As we debate the Budget of the Office of the Premier, our Province is still mourning the untimely departure of the citizens of this province as a result of the disastrous floods that befell KwaZulu-Natal. We keep all the families in our prayers for the loss they sustained. To the families who have not found their missing loved ones, we pray that God intervenes in His mighty ways, so that these families find closure.
The Office of the Premier may not have the biggest Budget as compared to other departments, but the Office of the Premier is the centre that must hold. It is the custodian of good governance that should set the tone for the province and revive the hope and trust of our people, as a trust deficit grows daily between the government and the citizens of our country. As a starting point, the vulnerable groups of our province who are exposed to abuse and violence must find shelter, protection and intervention from this Office. As the province tries to recover from the triple disastrous effects of Covid-19, the 2021 July unrest and the recent floods, the Office of the Premier must provide leadership on economic recovery and the drive to create more job opportunities. It is the Office of the Premier that must lead when it comes to consequence management, clean audits, corruption-free departments and as the Office that spends public funds prudently, in an accountable and transparent manner.
As the Premier has tabled the Budget of the Office of the Premier of R767.551 million, the IFP welcomes and support this Budget. Of course, Hon. Premier, there are issues which must be given special attention. The failure to spend to spend the previous year’s R50 million budget for the KZN Youth Fund is not acceptable; with an excuse that there were many applications. Out of the 4 000 youth who applied, this failure to spend has deprived those who could have been beneficiaries. It will be an injury to our unemployed youth, Hon. Premier, if the additional R100 million to be added during the mid-adjustment Budget is only be a budget on paper.
The movement of the Forensic Investigation Services from Treasury to the Office of the Premier has not delivered sufficient tangible results. The IFP notes the 15 concluded investigations, but can we be appraised, Hon. Premier as to out of 15 concluded investigations, how many people have been arrested, how many staff members have been effectively dismissed, how much has been recovered from those who benefitted unfairly and how many service providers have been blacklisted. The only way, Hon. Premier, to restore trust in the government by our people, will be when we act decisively against corrupt elements and send a clear message that those who steal from the public purse in KwaZulu-Natal will meet the full might of the law.
Outstanding matters: the expenditure on the funerals held in the Royal Family and the funeral of Inkosi Imisebeyelanga Shembe. Expenditures on these funerals have not been sufficiently provided to date.
The IFP believes that giving support to His Majesty and the Royal Household is an important function of the government of our province. Renovations in the Royal Palaces must be given priority, as we know that even the late King had to lament the shoddy work performed by government through the provincial and national Departments of Arts and Culture in the alleged upgrading of Enyokeni Royal Residence. This is said to have been fraught with enormous challenges involving allegations of corruption.
Traditional leadership in our province also needs to be accorded the relevant dignity and necessary support in order for it to effectively support the Royalty of our Province.