Hon M B Gwala MPL,
IFP Leader in the KZN Legislature
I must preface the debate on Vote 1: Office of the Premier by saying that this Department has the onerous responsibility of administering and overseeing the affairs of a province that is diverse in its population, challenging in its terrain, encouraging in its potential and optimistic in its outlook, BUT unfortunately it is lacking in leadership from a government that has no vision and that constantly finds itself stumbling from one bad decision to the next.
I make such a statement not without good reason. When a decision was taken to disband the Department of the Royal Household, we raised our concerns about the sustainability of the Royal Household Trust. We were given the assurance that we will be updated before Department would cease to be but this never happened.
Suddenly we got to hear that the Department was disbanded. It is obvious that this Department does not play open cards and operates in a very clandestine manner with hidden agendas. As I speak here today I am not convinced that the Royal Household Trust will be able to manage its affairs and sustain itself. I cannot understand what sort of respect is being shown to His Majesty when the affairs of the Royal House is divided up between the Office of the Premier that manages the affairs of the King while the affairs of Queens, the palaces, etc are managed by the Royal Household Trust.
The IFP is disappointed but not surprised to learn that the Premier has appointed to the Royal Household Trust Board individuals who are not familiar with Ubukhosi Institution. We believe that the board will be serving the Premier rather than serving the King. The exclusion of Amakhosi who are pillars of the Royal Household speaks volumes.
The attitude confirms the fact that the ANC led Government treats the King and Amakhosi with disdain. The process is another step aimed to frustrate the King, as the finances will continue to be in a shambles which will lead to a complete obliteration of the Kingship.
The report by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee states:-
“The Committee wants an update of how the new Chief Directorate will function bearing in mind that the Royal Household has a first charge of R2.5million which is not available for spending.”
In addition there are still concerns regarding the transfer of staff from the Department to the Trust. Since negotiations with organised labour have not been finalised, this situation can end up costing tax payers huge amounts of money.
These and other issues should have been ironed out before the disbanding of the Department but this Premier took the decision to go ahead.
Honourable Chairperson, the War Rooms concept was launched amid much fanfare and it is of concern to the IFP that an amount of R14million appropriated for the equipping of War Rooms was not spent in 2014/15. This shows that there is a lack of planning and effective management from a Department that should be leading by example.
One of the key mandates of this Department is to boost investor confidence in our province. In the face of the disruptive power outages that we are experiencing, the Premier must inform this House how his Department plans to boost foreign direct investment whilst retaining present investments. Investors require assurances that their investments will produce positive returns and this government appears unable to provide any assurances.
To make matters worse this government was too slow and too ineffective in responding to the recent spate of xenophobic attacks. When the attacks took place it was the President of the IFP, His Excellency Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi who personally went out to meet the victims and bring some relief to them while this Premier and his cabinet limped along without any plan of action.
This again showed weak leadership that will damage investor confidence.
Honourable Chairperson, in its Review of the 2014/15 financial year on page 4 concerning Protection of human rights it is stated:-
“A campaign was undertaken to protect and generate respect for human rights”
In the face of the recent xenophobic attacks, it is evident that this is another campaign undertaken by this Department that has failed. The world witnessed major cities like Durban and Pietermaritzburg representing war zones; business houses and small traders had to close shop while looters ran riot.
This Department spends huge amounts of money on war rooms and youth ambassadors but we are not seeing any positive returns for the money spent. The war rooms in many areas have collapsed and the youth ambassadors do not seem to be achieving the purpose that they are supposed – unless they are out there campaigning for the ANC while posing as youth ambassadors. Social cohesion seems to be evading us because huge amounts of money are poured into projects that are not well-thought out and not well-intentioned.
The Department also states: “These programmes are aimed at achieving one of government’s main goals, namely social cohesion”.
If one of government’s main goals can fail so miserably, what does it say about the Office of the Premier? It is evident that this Premier is failing in providing effective leadership. If social cohesion was taken seriously, we would not have witnessed the ugly and disgraceful scenes that took place in our province. If social cohesion was taken seriously, then communities would have ensured that those xenophobic attacks did not take place.
Honourable Chairperson, in the 2011/12 financial year an amount of R5.5million allocated for the commemoration of the 150-years of the arrival of Indian labourers in KZN was rolled over. This amount is not reflected in the budget for the outer years and rightfully so. We are now in 2015 but this project has not seen the light of day. The Premier must come clean and tell this House what has become of this project. Was that yet another empty promise by this government to try and get votes?
Another project that has stalled on the tracks is the much-vaunted “Business Train” between Durban and Pietermaritzburg. This service was supposed to be in service long ago but again we see evidence of failure. Huge amounts of money were allocated towards this project but it has not materialised. The last we heard of this project was in the media where the service was tested. This government was embarrassed because the train took much longer between Pietermaritzburg and Durban than it would have taken a Comrades marathon runner. Apart from the extra-long time frame, it was found that the platforms at the station did not meet the specifications for this service to operate. This is embarrassing for this government and for the province of KwaZulu-Natal. We would like to see this government take on projects that it can complete efficiently.
In the face of such monumental failures how can anyone take this government seriously? How can we build investor confidence and hope to market KZN as an investment hub and a tourist destination?
In the 2014 State of the Province address, the Premier said that government intends to increase the number of jobs through the establishment of SMMEs and Co-ops by at least 300 000. The Premier must tell this House how many SMMEs and how many Co-ops have been established and how many permanent, sustainable jobs have been created. The Premier also stated that at least 1 000 new farmers will enter the agricultural sector and that government will bring 1million hectares of unproductive land back into commercial production. This House needs to know of this ever happened and how successful is this project, or if this was just another pie in the sky project that never took off. The IFP is reminded that over the past 20 years the ruling party has made 164 promises that it has failed to honour. This is a sad indictment on a government that has promised a better life for all.
Honourable Chairperson, the King Shaka International Airport and the Dube Trade Port were showcased as having huge potential for growth. I know that this is something that falls under Economic Development & Tourism, but the Office of the Premier has a major role to play in terms of creating the climate for provincial economic growth. If the Premier fails, as he has been doing, then all other Departments and eventually the province fails.
I thank you
Mr Blessed Gwala, IFP Leader in the KZN Legislature, 078 290 5842