by Ismail Obaray MPL – DA alternate spokesperson for the Office of the Premier
Date: 29 June 2017
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature today by the Democratic Alliance’s alternate spokesperson on the Office of the Premier, Ismail Obaray MPL, during the debate on the budget of the Northern Cape Office of the Premier.
The role of the provincial government is straightforward: to ensure that services are delivered to residents and to ensure that there is an environment for job creation. An accountable, transparent government which is responsive to the needs of our people begins with the Premier, as she is the executive authority of the province.
The Office of the Premier sets itself the goal of improving the provincial government’s performance through coordination, strategic leadership, integrated planning and oversight. As the Democratic Alliance, we support this mission. For service delivery to take place and the provincial economy to grow, we need a premier’s office which gives guidance and ensures that provincial departments play their part.
Unfortunately, it does not appear as though the budget proposals will best support the realisation of these goals.
In fact, the budget debates from the provincial government illustrated clearly that too many preventable challenges have derailed service delivery while too many external factors are blamed for poor economic performance.
Where is the coordination between sister departments when learner transport has collapsed and when infrastructure projects are not delivered on time and within budget?
Where is the strategic leadership when senior management positions in the administration remain vacant? The expanded unemployment rate in the province is 43%. The provincial administration must focus its energies on stimulating economic growth and creating an environment which allows for sustained job creation. Yet the two main departments tasked with economic development has had acting heads since 2014! As the head of the province, it is of paramount importance that the honourable premier appoints capable, suitably qualified people to management roles.
Where is the integrated planning when the provincial policies and strategies needed for integrated service delivery never realise? How many more delays will be encountered with the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy, the Provincial Human Resources Plan and the Integrated Disaster Management Plan?
Where is the oversight when provincial public entities and agencies are allowed to operate outside the law and ignore their intended purpose? In his response to questions from the Standing Committee, the Director-General from the Office of the Premier admitted that the Premier’s Bursary Fund uses more than 50% of its allocation only to pay salaries. It knows that money meant for deserving students is being channelled to officials’ pockets, it knows that the agency is no longer fulfilling its intended purpose, but it is still unwilling to intervene and rectify the situation.
The budget proposals from the Office of the Premier does not give us the strong assurance that coordination, strategic leadership, integrated planning and oversight will improve during the financial year ahead. Without this assurance, we are not convinced that any of the preventable service delivery failures highlighted in the provincial budget debates will be addressed going forward.
The budget proposals include a number of reports, which could be used to improve the provincial administration, but there is no clear indication that recommendations from these reports will be implemented or that any corrective action will be taken to ensure that challenges highlighted in reports are resolved. For example, the Office of the Premier intends to submit reports on Service Delivery Improvement Plans within the provincial administration. This type of report could indeed be a valuable tool in identifying, resolving and even preventing challenges which undermines service delivery. But if the recommendations are not implemented, if departments do not act on the suggestions, it merely becomes a report for the sake of having a report.
When hospitals are operating without water, when we have the highest dropout rates in the country and when the provincial youth unemployment rate is 36%, we cannot afford to allocate resources for compiling reports which then make no meaningful impact.
The Democratic Alliance believes that the Office of the Premier can play a key role in the development of the provincial economy and the improvement of service delivery. Unfortunately, the budget proposals do not give the sense that this role will be strengthened and enhanced. We, therefore, do not support the budget vote.
Ismail Obaray MPL
DA alternate spokesperson for the Office of the Premier
082 380 2128
071 251 5558