At the beginning of a new decade we once again find ourselves in familiar territory:
- responding to the Premiers State of the Province Address filled with promises of things to come,
- responding to a speech that only pays lip service to the extent of the challenges we face,
- responding to the words of a Premier refusing to take full responsibility for falling short on all his previous pledges.
As servants to the public it is important to that we are people true to our words. What we say as members of this legislature is powerful as we carry the hopes of millions of South Africans who voted for us. So, we should not be callous in how we speak, we must not speak of things that we will not do.
In the recent State of the Province Address by the honourable Premier David Makhura, we were subjected to a repeat performance of his past SOPAs. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I want to see a repeat, I can watch the Generations Omnibus over the weekend. What we require from leadership is not more empty promises, but a proper account of what you have done. The challenge for the Premier is that in giving a proper account of past goals set in his previous SOPA, is that he will expose his strategy of ‘rinse and repeat’. We are tired of listening to a broken record.
On Tuesday, the Premier dusted off his last SOPA, while tweaking some words here and there; but ultimately, we were subjected to roughly 90% of previous speeches. New Day, Same Old Wishlist. Unfortunately, the lives of Gauteng residents cannot survive on wishes Premier Makhura, they rely on concrete solutions that will feed the empty stomach, give dignity to the jobless, and provide shelter to the homeless.
Premier Makhura in your SOPA on Tuesday you presented grandiose ideas as if they were fresh, however we have been hearing you speaking about things such as the Aerotropolis, the Industrial Parks, Special Economic Zones and Renewable Energy for the past five years. There is nothing new you are saying about many of these projects, all you are doing is slapping lipstick on a pig and hoping we wont notice honourable Makhura.
The Aerotropolis which has been a topic of discussion for over a decade is a white elephant that has seen taxpayer money being devoured on fruitless overseas trips. You speak about the consolidation of Ekurhuleni as Africa’s largest Aerotropolis, but you have not provided much detail on the progress over the past ten years in this endeavour.
Madame Speaker, the Premier is late to the game on energy policy. He has applauded the pronouncement from the President to allow municipalities to procure electricity from private producers, outside of Eskom’s monopoly. However, the Premier failed to acknowledge that it has been the DA which has been pushing for this, while the ANC has dragged its feet in an effort to secure Eskom’s tyrannical grip on our economy, as it operates as a vessel for cadre deployment. He now mischievously calls the attempts by the DA to allow municipalities to procure power independently from Eskom as playing politics.
The President’s pronouncement is much welcome, and we look forward to capable municipalities coming out from under the thumb of Eskom to ensure energy stability. However, as is often the case when it comes to the ANC whether nationally or in Gauteng, there is a lag between what they say and their actions. We hope Premier Makhura will not cower from facing the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Gwede Mantashe. Premier Makhura must ensure that the national Minister does not drag his feet with regards to allowing municipal energy independence through private energy procurement. The national Minister has shown a lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy; we hope that Premier Makhura will work with the DA in pushing the Minister even through legal efforts to come to the table in terms of diversifying our energy mix. Alas, the Premier’s performance in serving the interests of Gauteng residents over the ANC, does not bring much confidence as we have seen in the e-toll saga.
The Premier once spoke about ensuring that all government buildings would have solar panels, as an example of his commitment to renewable energy. This has not been realised, which makes his talking about plans for a low carbon future for Gauteng ring hollow.
Honourable Makhura you have once again spoken about the pivotal role to be played by Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones in the economy. In 2017 you made promises about industrial parks in Khutsong and Chamdor, however, to date these industrial parks are still not operational. Another sign of unfulfilled promises by the administration of Premier Makhura.
The Premier cited a report published by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA), the ‘Indlulamthi Scenarios 2030’ published by the institute in 2030. The report presented three scenarios facing South Africa rated good, mixed and bad, each titled ‘Nayi le Walk’, ‘Isbhujwa’ and ‘Gwara Gwara’ respectively. The Premier sees us as being currently in the ‘Isbhujwa’ scenario which is a position where “There are flickers of hope and moments of despair as the country zigzags forward and backwards. Change is happening but not fast and deep enough”. I think the Premier has sanitised what MISTRA says about the ‘Isbhujwa’ scenario. The institute describes this scenario as one where we have “a South Africa torn by deepening social divides, daily protests, and cynical self-interest”. This sounds eerily like what President Cyril Ramaphosa, has called the nine-wasted years, years of ANC rule.
Furthermore, as bad as this Isbhujwa scenario sounds, for many South Africans, the lived experience is actually worse. Many South Africans would be more familiar with the ‘Gwara Gwara’ scenario where the Premier says “things get worse on every development indicator, leading to a total breakdown of public order fuelled by anger at the dysfunctional self-serving state, rising poverty, increasing inequality, rampant corruption and an unrelenting climate crisis”. Indeed, the picture painted in the Gwara Gwara scenario, of a dysfunctional self-serving state, rising poverty and inequality and rampant corruption, is where many residents of Gauteng would say we are.
Madame Speaker, the major reason why we find ourselves in a cycle of repetition is because we have a culture of non-accountability. The problem of consequence management has been highlighted by the Auditor General in reports of various Gauteng Provincial Government departments. The Premier stood up on Tuesday, talking passionately about dealing with corruption and setting up lifestyle audits but his historic record indicates that he is a leader unable to get his subordinates in line.
Pablo Picasso once said “What one DOES, is what COUNTS. NOT what one had the intention of doing”. While Premier Makhura may use his words to paint visions even more beautiful than the best works of Picasso, we will judge him based on what he actually has done for the people of this province, we will measure him on real world progress rather than blue-sky thinking.
Our country is in a terrible economic situation Madame speaker, and while it is affected by global realities the problems we face are exacerbated by the numerous failures of the ANC government. Honourable Premier Makhura since 2015 the expanded unemployment rate has gone from 32.8% to 35.3%. This growing unemployment rate has happened over years of your repeated promises. You are failing to tackle corruption and poor management in your administration, and you are failing to take a strong step against job killing trends such as our vulnerability to loadshedding, and crime that deters investment and tourism.
On this side of the chamber we will work hard to make this a decade of change. We will not falter in our role as opposition in holding you to account, in shining light on empty promises and bad governance. We will be resolute in serving the people of this province.