base required to grow the solar sector and to position the Northern Cape as the global hub for the deployment and industrialisation of solar components.
Mass deployments of solar will not only provide clean and supporting energy to the grid, but can boost the local manufacturing of solar components, support job creation and also create an avenue to export excess electricity and know-how to neighbouring countries.
Other areas of focus for job creation would be around wind generation, with future projects promoted in these areas as well.
The potential for additional hydro-electric power schemes will also be investigated.
We are on the verge of a new era, that will grow our economy and bring down our 38,6% expanded unemployment rate and our 43% youth unemployment rate.
With your vote, the Northern Cape does not have to be classified by Adzuna as the hardest province in the entire South Africa in which to find a job.
Instead, the DA will work hard to ensure that this province becomes a province of opportunity. We will also work hard to transform the Northern Cape into a work destination of choice, for our children and our grandchildren.
I am determined to get this right, for all the disillusioned young people, who aimlessly wonder the streets daily.
I am determined to get this right for the young woman who feeds her child sugared water from a jug, because her breastmilk dried up due to there being no food in the house.
I am determined to put a job in every home in the Northern Cape.
This can be done.
The ANC may have killed business but the DA can create an environment conducive for economic growth.
Aside from the Northern Cape’s sun, this province is also a treasure chest of minerals just waiting for beneficiation.
According to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the the world receives 7% of its diamonds from the Northern Cape and 13% of global demand in zinc and lead accordingly.
This province also has copper, mineral sands, gypsum, granite, asbestos, semi-precious stones and marble.
The DA will therefore focus on mineral beneficiation as a major job creator and enabler in the province.
Constraints to beneficiation, such as policies, access to raw materials at developmental prices, infrastructure, limited innovation and required critical skills, will be addressed. This will entail developing partnerships in fields such as copper smelting zinc beneficiation, iron and manganese beneficiation.
The end goal will be to develop iron, zinc and manganese refineries within the Northern Cape, particularly in Postmasburg. Postmasburg is currently also the railway hub of Transnet and dispatches the 200-wagon train daily to Saldanah Bay for the export market.
As refineries are heavily energy intensive, these refineries would be linked to independent power producers in the renewable energy strategy.
Water infrastructure related challenges in Tsantsabane Municipality will also have to be relooked.
With large mining houses procuring R18 billion annually, according to the Northern Cape provincial government, there is also massive scope to focus on procurement as a major driver of job creation in this province.
The DA will therefore also look to develop a mining services network that would cover aspects of technical mining services, catering, transport and entertainment for local procurement with a focus on developing a logistical hub in Upington, linked with the solar manufacturing hub already mentioned.
The DA would further embark on an investment drive, largely focused on mining and renewable energy.
I will therefore waste no time in calling for a Northern Cape Investment Summit to unlock foreign direct investment.
In the Western Cape, 299 foreign direct investment interventions have unlocked R100 billion and created 19 000 new jobs.
The DA is ready to make this happen in our province as well.
We know how to attract and retain investment, unlike the ANC who only knows how to attract and cling onto corruption.
I will therefore make it my personal mission to address the many challenges faced by local businesses. Many are looking at relocating or taking job creating expansion elsewhere. Their trucks get damaged on our potholed roads. The lack of water in the pipes threatens their business operations. In short, they cannot afford to keep up with ever rising business costs.
Instead of kickbacks for government employees, we will offer tax breaks and tax incentives to entrepreneurs and investors to kickstart and expand their businesses.
We will increase funding assistance to small businesses.
We will do away with red tape that stifles growth, as well as remove blockages that make it hard to conduct business.
The DA will also create job centres in every town, for unemployed young people and the men who wait on the side of the road to find a “skrop werk”. These centres will provide information, advice and free internet, enabling jobseekers to be informed of opportunities and providing them with an avenue to apply for jobs.
Some of these steps may sound simple, but they are the steps that the DA has taken where we govern and where great success has already been achieved.
The DA has created the most jobs in South Africa, with over 500 000 jobs created in the Western Cape since 2010.
This shows that while the ANC talks the talk, the DA walks the walk.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are a party of action, a party that gets things done.
Given that agriculture is a vital industry in the Northern Cape economy, with extensive job creating capacity through new investment, the DA will strive to further advance this sector.
In this regard, it is vital that the province adds value to its agricultural produce. As such the DA would focus on attracting investment into agri-processing plants.
We will put government departments to work to create a more conducive climate for agri-business. This includes quick fixes, like getting additional graders to farming communities such as Niekerkshoop, that cannot optimally get their products to market because of shockingly poor road conditions.
Physical access to markets is a key factor in the success of this industry.
The DA will therefore also upgrade tar roads in rural areas, notably those linked to tourism and agriculture centres, as a matter of urgency.
We will further look towards improving the role that rail transport could play to improve market access in the Northern Cape.
Agri-processing hubs will also be connected to the major agriculture centers, in a hub and spoke model, which would ease access to markets.
Market access support will also be provided.
We will clean up the Northern Cape Economic Development Agency for it to be able to promote agricultural products, both domestically and internationally, to attract investment and to partner with provincial and local governments to improve market access for small-scale farmers and land reform beneficiaries.
We know that policy certainty is a precursor for any investment. This province will immediately reject expropriation without compensation and protect property rights.
At the same time, we will give title deeds to those who live on communal land.
We will release government land that is not being used for land reform and housing needs.
We will create voluntary incentivised partnerships with farmers so that farmworkers can own shares in the farms they work on.
We will also prioritise the speedy settlement of all land claims.
We will give support to farmers.
We will implement an advanced satellite information tool, like the Western Cape’s FruitLook system. This system provides farmers with free weekly updates on crop growth and crop water use, to enable them to maximize the quality and quantity of their crops.
Given the Northern Cape’s harsh climatic conditions, we also will create a drought portal, providing all stakeholders in the agricultural industry with up to date, practical and useful information to help mitigate the impact of drought conditions.
Such a portal has borne fruit in the Western Cape, which still managed to create 10 000 jobs in agriculture and agri-processing sectors since 2015, despite the drought in the Western Cape.
We will sell off the state-owned Kalahari Kid Corporation, which has remained stagnant for 15 years, despite it having the potential to create thousands of jobs. Placing the commercialisation of the goat industry in the hands of a diversified group of private stakeholders, who will bring an end to the bail outs and encourage competition in this sector.
Through these initiatives, and more, we will add more jobs to the Northern Cape economy and decrease the desperate tide of poverty that has robbed too many people of the opportunity to live happy and fulfilling lives.
Through these and many other initiatives, including creating safe communities, speeding up basic service delivery and securing our borders, we will change the face of this province.
Imagine living in a clean and safe environment, where our children can play outside in fresh air.
Imagine people not going to work worried that they might be robbed out of desperation.
Imagine you sleeping without being concerned that strangers may break into our house.
Imagine living in a community free from drug lords who expose young children to the evils of our society.
Imagine living in a town where more people work than those who don’t.
Imagining living in a city or province where job opportunities are available.
Imagine nobody ever needing to worry about their children having to emigrate elsewhere to find a job.
Imagine if poor and sick people can get access to quality healthcare services.
Imagine living in a city where your taps never run dry.
Imagine living in a town where potholes are fixed within 48 hours. In fact, it is because of all the unfixed potholes in this city, that the DA has commenced with our Pothole Fixing Campaign across Kimberley, at our own cost.
These are the things that the DA is striving for.
Lend us your vote on the 8th of May and put us to the test.
Only the DA can bring the change that we need.
Only the DA can build One South Africa For All.
DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
082 383 6914
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387