by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader
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Date: 20 February 2019
Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered today by DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate, Andrew Louw, during the Alternative State of the Province in Kimberly. Find attached voiceclips in English and Afrikaans from Louw
Ladies and gentlemen
As we gather to assess the state of our province, I am sure that most of us would agree that the Northern Cape has become a largely forsaken and forgotten province.
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While you can’t miss us on a map, because we take up a third of the country’s land mass and stretch into the belly of this country, we are viewed more as an obstruction to overcome, than we are as a destination of choice.
We are increasingly bypassed by opportunity because of the unfavourable state of the province. In fact, we have become so insignificant that even national bus operators have largely cut us out of their routes. This is thanks to a quarter of a century worth of mismanagement of local and provincial government by the failing and uncaring ANC.
I daresay, the failing ANC government has become our people’s biggest enemy. Instead of attracting investment, they choose to attract corruption.
Government’s failure to keep a firm grip on our municipalities means that the Northern Cape has some of the highest electricity tariffs in the country. High business costs, coupled with mounting sewerage challenges, not to mention growing water problems, are impediments to growth and development.
There are currently at least six municipalities across the Northern Cape that are in the midst of water crises that are largely the result of inefficient infrastructure and financial management.
The province’s shoddy road network is another deterrent to investment and expansion, with some transport contractors even refusing to negotiate some of our rural roads. This has a major impact on the province’s ability get agricultural produce out to the bigger centres. Remember that in spite of the Northern Cape being an agricultural province, basic products are also too expensive for the man on the street.
It is ironic that, while unemployment is our greatest problem, the failing ANC government has neglected to address such core issues that have immense potential to propel job creating growth and improve the lives of the people in the Northern Cape.
The ANC’s short sightedness, their lack of vision and their inability to plan for the future, is backfiring on the people of the Northern Cape.
Let me assure you that a DA government will not turn a blind eye to matters that not only affect the quality of your lives, but also the affordability, profitability and sustainability of your businesses. This is because the DA understands what lies at the heart of economic prosperity.
In fact, with regards to the Sol Plaatje water cuts that have been ongoing since late 2018, let me tell you that even in the middle of the rare and severe drought in Cape Town’s catchment area, at no point were water cuts instituted.
The City of Cape Town’s response to the drought has now become a renowned case study that other international cities are modelling their response plans on. How unlike the ANC’s Sol Plaatje municipality, that will not even consider replacing the nightly water cuts with a partial low pressure system.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we take a glimpse at the state of unemployment in the province, we see that our expanded unemployment rate remains unacceptably high at 38%.
The Northern Cape’s youth unemployment rate, at 43%, is also the second highest in the country.
This is no surprise – according to job search engine Adzuna, the Northern Cape is the hardest place in the entire country to find a job.
It is truly heart-breaking when I visit communities and see our young people wandering the streets in the morning, sitting by the side of the road or simply playing cards because they are denied the opportunity to become economically active and because their hopes and aspirations for the future have been crushed.
The failing ANC government has not been able to reverse the trend of unemployment amongst our youth, despite endless summits and workshops in the province.
Perhaps if the Northern Cape Youth Chamber of Commerce & Industry used their conferences to empower entrepreneurs, not to enrich each other, things might have looked different?
Well, certainly, under a DA-led government, things will look very different.
The Northern Cape may have gone to wrack and ruin but the DA still sees the Northern Cape for what it is – a province of great potential.
We have everything needed for economic growth and development. From fertile soil for agribusiness to abundant minerals for beneficiation projects to a coastline for sustainable fishing and alluvial diamond mining. From endless tourism experiences offered by our beautiful biodiversity, two UNESCO World Heritage Sites and unique cultural heritage. From the research and development opportunities made possible through the Sol Plaatje University and the Square Kilometre Array telescopes, to our unique, warm hearted and colourful people.
With the right focus, we can transform the Northern Cape from the ANC-created armpit of the south, to a five-carat province under a DA-led government.
These are not just empty words.
The DA will create fair access to real and long-term jobs. Our track record shows that in the Western Cape, where we govern, we are doing just this, at the same time bucking the unemployment trends experienced by other provinces.
The Western Cape has the lowest unemployment rate in South Africa at 14 percentage points below the national average on the expanded definition.
Employment in the Western Cape also grew by 24,8% between 2009 and 2018, well ahead of Gauteng at 18,6% and KZN at 8,8%.
The DA’s successful economic track record is, to a large extent, the result of our “Red Tape Reduction” and “Ease of Doing Business” strategies, which we would waste no time in implementing in the Northern Cape.
To bring greater access to economic activity to more people, especially to our youth in the Northern Cape, we will focus on sectors with high-growth potential; low barriers to entry, and rural impact. These sectors will include agri-processing, tourism, renewable energy, green economy, small scale mining and mineral beneficiation. In this regard, we will, amongst other things, through the all-of-society approach, leverage additional support for emerging farmers, including market access and mentorship programmes, with a more than willing agricultural sector. We will also invest more strategically in the province’s transport network, as this is the lifeblood of the economy.
