Honourable Madam Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe
Honourable Madam Deputy Speaker Nomvuyo Mhlakaza-Manamela
Honourable Premier Panyaza Lesufi
Honourable Members of the Gauteng Executive Council
The Citizens of Gauteng
Madam Speaker, listening to the Honourable Premier’s speech on Tuesday evening, one could say it was memorable. But that is not because it was the Honourable Premier, Panyaza Lesufi’s maiden address, but more so because he started by conceding to reality, wherein he outrightly admitted that people have lost confidence in what the government says, simply because they talk more and do less. So, it was refreshing to listen to the state of the Province Address (SOPA) delivered with an honest and emphatic tone.
The Honourable Premier was honest in his speech, in so far as he openly admitted that, and I quote: “…our province is a home of heartless and merciless criminals. They do as they wish.” The sentiment that crime is pervasive is not lost to any ordinary citizen in this province, because our freedom of movement is curtailed and almost held to ransom by criminals. Indeed, the crisis of violent crime now affects every aspect of our society. It has become so excessively common that it has even permeated our schools.
The sophistication of some of these criminals can be seen on conventional and social media platforms, where they jam cars, clone bank cards, and hack online systems for sensitive information. We, therefore, welcome the innovative plans proposed to combat crime in the province. In particular, the use of technology, including CCTVs, e-panic buttons, surveillance drones, an additional fleet of 400 police vehicles, the deployment of 6 000 additional men and women, and partnering with private security companies to help with crime prevention, is commendable.
During his speech, the Honourable Premier also stated emphatically that under his leadership, this government will work to ensure that it is inclusive, by committing more resources to the improvement of living conditions in our townships, informal settlements and hostels, as well as for the homeless, amongst other plans. In this area, the IFP is optimistic, though cautiously so, since we have heard this record played over and over. People in this province can ill afford another promise from the government; they need real action. As the Bible, in Ecclesiastes 5:5 reminds us, “It is better not to promise anything than to promise something and not do it.”
We have, on many occasions in this House, issued a clarion call to the government to make its pronouncements a reality, particularly in hostels, informal settlements and townships. Like all citizens in this province, the residents there deserve a dignified life with access to basic services. Akungakhulunywa ngezinququko zokuletha intuthuko empilweni zabantu, kodwa kulokhu akenenze kubonakele. So please, Honourable Premier, next year asifuni ukuzwa an apology to hostel residents.
Equally so, we also noted the Premier’s declaration to invest more in the township economy by spending 60% (=R20.4 billion) of the provincial government’s R34 billion Procurement Budget on businesses from the township economy, which follows the adoption of the Township Economic Development Act.
In addition, we also note the R1.2 billion investment earmarked for efforts to resolve the energy crisis in the province, which will see to the construction of a 800 Megawatt solar farm in Merafong. While noting these plans, the IFP reiterates its call for Eskom’s monopoly to be dismantled so that provinces and municipalities can generate their own electricity.
Madam Speaker, as the IFP, it is in our DNA to give credit where it is due, rather than criticising for the sake of doing so. Our positive response to the Premier’s announcement that e-tolls have finally been partially scrapped, illustrates this. We have repeatedly warned the government that the e-tolling system is irrational and unworkable, but thankfully sanity has prevailed.
The Honorable Premier rightly stated in his address that the people of Gauteng are not difficult people. They do not want to see their money being stolen through corruption, as has so often happened in the past. They just want to simply see this government use their taxes effectively and efficiently.
In conclusion, this SOPA was not short on plans, but now people want to see them implemented. I hope that the MECs and all officials will heed the Premier’s call and get Gauteng working again. And we, as the Honourable Members of this House, shall continue to do our work of ensuring that you are accountable to the people of this province.
I thank you.
Bonginkosi Dhlamini MPL
IFP Gauteng Chairperson
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