KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature – Virtual General Budget Debate – Tuesday 2nd June 2020 Hon VF Hlabisa – IFP President and leader of the Official Opposition in KZN

Hon Chairperson
Hon Members

On behalf of the IFP I want to start by saluting all men and women who are the frontline soldiers in the fight against Covid-19. Our condolences go to the families of all the deceased 705 souls who have succumbed to this deadly virus. Although we know that a storm is yet to come as we also see the growing figures of infections, we find comfort on the constant of almost by half of recoveries for weeks now.

The Inkatha Freedom Party, like all the other political parties that were represented in the constitutional making process from the Interim Constitution in 1993 and the new constitution as promulgated in the national parliament in 1996, the IFP contributed a number of proposals. Amongst these, was a proposal for the establishment of provinces with powers to be able to sustain themselves financially through taxation powers. The IFP proposal for the establishment of  provinces was accepted but the powers to impose taxation was rejected.

Today, Hon Chairperson, we are bearing the brunt of that rejection of a noble and visionary proposal that was kicked out for purposes of centralization even where there was no need to do so. In South Africa, provinces are solely reliant upon the national fiscus for their survival. In reality Provinces as they stand angokhamisa ngithele. Financially they can not survive nor stand on their own. Many municipalities are in a much better position than provinces because they can collect rates and charge fees for services.

Provinces are expected to close the gap of development inequalities that was created by the separation policies of the apartheid government. After 26 years into our democracy, the development ambiguities in South Africa still remain so clear between the rich and poor, between the urban and rural, between the professionals and general labour force, between and amongst the different racial groups. Against our wish the 2020/21 budget will in no way come any closer towards closing this gap. But because this is what the national fiscus has allocated to this province this year, there is nothing we can do but make do with what we have, no matter  how little it may be.

For a very long time rural and township schools as they are today will still remain lagging behind with no proper sanitation facilities, no libraries, no laboratories, no IT rooms,  no clean water. Rural and township clinics will also continue to suffer the same fate.  Rural roads will continue on a trajectory of gravel fate and township roads will still bear the brunt of potholes. Rural and township police stations will again look like ghettos with no improvements in sight. There is a lot more that will still continue to look the same deep into the galloping years of our democracy which is not young anymore. Our provincial budget compounded by the budget cuts is failing to meet the development needs, expectations and aspirations of our people.

For these reasons and many others not mentioned here, the ethos of doing more with little becomes the most reasonable thing to abide by. The ideal of our administrations in all departments in respecting the rule of law and playing by the book needs to be our guiding principle. Our meagre resources are further burdened by the government officials who breach protocols and fail to follow legislation to the letter, especially in the spending patterns. As this House, Hon Chairperson, we need to always follow the principles of oversight role effectively, in order to protect the little that is allocated to our province so that our communities can get the full benefit of it.

The vultures who rob our citizens the benefits of development and government services through fraud and corruption must be made to face their music. We will follow closely as we would want to see justice done on the controversial purchase of R22 million of blankets by Social Development Department. To this effect, consequence management must play a pivotal role in the management of our province Hon MEC Pillay, and it is your department, together with the Office of the Premier, that is a lead department in this regard.

Hon Chairperson, the IFP is concerned with the slow pace of investigations on government officials that are charged with wrong-doing. Some of these investigations date as far back as 2010 or so. The IFP is concerned with a slap in the face on the officials that are found guilty of wrong-doing. In order for the province to thoroughly clean its administrative performance, consequence management must play a vital role in our administration. We must bring to an end the continuation of the practice whereby an official that has wronged one department resurfaces in another prestigious position of another department or government entity a few months down the line.

At the presentation of the 2020  appropriation bill to the House on 26th May, I did point out the importance of monitoring alignment of budgets to the APPs of the departments. I pointed out the importance of Hon Members in the portfolio committees monitoring the spending of their departments so that it is in accordance with the plans approved. If the spending patterns of the departments do not respect the plans that they themselves have presented to the committees, government is doomed to fail.

Members have noted cuts effected into our provincial 2020/21 budget and I do want to add our voice to the same concerns. We also note with concern the allocations to job evaluations every year which end up not being undertaken. That is cause for concern, chairperson. We are also alive to the pressures imposed by the arrival of COVID 19 whose financial imperatives will still need to be considered.

Hon Chairperson, I wish that we all respect the rule of law and ensure that everyone else in this province is obliged to do the same for the sake of the progress of our province.

I thank you.