The following debate was delivered today in Mbombela by Jane Sithole MPL, the Leader of the DA in Mpumalanga Province, during the debate on the state of the province address (SOPA).
Hon. Speaker, I stand before you today proudly representing my Political party, the Democratic Alliance.
Hon Premier, it is a sad fact that you have become the master of saying the right thing, things you believe the people of our Province want to hear, but which are grossly contrasted by your government’s inability to either understand what you are saying, or simply lacking the ability to implement the bold promises you make.
Hon Premier, it appears that the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT) is now the new Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA)!
Hon Speaker, in 2014, former Premier Hon. DD Mabuza now the Deputy President announced a plan to develop 5000 artisans in five years through MRTT. Three years later in 2017, converted that to a three-year apprenticeship program and said that it will develop 1000 artisans over the next three years. 2020 this program has now shut down!!
Hon Speaker, in the end the youth of Mpumalanga are the ones who have to bear the brunt of programmes like this which drains millions from the Provincial budget and produce nothing. I have no doubt that the CEO and board members of MRTT still get paid, still get bonuses hence they preside over failed programs assisted by government while the youth of our Province remain unskilled, unemployed and are becoming more and more unemployable.
Talking of Unemployment
Hon. Speaker, I stood here several months ago were the DA welcomed the Youth Development Fund to deal with Youth Unemployment. As the DA called for its implementation and I congratulated the Hon. Premier for adopting the DA’s model of building job centres to support and enable our unemployed youth to get work.
However, several months down the line I’m afraid that the LED desks in the various municipalities such as Mkhondo are dysfunctional and in other areas like Thaba Chweu they are non-existent. However, Hon. Speaker, the DA is still hopeful, that if implemented as the Premier announced, this province will be able to support economic growth and development and with that create job opportunities which empowers our youth. Implementation is key!
Hon Premier, you couldn’t even bring yourself to say anything about MEGA last week Tuesday, MEGA no longer holds any legitimate right of existence, it is an entity in perpetual chaos, unable to even manage their own affairs, and I challenge you Hon. Premier to mention even one project that MEGA has executed that has resulted in the creation of jobs. MEGA is nothing more than a blood-sucking entity unable to deliver on a single mandate, yet you choose to ignore this. Like turning your back on a house that’s on fire yet you are holding a fire extinguisher in your hand.
Hon. Speaker, the Hon. Premier is right in saying that the current government institutions have lost integrity and that the lawlessness, greed and selfishness needs to be stopped; however, talk is cheap and real action needs to be seen by the citizens of this Province. In July last year the Hon Premier mentioned that the use of the Auditor General’s new powers as contained in the Public Audit Amendment Act will be used to investigate corruption in the Province (as incurred by accounting officers). From one SOPA to the next, and now the Hon Premier is considering various options to conduct lifestyle audits.
What’s concerning Hon Speaker is that a vetting field unit has already been established. When are we going to stop with grand announcements and put what we have into action? The vetting field unit could root out all evil or as it stands it looks like it will become the root of all evil.
Hon. Speaker, the picture you painted when announcing the various integrated sustainable human settlements will make many residents of this beautiful province happy however this province has a bad track record when it comes to the actual building and completion of these projects. In many cases, like the residents of Siyanqoba in eMalahleni where you come from Hon. Premier, they live with raw sewer in their homes, they are provided with dirty water which even yourself won’t drink, how does this government leave the beneficiaries without water, electricity and sanitation and not ensuring these basic services are connected. Hon. Premier, have you ever driven a car without an engine? How then are people expected to live in houses without basic services being connected? How can you give a person a flushing toilet without water?
Hon Premier, Nkosi City can be a great success; however you did not mention what the economic drivers will be for this smart city? I’m looking forward to hearing in your response on Friday, what will be the economic drivers for this smart city?
Hon. Premier, in your speech in July 2019 you had no real plan to deal with the water crisis as you only touched on two water projects in the 5 year projection: the construction of a new dam on the Crocodile River in Mbombela and finalising the construction of a package plant along Moses River in Thembisile Hani. However, you never mentioned the progress of either of these projects in your address last week Tuesday.
How far is this government in building the dam or was that just another grand announcement that will never materialise? Yet again a carefully crafted untruth while hundreds of people go without water for days in our Province. Water is life and the provision of this fundamental Constitutional right must be prioritised.
Hon Speaker, it would seem the Hon Premier is not willing to act against dysfunctional municipalities such as Thaba Chweu, Lekwa, Emalahleni and many others across the Province. What could be the reason for turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the residents of Umjindi? Avoiding a problem doesn’t make it go away, it only makes it worse. These Municipalities are a time ticking bomb and need urgent attention. Residents are suffering as these Municipalities are unable even to provide clean water to residents, they can’t deliver basic services and most of them like eMalahleni are technically bankrupt, but the Hon. Premier is still refusing to act.
Hon Speaker, it is concerning that we keep on praising the department of education for the % pass rate for grade 12’s? This government is using semantics to pat themselves on the back. The sad reality is that less and less learners are passing grade 12 with more and more dropouts each year! 250 less learners passed grade 12 in 2019 than in 2018 however we celebrate a % pass rate. Furthermore in 2017 the Province had 94 103 learners in Grade 10 and only 34 995 of those passed the 2019 Matric Exam.
Hon Speaker the sad reality is that in a space of two years, 59 108 young people dropped out of school between Grade 10 and Grade 12. These learners could be trying to enter the competitive job market this year, which is already saturated, they were failed by their own government that doesn’t even acknowledge that they dropped out of school. The focus is on the feel-good stories while we ignore those who are lost on the system.
Hon Premier, the people of Mpumalanga are still waiting for the school for the deaf?
Hon. Premier in your last SOPA you announced the building of a tertiary hospital in eMalahleni and on Tuesday you announced the building of a Provincial Hospital in Mbombela? Before another grand announcement, can you give us progress on previous announcements?
Hon. Premier, what happened to the High-Altitude Training Centre and the Cultural Hub that was announced to be built in Emakhazeni and Mbombela. The Province already invested over R165 million in these projects as well as the International Fresh Produce Market and you are not saying anything about it?
Hon. Premier, I have no doubt that one day you would like to leave a legacy behind for those who will come after you. Let that be a legacy of a woman who will be remembered for her actions instead of her announcements. The DA will continue to put alternatives on the table, we will work with you and your administration in the best interest of the people of Mpumalanga. We will continue to hold you and your executive to account and that we will do without any fear or favour.
I thank you