Dying diggers of Namaqualand need saving
|by Andrew Louw, MPL – DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader|
|Date: 21 July 2020|
|Note to Editors: The following is an extract of a speech delivered by Andrew Louw, MPL during a House Sitting of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature this morning. Attached please find soundbites in English & Afrikaans.The Office of the Premier is the engine room of provincial government. It not only needs to ensure that government departments are in good shape, but also that they are in the correct shape.On this note, I acknowledge the work being done by the Office of the Premier in reconfiguring departments.This is long overdue.Government administration has become both expensive and cumbersome, at the cost of service delivery. We see nurses and experienced educators, sitting in offices, where their skills and talents are lost to those who need them most.We see bulky government offices, in dire need of millions of rands of endless maintenance, upgrades and expansions, when this money should rather be invested in upgrading our dilapidated schools and ill-equipped health facilities, that have been thrown into the spotlight by the pandemic.Hon. Premier, we all know your passion for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Well, due to Covid-19, the future came early, forcing us to adapt as individuals and organisations, and accelerating our buy-in of technology.Hon. Premier, this presents you with a massive opportunity and a great responsibility.It gives you the greenlight to speed up the transformation of provincial departments into a leaner and more efficient provincial government; and to shed traditional workplace roles that see warm bodies doing 9-5pm routines, with little or nothing to show for it, other than a few dirty coffee cups.At the same time, it opens up the way to boost government productivity, with an output-based strategy that is not restrained by four brick walls and redundant job descriptions, but is instead empowered by innovation and creativity.This requires of the Hon. Premier to further hasten your drive to modernise government’s Information Communication Technology infrastructure.I acknowledge that the R100 million “Refresh” project has hit a bump in road due to SITA inefficiencies. But rather sooner than later, before more money is wasted.While the funding is still available, I urge you to push harder to find an alternative solution for the upgrading and expansion of government’s ICT capabilities. As you conceded, there has been an under-investment in the ICT domain, we cannot afford for this trend to continue.Hon. Premier, as the provincial champion of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the onus is also on you to ensure that government looks outwardly at significantly expanding internet connectivity to the general public.Yes, the Department of Economic Development is working towards expanding broadband internet connectivity but you, Hon. Premier, must push for data price decreases, and look towards entering into partnerships to ensure that at least 500 mega-bytes of free data per month is made accessible to registered jobseekers, registered matrics, registered NSFAS students, and students from low-income families.Speaking about students, Hon. Premier, I commend your initiative to ensure that 100% of the money availed for student funding, actually benefits students.It makes no sense, as you say, to have over 50% of student funding being paid to staff members who are administering the fund.|
So long as you will ensure that the allocation process is fair and transparent, and is for the benefit of all students in need, regardless of their skin colour, then I welcome this move.Hon. Premier, the issue that you have raised in respect of funding being misdirected towards administrators, as opposed to core mandates, is not unique to the Northern Cape Premier’s Education Trust Fund.We have and continue to see this very same trend throughout government, from implementing agents receiving huge junks of disaster funding intended specifically for the procurement of animal feed, to large portions of EPWP money being spent on programme facilitators, as opposed to it being spent on actual stipends for project workers.There are many more examples.I urge the Hon. Premier to give attention to this transversal “middle-man trend”, that government can simply no longer afford to finance if it wants to see results.Every last cent must be directed towards outputs, not tasks, and must be accounted for.I note the progress in respect of the Provincial Growth and Development Plan. A document like this will always be in flux but it must start to translate into action now, otherwise, like so many plans that have come before it, it will be worthless.Hon. Speaker, as the legislature, I am sure I speak on behalf of all committee members when I say that, from now on, we want a regular update on the implementation of PGDP.Of course, total implementation may be hampered due to the Covid-19 lockdown, but there are no doubt aspects that you can start with. This is essential given the ever-growing rate of poverty and unemployment in this province.In closing, I want to impress upon the Office of the Premier the ongoing need for consequence management.We accept the Hon. Premier’s commitment to deal firmly with every case of financial irregularity that comes to your attention. At the same time, we ask that this Office also takes a more proactive stance in sniffing out corruption and dealing decisively with it, in respect of the monitoring of the anti-corruption framework.After all, the key to the future success of the Northern Cape province lies in clean and efficient governance, that is driven by the political will to see all people of this province prosper.Hon. Speaker, the DA does support Budget Vote 1. This said, we expect the Office of the Premier to conduct proper oversight over other sector departments to ensure that they become functional.