by Andrew Louw – DA Northern Cape Premier Candidate
Error! Filename not specified.
Date: 21 February 2019
The DA is disappointed, but not surprised, by the utter lack of substance offered by ANC premier Sylvia Lucas today in her State of the Province Address. What she announced today remains a combination of empty promises and populist rhetoric which confirms that the failing ANC is just a broken bus destined to drive our province off a cliff.
There was no accountability to speak of in her speech, but just an attempt to deflect attention away from the fact that the ANC has failed the Northern Cape. She talks about provincial priority goals, but the achievement of these goals cannot be seen anywhere on the ground. She talks about good governance, but the rampant corruption in government departments and in municipalities shows that she is disingenuous.
If there is political will, if there is a desire to serve the public and not the politician, a single term is not too short to make a difference. We cannot continue to blame apartheid for the shortcomings created by a corrupt and failing ANC. Just look at the difference made by Herman Mashaba as mayor, whose newly launched anti-corruption team uncovered R17 billion in corrupt activities and investigated more than 2 400 cases of fraud and corruption in just one year. Or look at how quickly the DA launched the first metro policing unit in the Nelson Mandelay Bay metro while the municipality was still within our control. And look at how the Western Cape continues to create jobs and economic opportunities for communities.
But while the DA works so that our people can work, the ANC sets up summits and workshops to divert kickbacks to cadres rather than to empower deserving entrepreneurs.
We are not a destination of choice and Kimberley is not a city of firsts.
The true legacy that Lucas leaves behind as outgoing premier is one of high unemployment, including the second highest youth unemployment rate in the country. It is a legacy of non-existent infrastructure, roads which consists only of potholes, and pipes which burst more often than they provide water to residents. It is a legacy of housing shortages and stock outs of medicine and medical supplies. It is a legacy of corruption which steals the money meant for service delivery, especially the delivery of basic services to communities which have been forgotten and left behind by an uncaring ANC government.
Corruption is a cancer which steals opportunities. Her two sentences on corruption shows that neither she nor the ANC is serious about fighting corruption, never has been and never will be. Indeed, the fact that she chooses to make a joke about criminal assaults and death threats against one of our DA MPLs, who is a champion against corruption, is a new and despicable low for her both politically and personally. How can whistleblowers take her seriously when she talks about their safety when she finds death threats against an opposition MPL so funny?
We know the provincial chair of the ANC says there will always be a home for convicted fraudster John Block, who stole money from government, in the ANC. We know the premier reported Mac Jack to the Hawks and still retains him, as MEC for Finance, in her cabinet.
Indeed, this is the type of Thuma Mina which just sends a crook to catch a thief!
The failing premier of the failing ANC could not adequately address the dependence of social grants in her address. Our province is the one where households are the most likely to run out of money to buy food before the end of the month. In yesterday’s budget speech, the various grants increased by as little as R20 a month. This is hardly enough to buy a litre of milk and a loaf of bread.
Yet the plans outlined by the premier are just enough to keep people dependent on the state, not to empower them as entrepreneurs and not to drive sufficient economic growth to stimulate and sustain job creation. The plans she is so proud of are only for the short term and cannot provide lasting relief for poverty and unemployment.
Inadequate and crumbling infrastructure, high electricity tariffs, ongoing challenges with water and sanitation, a lack of transport planning, and just plain poor planning from the ANC-led government has created obstacles for business which, in many cases, are proving to be insurmountable.
And with the ongoing crises experienced by Eskom, far more needs to be done to correct deficiencies at municipal level for businesses to prosper.
We know from yesterday’s budget speech that growth and investment remains simply too subdued to allow for significant job creation, especially for new entrants to the job market. It is welcome that the premier has finally heard what the DA has been saying for a long time, namely that skills being offered are not always matched by the needs of industries in the province.
But when the allocation of bursaries from the provincial government remains politically influenced, we know that many deserving young people will continue to be excluded from further education or from skills development programmes. Indeed, her utterances on youth unemployment shows a fundamental lack of understanding of the nature and causes of the ongoing economic exclusion of our youth.
And it simply surpasses our understanding how the ANC premier can proudly announce the suspension of bursaries for social workers, considering the dire need for these skills in our province. This is especially critical for children placed in foster care or to safeguard the welfare of victims of domestic violence. A caring government does not remove the very same skills needed to build a safety net for the vulnerable members of our society.
Social workers also play a key role in preventing crimes against children and women, so how can we take this premier’s vague commitments to genderbased violence seriously?
Indeed, we can see that the only commitment the ANC has is to corruption, fraud and state capture!
While there are indeed opportunities for economic growth within the legalized marijuana and liquor industry, we also know that there are already worryingly high levels of substance abuse in the province. The levels of FAS are already at the highest in the world in regions such as Roodepan, Galeshewe and De Aar. Our youth are further at risk because of high unemployment levels and low levels of economic inclusion.
It is our social responsibility to make sure that any economic growth in this regard does not come at the expense of our people’s health, especially considering how few facilities are available for the treatment of substance abuse and how poorly capacitated the Northern Cape Liquor Board is to implement the provincial regulations for the liquor industry.
It is only the DA which can bring a change to the Northern Cape. In 2016, millions of South Africans showed that change was possible when they voted for the DA and accordingly brought change to three of the biggest cities in the country. Let us bring this change, which our communities deserve, to the Northern Cape too!