On a provincial level, the DA will also do the following:
We will increase funding assistance and remove blockages to ensure that small businesses can grow. This will serve to undo the current trend, as shown by SEDA, that points to the number of SMME owners in the Northern Cape having decreased from more than 27 000 in 2016 to fewer than 15 000 in 2017.
We will focus on creating sustainable job centres and SMME incubation centres that provide information, advice and free internet access to those who are seeking jobs. This will empower people who cannot afford data to have real time access to job opportunities.
We will offer special incentives to investors who meet minimum job thresholds.
On a national level, the DA will further:
Introduce a Voluntary National Service focusing on opportunities within the policing, health and education sectors. This gives one year of guaranteed income, experience and skills development for people who just finished school. As you know, there is a correlation between unemployment and skills – the fewer skills or experience you have, the more likely you are to be unemployed.
Unlike the ANC, the DA will also guarantee policy certainty by guaranteeing private property rights as well as the independence of the Reserve Bank.
Before stepping off the Northern Cape’s most critical topic of jobs, I also want to state that I will personally not tolerate the abuse of individuals seeking job opportunities from government.
While on my listening tour across the province, to ensure that I am in touch with the realities faced by our people I spoke with a young lady from Loxton, who told me that she is afraid of openly showing her support for a party other than the ANC, for fear of losing her job in the Community Work Programme.
Well, under my watch, there will be no more “baantjies vir boeties”. Job opportunities will be allocated fairly, not according to political affiliation. At the same time, those who demand cash or sex for jobs or even for interviews, will be prosecuted.
These steps may sound simple, but they are the first steps towards success. They paved the way for the Western Cape to singlehandedly create half the jobs in South Africa in the past year, and they will pave the way for us to create a job in every home in the Northern Cape.
Success in the Western Cape didn’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen overnight in the Northern Cape. But rest assured that, while the ANC talks, the DA gets things done and the DA will work very hard so that the people of the Northern Cape can work too
This is because DA governments respect the sanctity of public money and serve the people. This is in stark contrast to failing ANC governments.
We know what the ANC’s cronies and cadres have cost our province.
In fact, we have so many monuments to corruption that they can form part of their own tourism route. There is the R2 billion mental hospital that has yet to fully open its doors despite more than a decade in the pipeline. There is the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison’s Ocean Echo glass building, that defied instruction of then Minister of Treasury, Pravin Gordhan and saw government enter into a highly inflated 10-year lease with the connected owners. We have the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, that recently saw R28 million squandered on upgrades that seem to have made the facility even more of an eye sore and a hazard than what it was before the refurbishments. So, if the tour group wants to make its way down there, please don’t forget your hard hats.
We also know where government departments are used to establish patronage networks instead of empowering deserving entrepreneurs.
For a short while, it almost seemed as if the Department of Finance, Economic Development & Tourism, under the leadership of MEC Mac Jack had a genuine interest in cleaning up the rot left by convicted criminal John Block. But now, it seems that he is only interested in ensuring that the right people within the right faction receive the right share of the loot.
The Northern Cape Department of Transport, Safety & Liaison has created a pirate taxi industry running parallel to the legal taxi industry by issuing approximately 300 illegal taxi licenses. Information suggests that the official responsible for the issuing of the pirate permits is a close family member of the ANC Premier, Sylvia Lucas.
Even the ANC’s provincial chairperson and number one, Zamani Saul, publicly came out in support of convicted criminal John Block, saying that there would always be place for him in the ANC.
Well there you have it, no amount of anti-corruption talk by President Cyril Ramaphosa, will ever convince us that the ANC is serious about tackling corruption. The ANC is just the same broken bus, that was probably hotwired in the first place, with a different driver.
The DA is not interested in continuing with this pattern of corruption and state capture
Under a DA-led government, we will ensure that anyone convicted of corruption will be sentenced to fifteen years in jail. And will serve those years in jail, not in the luxury of warder’s quarters that have been specially cleaned and prepared for the stay!
So how will we stop corruption from stealing the money meant for service delivery?
Firstly, on a national level, it is the DA’s aim to establish an independent unit focused solely on identifying, fighting and prosecuting corruption. We will work with the provincial structures to ensure that this unit is properly capacitated, with adequately trained officers, to deliver on its mandate.
On the flipside of this strategy, to identify and prevent corruption, we will also encourage and protect whistle blowers who report corrupt activities within government. Throughout the years, I have personally spoken with officials who are deeply unhappy and disturbed by the criminal conduct being perpetrated on an almost daily basis by those in power. Most of them are afraid to report the crimes they’re aware of, the crimes which deprive our communities of services and opportunities, for fear of losing their livelihood or even of losing their lives. It cannot be that we live in a society where people are afraid to speak the truth. It cannot be that we operate a government where its own officials are too afraid to report the truth about its operations. Those officials who step forward to expose the rot should be encouraged.
