The removal of Jacob Zuma from the highest office in the land felt good.
The nation collectively breathed a sigh of relief at the removal of a man who has been found wanting on numerous occasions in his tenure as President of the Republic.
The elevation of Cyril Ramaphosa, and his narrative of inclusivity and nation building was the sort of thing that after years of vacillating and looting would reinvigorate the mood of many despondent South Africans.
And while it is easy to get carried away with ourselves, and embrace the Cyril Dawn, let us not forget that a hard road lies ahead of us still.
Some would say that it is unfair to knock a man before he gets out of his corner and while I would usually tend to agree, our fate cannot be determined by a good feeling or a general good mood.
Our path must be chartered by the cold hard facts that are presented to us, it is our collective duty to face them head on, and not to shy away when critical analysis and frank discussion is required.
Ask the people of Gauteng about new beginnings under the ANC and they will tell you that once the dust settles, after the parades have gone, that there is little to celebrate.
In 2014 Gauteng Premier David Makhura was the provinces Cyril Ramaphosa, after the Jacob Zuma era embodied in Nomvula Mokonyane.
A New Dawn was proclaimed. A supposed clean and effective government that would modernize, re-industrialize and transform the fortunes of the 13 million people of Gauteng was to be ushered in.
Restorative justice for the previously disenfranchised, a new hope for the marginalized built on the back of an economy that would soar to new heights through township procurement and massive industrial programmes which would get people to work.
A safer society that would protect our loved ones, keep our children from harm. A caring society that would look after the sick, the elderly and those who could not fend for themselves.
Four years later, the golden dawn beaming with hope has turned into a winter of discontent.
Likewise, the honeymoon period of Big Mac Cyril is starting to come to an end.
The creep of ANC patronage and horse trading has once again entered the fray, putting the organisation before the needs of the people.
In his cabinet reshuffle on Monday, many of the faces of corruption, incompetence and constitutional delinquency were re-shuffled to keep the factionalism of this divided ANC content.
It was not the clean sweep needed for a real ‘New Dawn’
Premier Makhura, I would like to know from you, how will the main actors in the theatre of State Capture usher in a new dawn? The simple answer is that they won’t. While I believe the President to be a man of good intentions, at the end of the day, these intentions play out to what is best for the ANC and not the people of South Africa.
Similarly, in Gauteng, within your cabinet, Premier, you are beset on all sides by those who hinder the advancement of a better future for the residents of this province. In your address on Monday you indicated that Zuma had not supported your administration thus hindered you on delivering on the projects that would have improved the quality of life for Gauteng’s residents. In your midst you have Zuma deployees , are you going to rid your cabinet of the deadwood or are you like President Ramaphosa going to keep these useless MEC in office, in order to appease the faction? You are one man in an organisation that is divided against itself, and a house that is divided cannot stand.
The Zuma years plunged this nation down a road of discontent and malaise, but Premier, you were a member of the ANC during this time. Did you take a stand to arrest the rot? Did you take a hard line against those devouring our nation bit by bit? No, you put the organisation before the people and sat idle while many of your comrades looted.
Given all that has happened, and your deafening silence, it is disingenuous of you to proclaim that it cannot be business as usual when your lethargy has allowed events such as the Life Esidimeni tragedy to take place right under your nose.
It is a great act to own up to the mistakes that one has made, and while you have indicated that you have taken accountability for this tragedy – the reality is that you have not.
The honourable thing to have done would have been to have fallen on your sword and recused yourself from office. It is my sincere hope that all those implicated in this shameful event are brought to book and face severe punishment.
The hallmark of your administration Premier Makhura will be the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients; that is what you will be most remembered for.
And as we lurch from one crisis to another let me point out that Gauteng is facing a massive economic crisis. The prognosis is grim.
The most recent expanded unemployment figure for Gauteng sits at 33.6%. This is an increase of 1.6% year on year. What makes the reality of this shocking figure more dire is the fact that there are an additional 205 000 people of job seeking age that have entered the fray in the last year. According to the 4th Quarterly Labour Force Survey for 2017, year-on-year Gauteng has shed 77 000 jobs.
I’m sure you have been economical with the facts Premier, but quantifiable figures don’t lie. While your efforts with the Tshepo 1 Million project have gone some way to assist young people in job placements, with 2 million young people looking for work, it is evident that there is a jobs crisis in Gauteng.
In 2014, we were introduced to the catchphrase “radical economic transformation” by this administration. Let us be frank in this August house, in the four prevailing years, there has been little that is radical and even less that has been transformative.
43% of black African males, and 56% of black African females of working age in this province are unemployed.
Infrastructure was touted as a game-changer that would unlock the potential of this province and reinvigorate the economy. More jobs for all. But when we zoom into the figures lauded by the Premier on Infrastructure, it is evident that it has little to do with the efforts of Government and all to do with private sector investment. Those bogey men of the ANC, the ones in a free market, have unlocked the infrastructure opportunities of this province, not government.
