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Monday, 27 February 2023: The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State Province (FS) congratulates Comrade Mxolisi Dukwana on his election as Premier of the Free State, on the basis of a mandate given by the movement in the province. The SACP has confidence that Comrade Dukwana will steer the provincial and local government delivery machinery towards prioritising selfless service to the people, especially the suffering working-class and poor. We urge that an Alliance-inclusive democratic consensus-seeking process of consolidating a comprehensive provincial leadership collective be followed as well as on providing overall political management of governance.
Expectations from the State of Province Address (SOPA)
The SACP in the Free State expects the state of the province address (SOPA) by the new Premier on 28 February 2023 to be action oriented and output driven, with clear monitoring and accountability mechanisms. The SACP expects the Premier to embrace and consolidate any good aspects of the outgoing executive and hopes for a decisive break with elements that have been responsible for curtailing the pace, quality and intensity of service delivery and developmental initiatives in the province.
The SACP expects a more focused, coordinated, and intensified implementation of government programmes and initiatives, taking into consideration principles of cooperative governance. In this regard, we expect that the Premier’s maiden SOPA will set out clear immediate and short-term programmes and impactful interventions aimed at improving the lives and living conditions of the people of Free State; and signal medium and long-term major programmes and developmental initiatives. The SOPA should inspire confidence and demonstrate emergence of a new visionary, daring leadership on developmental issues and ethical leadership on governance.
The remaining months of the current administration must be characterised by a sense of urgency and immediate implementation of high-impact, labour-absorptive developmental and basic service delivery and developmental initiatives that address the pressing challenges faced by our communities.
On basic service delivery
Our municipalities in the province are clearly confronted by many challenges on different fronts. The province must play its role in providing support and capacity enhancement in this area with the aim of turning local government around. This requires a decisive political and governmental leadership intervention to rid municipalities of wrong elements and tendencies geared towards restoration of selfless service, mainstreaming of Batho Pele principles and consequence-driven accountability by those given responsibility to lead both political and administrative arms of the government in the province.
The provision of basic service delivery and maintenance of infrastructure has, by and large, collapsed in several municipalities, including fulfilling basic obligations such as payment of third parties, bulk services and salaries in some instances. The SACP urges the new provincial leadership to coordinate with municipalities on mass-employment interventions that target and augment municipalities on provision of basic services, infrastructure maintenance and new developments. The timely payment of workers for their labour power and their third-party contributions is non-negotiable.
On tackling unemployment, high cost of living and the provincial economic recovery
Society, made up largely of working-class and poor communities are stricken by ever increasing high cost of living and continue to be ravaged by worsening crisis levels of underdevelopment, poverty, unemployment, with the expanded unemployment rate for Free State standing at over 40. Such hardships are now compounded by the collapsing provision of basic services that used to offer some cushion to the poor. These need deliberate government intervention, relief and cushioning.
The SACP urges that the SOPA should provide funded initiatives aimed at building the solidarity economy, taking into consideration the skills profiles of the unemployed in the province. These should be anchored on supporting cooperatives, SMMEs in various mass-employment sectors; and must include a deliberate intervention supporting and protecting the township economy to ensure internal circulation of money and local commodities within our communities. To fight poverty, the SACP encourages support for establishment of food gardens and subsistence farming as opposed to food parcels.
The SACP urges the Premier to address the problems of conditions of employment and settlements for farm workers. The brutality and exploitation of farm workers, including their inhumane invocations requires urgent provincial government intervention.
Skills development programmes are needed to increase the employability of the people of the province, especially the youth. Broad infrastructure maintenance offers long hanging fruit to unlock service backlog, address unemployment, develop skills and secure functional government services.
The SACP also calls for strategic, bold interventions in the economy that will alter the ownership patterns in the province. This requires a daring leadership approach to economic transformation, ensuring the development and expansion of our productive forces and capacity. Our advantageous geographical location must be exploited beneficially, in infrastructure development and initiatives of economic productive activities that will also serve to attract new skills, including ending the current skills outflow from the province. Economic recovery initiatives must include re-investing in reviving production in various industrial notes across the province, which are currently non-operational.
Water, healthcare, human settlements and tackling corruption
The SACP expects the Premier to announce mega-projects aimed at addressing the dire water supply challenges in several areas within the province. These should include initiatives to partner with our neighbouring country Lesotho; and should include providing integrated water supply infrastructure within our water catchment areas. Water is life and must therefore be supplied consistently to our people. Water and Sanitation challenges in various parts of the province require urgent investment in water infrastructure to handle both supply challenges and sanitation problems.
The SACP calls for speedier implementation of NHI, and in this regard, we expect all our health provision facilities in the province to already operate in line with ethos envisaged within the NHI regime where selfless service and principles of Batho Pele guides our professionals. Urgent interventions are needed with regards to required equipment, needed expansions, additional health personnel and review of managerial capacity within the health sector. Health facilities such as Boitumelo Hospital do not offer hope to the sick who expect assistance from our facilities for their constitutionally guaranteed right to life.
During the SACP Red October campaign, the SACP came to realise that there remains countless incomplete housing projects throughout the province. In many instances, government records indicate that houses have been completed and handed over, in which full budgets for such houses were spent. However, on the ground, there are literally no houses, and, in some cases, only foundations that existed for over a decade have been built.
Related to this, the SACP expects the Premier to announce a coherent approach to helping the people of Jaggersfontein and Allandridge, who remain without promised help and struggling; and holding the mining operation responsible and accountable for the tailing dam burst. The SACP expects government to lead the process of developing and implementing a recovery plan of action, including investment initiatives in disaster stricken areas and underdeveloped areas to trigger economic and productive activities.
The SACP expects the SOPA to address the problem of incomplete projects within the province, including outlining a merciless approach to investigating corruption and holding those responsible legally accountable.
Whereas the shameful corruption cases related to the asbestos removal looting are still ongoing, the SACP calls on government to initiate a separate process to remove these asbestos roofs that continue to expose families to health risks. Families cannot be allowed to suffer due to the corrupt activities of others.
In this regard, the SACP calls on the Premier to initiate life-style audits on deployees, managerial personnel and persons working within the supply chain fraternity at various levels of government. Relevant law enforcement agencies must be commissioned to investigate and arrest those aiding and running parasitic patronage networks within our local and provincial governments.
The SACP cautions that the new leadership changes should not amount to a mere personnel change but that the change must translate to decisive actions that permeate and are seen through changing the lives of the people of Free State for the better. The spirit and project of unity and renewal must be extended to our communities and must also engulf our democratic government and those deployed must be tolerant and accommodative of the views of society, including the voices of workers and their representatives.
Issued by The SACP Free State Province