Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi
Premier Lesufi is very big on promises in his State of the Province Address (SOPA), which will no doubt raise the hopes of Gauteng residents. At the same time, he has placed an enormous responsibility on his shoulders to deliver on his promises. Gauteng residents deserve improved lives in a safe, growing, corrupt-free, job flush and loadshedding free environment.
Unfortunately, most of the promises he made today were repeats of what he and his predecessor had said before.
Gauteng residents have still not reaped any of the benefits of Premier Lesufi's bold promises when he took office late last year.
He again made bold promises of e-panic buttons being made available to Gauteng residents. This is so they can press the panic button when in danger.
However, this lofty dream does not inspire confidence when our online school placement system, introduced under Premier Lesufi's tenure as MEC for Education, is still not functioning properly.
Furthermore, Lesufi promises that the government will connect suburbs, townships, business districts, schools and other public places with high-tech systems for face and car recognition. But, again, his record on this creates doubts about the successful implementation of this project.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is increasing, and we welcome the special fund that has been allocated to respond to this scourge.
Once again, a commitment has been made to ensure growth in this province's township economy. However, when we look at our quarterly reports, the spending on our township economy is often not achieved. Instead, there should be a focus on cutting the red tape that inhibits the growth of township businesses. We must allow our small businesses to flourish without going to bigger companies to get a tiny piece of the pie.
Nothing new has been said about connecting our residents to the Gauteng Broadband Network. We need to know by when this will happen and what the budget is that has been set aside. Firm timelines must be put in place.
In terms of funding for NGOs and NPOs, more than R2 billion has been received from the government. Yet we are daily inundated with complaints that NGOs and NPOs are not receiving the money they need to run their daily operations timeously. Nothing has been said about how this will be fixed.
The billions pledged must reach the intended beneficiaries. On this, the DA will hold him to account.
The money allocated to building new schools is a step in the right direction. For a long time now, the Democratic Alliance has been pushing for new school infrastructure to be built. On many of our oversight visits to schools across this province, we have seen that our school infrastructure is old and in dire need of replacement.
Furthermore, we note that this government is happy to build increasingly more infrastructure while our current infrastructure for schools, hospitals and libraries is falling apart because of a lack of regular and proper maintenance.
Gauteng residents have once again been told that e-Tolls have been scrapped. But the devil is in the detail, and we need the Premier to explain precisely where the money for the province's portion of the debt will come from and why it has ballooned so much.
The consultation will now begin concerning the formation of a provincial state-owned bank. We are concerned that this bank is just a duplication of other entities in the province that already provides a range of services to small micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs). Another state entity creates more opportunities for cadre deployment than economic development.
Loadshedding is crippling our economy, and we note that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) will be releasing R1.2 billion towards solving the crisis. We welcome this and urge the GPG to utilise the funds to end loadshedding.
The DA will be closely monitoring the implementation of Premier Lesufi's plans—particularly those aimed at uplifting the economy, alleviating loadshedding and putting less strain on our water supply.
In addition, we will submit a detailed list of questions on the scrapping e-Tolls, the plans to reduce the red tape of small businesses doing business with the government, and the delays in NGOs and NPOs receiving their funding.
Our residents deserve a government that not only puts promises down on paper but follows through on them. We need this province to be restored to its former glory.
Issued by Solly Msimanga MPL - Official Leader of the Opposition-Gauteng