In fact, much of the infrastructure owned by this government is falling into a state of disrepair due to a lack of sustained maintenance. It is all well and good to build new infrastructure, but without proper and regular maintenance – assets such flagship schools and clinics will soon become liabilities and of no service to the communities which they are meant to serve.
As is evident from the unemployment figures mentioned earlier, and specifically the high rate of unemployment experienced by previously disadvantaged communities, it is evident that little has been done to redress this trend.
In the same vein, little tangible progress has been made to address Apartheid Spatial Planning.
Premier Makhura, you indicated that 31 Mega City Projects have been approved for the next five years and will yield 700 000 housing opportunities. This is a fanciful dream given that in 3 years only 60 430 housing units have been delivered. At the current rate of delivery, only a 7th – 100 716 units across these 31 Mega Cities, will be delivered in 5 years.
Given that the average inward migration to the province averages at a rate of 200 000 people per annum, the pace at which these projects must be delivered must be sooner than five years or it is highly probable that many thousands of the provinces homeless will remain in the hell-holes of informal settlements - subjected to inhumane living conditions.
Our people need a place to call their own, a place that will afford them the opportunities that come with ownership and security of tenure. Under MEC Paul Mashatile, the Human Settlements Department has become an empty vessel. This year R150 million will be returned to treasury due to under-expenditure, this is the second time under his watch that money has gone unspent.
As MEC Mashatile’s takes up his new role in the ANC, it is critical that he vacate his MEC post and be replaced with someone who has the interests of our people at heart.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is upon us and it is our duty to ensure that future generations are adept at technology if they are to succeed in a world that will be mostly alien to many of us sitting in this chamber.
While the initiatives taken to introduce technology in classrooms and make use of a Gauteng based network across departments is certainly a step in the right direction – more needs to be done to ensure that digitalisation becomes a reality for residents across the province.
It is evident from the Department of e-Government’s performance that under the ANC digitalisation for the masses will not be achieved. By the third quarter of the 2017/18 financial year the department of e-Government had underspent on its budget by 16%.
Only R861.1 million out of R1.461 billion, or 59% of the envisaged 75% target, has been spent thus far.
This has had a major impact on performance.
Three Gauteng government departments and two provincial entities, which were to be connected to cloud packages for the quarter under review, have not been linked and the common platform on which departments are meant to operate has not yet been tested.
There are still numerous challenges connecting sites to the Gauteng Broadband Network and there is still an inability to make use of end-to-end networking between departments.
Technological advancements make the work of government simpler, more cost effective and improves the lives of residents through better service delivery outcomes.
The lacklustre performance of this department under the guidance of MEC Creecy is a testament to the fact that this ANC administration is void of tangible outcomes and is simply not up to the task of connecting citizens, allowing them to become global participants in a rapidly evolving digital based world.
Another area in which this government is failing to plan for the future is by ensuring that children are the beneficiaries of a high standard of education. While the province may have the highest rate of learners in school, this does not equate to a high number of learners leaving the education system with a Matric Certificate.
Retention rates are low. The national dropout rate currently sits at 38.4% but if that number is expounded to the number pf pupils who actually make it through their final year, this number is closer to 47%, In Gauteng, the dropout rate sits at just shy of 41%.
This is a horrific figure. Without a basic education, one cannot go very far in life. Retention rates need to be addressed seriously by the department. The simple fact is that while some schools in the province have received tablets and smartboards to improve quality educational outcomes, there are many schools that are still struggling to simply afford learners basic equipment and provide a conducive environment for teaching and learning.
It is my wish that the Department of Education takes a serious stance on getting the basics right. If we are to turn the tide on school dropouts, it is vital that learners find themselves in an environment that will encourage their development and make them want to stay in the system.
We must also ensure that a hard stance is taken on the numerous interruptions to learning by the ANC’s alliance partner SADTU. Union meetings and other activities held by union members during school hours must come to an end.
Premier Makhura, you must ensure that your administration gets tough on SADTU because no child must have to go a day without education because of wanton teachers.
And while I am on the topic of evading responsibility, Premier Makhura let me highlight your lacklustre approach to clean governance.
You established an Ethics and Anti-Corruption Advisory Panel to assist you in the fight against corruption, but tell me Premier Makhura – will any of the advice offered to you by this panel be acted on? Or is this another smoke and mirror show in an attempt to appease the minds of the public, of whose money this administration has been so careless.
In 2015 the Public Service Commission reported on wide-scale mismanagement of public money and corrupt activities in the Province. Shockingly only 3% of individuals found guilty were prosecuted.
Premier, you are right that the rate of unqualified audit opinions has increased in the last year, and how government is on the right track – but this is an economical spinning of the truth. The devil is in the detail and a closer inspection of the annual reports of departments show how targets are often not met, fruitless and wasteful expenditure is incurred and how this government is often subject to costly legal battles.
Yet those who are responsible for this mismanagement are never brought to book.
On the back of this, it is hard to believe that you have the stomach to make a meal of those who are fleecing the system and hold those in your cabinet and senior officials in departments accountable.