Thirdly, to make it more difficult to continue with corruption, we will implement mechanisms to advance the transparency of government’s payments. It will be compulsory for departments to openly advertise tenders from start to finish, detailing which companies received which contracts. Every cent of government money belongs in the wallet of the South African people and should be up for scrutiny. Government must therefore give an accurate, credible receipt for all payments.
As part of keeping government’s payments transparent, we will also implement regular lifestyle audits on politicians and government officials.
Many of you here have heard me talk, time and again, about the need for politicians and public representatives to be held accountable to communities. I will therefore be the first person to submit myself for a lifestyle audit. I will also be the first to show my municipal accounts to any media outlet interested in seeing that I am not in arrears with my Sol Plaatje payments.
While I have once again said a lot, this time about the DA’s no tolerance approach to corruption, don’t just take my word for it. Do your research. Amongst other things, you will find that since having taken control of the major metro’s, our DA-led governments have shown a true commitment to eradicating corruption.
Mayor Herman Mashaba’s new anti-corruption unit has uncovered R17 billion in corrupt activities. He has also investigated more than 2400 cases of fraud, corruption, theft, and maladministration in just one year. As a result, there were 362 arrests, 15 suspensions and 27 dismissals.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is because the DA really is committed towards eradicating corruption.
This is also because the DA knows that it is crucial that public funds are spent to the benefit of the public.
On this note, let me tell you that where the DA governs, we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of residents. This is because the DA believes that all South Africans need to feel safe and be safe in the cities and towns they call home.
Very few people feel safe in their homes.
This is little wonder when considering that Stats SA’s Victims of Crime Survey, released late last year, indicates that people in the Northern Cape are more likely to become victims of robberies and housebreakings than people living in any other province.
To make matters worse, it is the perception of more than 50% of the people living in the Northern Cape that the police will either only respond to an emergency call after two hours, or never at all.
This is very unsettling, but I have personally come across this on my listening tour.
I spoke with the mother of a rape victim in Galeshewe. She told me that the failure on the part of the police to respond timeously, meant that the rapist, who had been cornered by the community, was able to escape on foot.
Based on the impressions of community members, it would also appear that police are turning a blind eye to the drug trade. This, despite knowing that drugs are coming in from across our borders and despite common suspicions that there is police involvement. We can only wonder about why this is, and who is being protected? This is another failure of the ANC government.
The DA cannot accept the state of safety in the Northern Cape.
There are still too many police stations in the province without the necessary resources, infrastructure and equipment to combat everyday crimes.
An oversight inspection of the police station in Ritchie revealed how a dire lack of police vehicles prevent the police from attending to emergency call outs and following up on cases.
Approximately 21 police stations in the province also do not have victim-friendly rooms as required by law. This constitutes 24% of the police stations in the Northern Cape, which means that 1 in every 4 communities still do not have the level of service and protection they deserve.
Disturbingly, this is the situation throughout the province.
The DA will overhaul the South African Police Service to become an honest and professional organisation that actually serves and protects all the people of South Africa.
Where we govern, we are already doing everything that we can to keep people safe.
When the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality was still under DA-governance, the party wasted no time in launching its first metro police department, with 114 new, fully-trained officers keeping the streets safer for all.
In the Western Cape, we have increased resources of the metro police and our efforts to fight gangs and drugs have carried significant results.
Unfortunately, however, provinces have limited power over policing, that is why, on a national level, the DA would give provinces real power through a provincial police force, that can be tailormade to combat province specific crime.
Now, moving to issues of service delivery.
Aside from issues of water, electricity and sanitation, that I have already touched on in this speech, there is also the issue of housing.
On my listening tour, I sat with a gentleman in his seventies from Karos. His only refuge was a tiny reed structure, that barely protected him from the elements. He told me that his greatest desire is to have a roof over his head before he passes away so that his children and grandchildren can live a life with more dignity. This touched me deeply.
While I could speak for hours on the service delivery failures of the ANC government, for the sake of time, I will only still highlight the failures in the provision of health care.
Health care in the Northern Cape has reached an all time low. The Health Department is basically bankrupt and cannot pay suppliers and service providers. Hence, out of stocks plague facilities, that are also understaffed and under equipped. Ambulances are also nothing more than shells of what they should be and emergency services are almost non-existent. Health in the Northern Cape is at an all time low.
The ANC government’s failures are killing our people.
In short, the ANC has not delivered on its promises because they have become complacent and are more concerned about enriching themselves than they are about enriching the lives of the citizens of the Northern Cape.
While I would like to elaborate on what the DA would do to solve the everyday problems that our people are experiencing, I want to encourage all of you here to sign up to receive a copy of the DA’s Manifesto, which will be officially launched in Gauteng on Saturday.
The DA’s Manifesto will focus on open and fair access to real long-term jobs; stopping corruption; accelerating the provision of basic services; securing our borders and creating an honest and professional police service.
It will go into far more detail than I could here today and it will show just how the DA is generating hope, offering a new start and bringing change that will build One South Africa for All.
You can download the pictures here, here, here and here
DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader
082 383 6914
079 2260 991