Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane’s State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Tuesday was nothing new – just more empty promises like the ones the ANC make every year.
In his 1946 essay titled: Politics and the English Language, writer George Orwell said “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” This is the tactic Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane used on Tuesday to shy away from the true State of the Province.
In her first official SOPA address (July 2019), the Premier made a number of promises that did not materialise:
- She promised to facilitate an investment in alternative sources of energy in the Province. The aim was to reduce the dependence on Eskom’s grid and also create opportunities for SMMEs. This was a time when we were faced with rolling blackouts visa vie job losses; and if it had been implemented it would have been a great achievement for our Province. Following the announcement, Eskom still remains the sole provider of electricity in our province and no steps were taken to bring in alternative energy producers;
- Acceleration of title deeds and the rapid land release programme. For the past 5 years, if not more, the Department of Human Settlements in the province has struggled with issuing title deeds. There is no record of the rapid land release and no additional land or title deeds were issued under this initiative;
- In terms of Local Governance, the Premier made a promise to invest in eradicating water leaks and sewer spills. Water is still leaking from our taps in Lekwa, eMalahleni, Dipaleseng and Thaba Chweu local municipalities. All state-owned wastewater treatment plants are presently polluting our rivers and land;
- Accelerate the eradication of pit latrines in our schools yet Mpumalanga still has 84 out of 127 schools with plain pit toilets. The department has planned to eradicate these backlogs by 2030 with a cost estimate of R42.3 billion;
- She said there shall be a zero tolerance of ill treatment of our people, however, with more than R7 billion rand in medical negligence claims against the department of health, not a single healthcare official or HOD has been held accountable so far.
Usually during SOPA, Premiers mention their government’s achievements for the previous financial year. But in her SOPA on Tuesday, Mtsweni-Tsipane failed to mention any of the provincial government’s achievements so far. This clearly shows there’s none.
We expected the Premier to state that between 85 to 90% of people in the province have access to water. But in fact residents of Bushbuckridge, Steve Tshwete, Govan Mbeki, Nkomazi, Mbombela, and Ermelo go for days, weeks and months without a stable water supply.
In her SOPA address the Premier also failed to mention the violent service delivery protests that are currently taking place in many municipalities. People are complaining about water, sewage spills, electricity and housing.
In delivering, in particular housing, the provincial government falls short. The Human Settlements department continues to under deliver on its housing targets, and the housing backlog continues to increase. It can’t be acceptable that the housing backlog in the province stands at 147 000 houses, which might take 13 years to address. This effectively means that should someone apply for housing today, they will only receive a house in 2029.
She also failed to mention any projects from their cash-cow called Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA), the Cultural Hub, the High Altitude Training Centre, and progress on the much anticipated International Fresh Produce Market.
People may wonder how the DA delivers the best services in the country. It is through rooting out the evil that is corruption.
It doesn’t help to simply talk about corruption, one has to root it out, and unfortunately, this administration is not serious about fighting corruption.
Mpumalanga is on the brink of a crisis. This crisis can only be averted if the people of this province stand up against corruption, stand up against nepotism, stand up against tenderpreneurship, stand up against poor service delivery, and vote for the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the upcoming local government elections.
Premier Mtshweni-Tsipane’s SOPA was just another copy and paste document from previous speeches. Nothing else.
The true State of the Mpumalanga province is one where the expanded definition of unemployment has increased to 39.4%. This means that jobs are so scarce that more people in the province have given up looking for employment. As the DA, we have a 5 point plan that seeks to grow the economy and improve the lives of people.