A time for urgent implementation of ideas

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today.  

Thank you, Hon. Speaker

Mr. President,

Mark me down as disappointed.

Last week Thursday you were due to appear before the Members of the National Council of Provinces to answer questions of national importance.

When we saw the notice calling a Joint Sitting, we were of course disappointed that you would not be giving account to the nation through the elected representatives, and yet we hoped that you would be taking the country into your confidence in the speech to the Joint Sitting.

Well that did not happen! Instead, just like the SABC, with no new material, we got a re-run.

Mr. President you had the chance to give us all hope. To show that decisive leadership had emerged from the crises caused by lockdown.

To prove that you are in charge, and not some faceless committee.

Sadly you chose to rebrand existing ideas and not address the hard
issues.

A Tweet that I read summed it up well:

“Even the Rand turned to the other channel halfway through that SONA speech re-run.”

So let’s reflect on why it was necessary to re-run SONA.

The fact is Mr. President, you have given us direction each time you deliver your State of the Nation Address and that is where we heard all the components of last Thursday’s speech before.

But your cabinet has ignored your SONA instructions.

Why has the broadband access not been released by Minister Stella (Ndabeni-Abrahams)?

What about sorting out e-Tolls?

Gender-based violence remains largely unaddressed, and in fact worsened under lockdown.

Infrastructure instructions are not taking traction and are being used for corrupt ends.

And the issues around power generation, unbundling of Eskom, and creating capacity for growing our country were ignored until last
week.

The core problem, Mr. President, is that your cabinet is not implementing your vision. They continue with their transgressions uninfluenced by your instructions. Either this is a sign of an administration in their comfort zones, ignoring political guidance due to their ability to baffle politicians with voluminous documentation and frustrate interventions with technicalities.

OR

It is a case of an Executive who is not taking instructions from their
President.

Either way Sir, you need to take control, and this is your chance.

Thank heavens for the opening, albeit reluctantly, of the electricity supply regulation published last week. Your minister defied you since SONA Mr. President. What have you done about that?

What about the broadband auction that has been promised for 10 years?

It is common cause that access to fast and cheap internet improves an economy by between 2 and 5% and is a great leveller. Yet, the Honourable Stella, and Nomvula Mokonyane before her, have defied instructions from presidents to release bandwidth. What have you done about that?

You are the President. Preside. And let there be consequences for those who do not do your bidding. Shuffle the cabinet if you need, to assert yourself and save the nation.

The power plays within the African National Congress have held South Africa back for far too long and have caused us to stagnate, all because you are too cautious to take a stance that will weaken your political position.

My colleague, the Honourable Hill-Lewis, has addressed the issues of policy uncertainty and the need to stabilise investor and international sentiment. EWC, nationalisation and monopolisation are not favoured in modern politics.

We need to get back to basics and remember what core to Government Responsibility is. Look for the enablers! Electricity. Infrastructure. Bandwidth and Quality Education.

The ego-driven projects and the self-flattery must stop. This is what we hoped you would announce last Thursday. Cut the unnecessary spending. Stop the theft by locking up the crooks on your benches and
in your departments.

The “Goose that lays the Golden Egg” is in Intensive Care. There is nothing left. Every programme in the budget of every department needs to be re-evaluated, and where necessity cannot be shown, the project must be cut.

This is a time for urgent implementation of best ideas, not rhetoric.

The Developmental State has become the Survival State. That message needs to go to every Minister and every department.

The developmental state is a worthy ideal, and redress is key to building a cohesive South Africa, but survival is more so, and the effect of  sovereign debt default will be devastating to developmental projects in the longer term. Short term pain for longer term gain is the only option.

Do the right thing Mr. President, and we will support you. You will find allies where you never expected, so long as you have South Africa at heart. So long as you put South Africa first.

But continue to dilly-dally around important matters and you will isolate yourself further. Continue to place the ANC before South Africa – a strategy that seems to have failed you so far both in your presidential duties as well as in the ANC – continue to place South Africa second and you will be short on support. Yours is a lonely position. You need all the friends you can get.

Mr. President you have followed the advice of the DA on unbundling Eskom, and now finally agreed to allow municipalities to procure power elsewhere (though it took a court case for this to happen.) The DA’s insistence that the public sector wage bill needs to be cut has now even been acknowledged by COSATU as an imperative. Is it not time to take some other suggestions from the DA in the interests of saving our economy?

Three important Private Members bills have been proposed, one, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill to ensure controlled spending, another bill to ease the regulations around access to pension funds to allow South Africans some flexibility to navigate through these unprecedented times and the third, to outlaw cadre deployment in order to ensure the efficient operation of government without the rampant corruption that has become synonymous with the ANC government.

Let us get beyond the politics and pass the bills for the sake of our people.

In summary Mr. President, you need a new cabinet that can take our
country forward, we need new thinking to adapt to the changed world,
we need a government that will fulfil the promises to take South Africa
forward out of this mess.

Your move, Sir.