BY HON. MEC NTUTHUKO SIBIYA
Debate by: Mbongeleni Joshua Mazibuko; IFP MPL
Member: KZN Public Works Portfolio Committee
Thursday; 20 May 2021
KwaZulu-Natal Legislature; Pietermaritzburg
Hon. Chairperson and Hon. Members; I rise, on behalf of the IFP, to make contributions to this Debate on the 2021/22 Public Works Budget. However, at the outset, I wish to register the IFP’s gratitude to the former MEC for Public Works, Hon. Neliswa Nkonyeni for the dedication she displayed towards the accomplishment of the core mandate of this Department. We also wish her well in her new deployment as MEC for Community Safety and Liaison.
In the same breath, we wish to congratulate Hon. Ntuthuko Sibiya for the new role he has assumed, of leading this Department of Public Works. Based on our interaction in the last few weeks since he has been deployed, I am convinced of his determination to ensure that this Department achieves its objectives. We pledge the IFP’s unwavering support to the MEC and his Department, as long as they continue in the path that they have trodden up to now.
BUILDINGS AND LAND REGISTERS
Hon. Chairperson, one of the core functions of Public Works is the question of “the acquisition of public buildings and land;” We wish to urge the Department to ensure that there is security for public buildings that may not yet be occupied. This will ensure that public buildings are not hijacked by those who want to acquire properties free-of-charge and that they are not vandalized.
Likewise, we urge that the Department must keep up-to-date records of all pieces of land owned by government in this Province and ensure that they are invaded and hijacked by those whose mission is to use illegal means to get access to land.
EPWP MONITORING MECHANISM
Yet another core function of the Department is the co-ordination of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).
We therefore wish to urge the Department to consider having a mechanism to monitor the progress of all individuals who have gone through EPWP skills training programs, if they do not have it already. The purpose of such monitoring must be to ascertain whether the skills transfer and training that they undertake enable them to apply these skills after their training. In addition, their training must enable them to change their lives for the better, including being able to use their skills to create small businesses for themselves. It is the IFP’s view that trainees who show potential must be assisted to link up with national, provincial and private-sector entities that can support them, so that they are further capacitated with a view to begin new lives as small business-people.
In fact, we applaud the Hon. MEC’s expressed commitment to such a program. We also applaud the report of the 14 EPWP beneficiaries in the Southern Region who were assisted to register their Co-operative. These are the stories we wish to hear of in the future.
TRANSFORMATION OF PROPERTY SECTOR
While we are on the matter of economic growth and job creation, we fully support the Hon. MEC in his commitment to the transformation of the property sector.
The Hon. MEC has gone on to give us the figures which show the unfairness in the representation of the demographics in our Province.
We are therefore pleased that this matter is among the priorities of the Hon. MEC and his Department. These are issues that hinder economic growth and empowerment of those whom apartheid oppressed and marginalized. So, it is imperative to address them with speed, as the Hon. MEC correctly says. If we fail to do so, we will stand indicted of having sold out our people.
IMPLEMENTER OF CHOICE
We are also pleased to note that, among his priorities, the Hon. MEC has included the issue of making this Department the Implementer of Choice.
Indeed, we wish to see tis Department reaching a five-star standard in terms of delivering services so that every Department will not hesitate about entrusting Public Works with their projects.
DELAYED PAYMENTS TO SERVICE PROVIDERS
We applaud the MEC’s commitment to deal with the matter of late payments to service providers. Indeed, this is one of the issues that must be attended to with speed and be laid to rest once-and-for all. Because, any delay in paying a small-business person is in fact tantamount to destroying the business of that person and thus taking them back to poverty. In addition, this threatens lives of families who rely on this one business person.
PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE REPORT
Among other things, the Report of our Committee addresses the concern that was expressed by the stakeholders in the Zululand District about what they articulated as slow progress in the “appointment of “people with disabilities in the middle management positions.” While we are aware that the Department has taken some steps towards attending to the issues of the disabled persons, we must urge for some acceleration so that they do not feel that they are not regarded as priority.
Our Report also expresses our disquiet about the issue of budget cuts. Although we know that economic imperatives dictate that there must be budget cuts which affect the whole country, we must for the record, express our unhappiness with this situation. We note that the cuts also impact negatively Program 3 which, inter alia, deals with infrastructure. Surely, any negative impact to the infrastructure, will have serious repercussions on the government’s efforts to re-ignite the economy. Because, as we know, infrastructure plays a critical role to the revitalization of the economy.
We have however taken note that the Hon. MEC, in his Budget speech, has made mention of the massive infrastructure investment that was announced by His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
FOCUS ON ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Hon. Chairperson, we have note and we applaud the fact that, the MEC’s address does pay sufficient attention to issues of skills acquisition by our people and economic empowerment. We applaud the MEC and Department because we also believe that, paying attention to skilling and training our people and assisting them towards their economic empowerment are the springboards towards rescuing our people from the jaws of unemployment, hunger and poverty as well as economic emancipation.
In conclusion, I wish to state that the IFP supports the Budget tabled by the Hon. MEC for Public Works in this House.
Lastly, we are positive that that the Hon. MEC will ensure that each cent will be spent to achieve the objectives of the Department.