Consequence management must be the first step taken in arresting the rot. Not another talk shop.
Premier, I welcome your call for a lifestyle audits of members across the political divide, but I think its pertinent that you make this mandatory for all members of the executive council and staff in departments. If you want to go after those who are improperly gaining from their positions, it is best to start with introspection. I would go a step further and include all of us Members in this August house to undergo such lifestyle audit, soonest.
The Premier’s pronouncement that he will engage with President Ramaphosa regarding the future of the e-Toll system in Gauteng must be welcomed. It is no secret that the DA has been the leading voice against this unjust taxation of our roads. We have long argued about the negative socio-economic impact that this has had on our citizens.
But it must also be noted that we are weary of the Premier’s remarks as he has traversed this road before to no avail because of the political shortfall would ensue if the ANC admits to this failure.
We cannot be fobbed off with another half-hearted line about e-Tolls. In 2015 the Premier along with President Ramaphosa simply tried to re-invent the e-toll wheel which offered no respite to the people using our roads.
Be warned, this trick will not be welcomed a second time.
On the topic of public discontent, it is vital to have a discussion around the issue of crime in the province.
According to the most recent crime stats, Gauteng is the most dangerous place to live in South Africa.
Sadly, we experience the highest rates of murder, hijacking and robberies experienced at home. Year on year robberies at people’s homes increased by 10.6%.
Crime is now reaching us in the very places that we are meant to feel safe. It is an abysmal picture and quite frankly this administration appears to have no tangible plan to arrest the situation.
The people of Gauteng are crying out for an intervention. Due to the lacklustre performance of the South African Police Service, people have started to take the law into their own hands. Premier, are you aware that there are 330 cases of vigilante killings unsolved in the province? Do you know that in the last year 40 firearms were stolen from SAPS members?
Anarchy is unfolding and there seems to be no end in sight.
What is needed is a clean-up of SAPS. The reintroduction of specialised units to fight the ever-growing socio-economic problem of substance abuse, farm murders, hijackings, and criminal syndicates that have taken hold of the province. We need smart policing that make use of technology to outwit, outsmart and arrest the bad guys.
In the coalition governments that the DA run, we have started to implement these steps and it is bearing fruit. The same must now apply across the province, and come 2019, a DA-led government will ensure that this happens.
I am concerned by your remarks on foreign nationals operating in townships. While there is the need to ensure that residents of this country are not squeezed out of business or denied opportunities by illegal foreign nationals – it is of critical importance that the vetting and shutting down of illegal stores is done in such a manner that the flames of xenophobia are not fanned.
There are many hard-working foreign nationals in this province who have come here through all the legal channels and contribute to our society. They deserve to be treated with the same respect that we afford one another. Premier Makhura, I am warning you to tread lightly on this matter because if you don’t, you may end up with more blood on your hands.
We have heard numerous promises made by the Premier – some new, some old and his undertaking to ensure that these are fulfilled in his last year in office. Given that he has already been in office for four years, it is unlikely that many of these promises will come to fruition.
As a parting thought, let me share some thoughts on governance in this province.
In 2016, the DA became the leading coalition partner in three additional municipalities over and above Midvaal which is a model of success for how a municipality in Gauteng should function.
We lost control of Mogale City because of the shenanigans by the ANC who spent more time fixated on who controls public money than delivering services to the residents who for many years had been on the receiving end of ANC mismanagement.
This did not break our resolve, instead it reaffirmed our belief that the people of Mogale deserve better. We work tirelessly for the people of Mogale and across all regions where there is a DA footprint because we are here to serve. That is our duty.
In the City of Johannesburg we inherited a Metro on the brink of fiscal collapse. Looting and pillaging was endemic and through our commitment to fight corruption and bring those pilfering public money to book, we have seen an increase in morale and tangible outputs that are now enriching the lives of our residents. The delivery of title deeds, electrification of forgotten areas, an increase in Metro police and adoption of a pro-poor budget are just some of the things Mayor Mashaba is doing to get Jozi to work.
In the City of Tshwane we have made inroads to provide services to those who had been neglected by the previous regime. We have revised our EPWP policy to make work opportunities more accessible to a wider audience than a few ANC elite, we have sold off the Mayoral mansion to build homes for those who are still waiting on ANC promises. Fiscal consolidation has seen us save and re-coup millions of rands through the cancellation of dodgy agreements and the abuse of the tender process. Even Premier Makhuara has lauded Mayor Solly Msimanga for the outstanding work done in Tshwane.
Across the municipalities where we are in coalition, we have seen first-hand how the ANC is not a party of the people. It is a vehicle of self-enrichment for an elite few who leach off the backs of ordinary people.
Our time in office in these municipalities has vindicated us as a party of the people, one that upholds the sanctity of the individual to pursue a life that is meaningful through the opportunities afforded by a stable, safer, cleaner and more proactive style of governance.
In 2019, when residents head to the ballot box, they will have a choice between the old system – one that is self-serving, or a total change, which will herald a bright future of a prosperous province that will begin to unlock its true potential.
I thank you.