Hon MB Gwala, IFP Leader In The KkwaZulu-Natal Legislature
At the outset I would like to thank the Hon Willies Mchunu, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal for his first State of the Province Address that he delivered yesterday and I hope it will not be his last.
I must also acknowledge the insightful comments and advice offered by His Majesty the King when Isilo addressed this House on Tuesday. His Majesty touched on some very crucial issues which I will expand on later.
As I sat listening to the Address by the Hon Premier, I was left with the feeling that this is too good to be true. I was wondering which province the Hon Premier was talking about because there are critical issues that are facing us as a province that was either overlooked or glossed over. As the IFP we believe that this Address was a whitewash that attempts and fails miserably to cover up the shortcomings of this ANC government.
When I look at the audience here today, I notice that the guests who were here to listen to the Hon Premier included leaders from the business sector, captains of industry, labour representatives, academics, traditional and religious leaders, but most, if not all of them are not here to listen to the opposition. Unfortunately they have gone away with a very unrealistic picture of what the real state of the province is.
The State of the Province Address once again demonstrated the extent of the ANC’s disconnect with the people and the real state of the Province. It was very clear that the Premier adopted the same metaphorical speech strategy used by Jacob Zuma of telling a good story. The speech’s plausibility is brought into question by the fact that the Premier spoke only about one side of the coin.
Allow me to mention some of the critical issues that touches the lives of our people which the Hon Premier failed to mention or to provide leadership on.
The Hon Premier comes to this House with a State of the Province Address that does not address one of the most serious issues that is facing our citizens and that is the ongoing killings that are taking place at random across our province. Without peace and stability there can be little or no progress in KwaZulu-Natal.
Killings have become commonplace in our province and every time another killing takes place we hear of commissions of enquiry or task teams being set up. But as Members of this House and as citizens of the province we do not get feedback on progress in the investigations. Since killing of people in places like Richmond, Umlazi, Kloof and the Midlands are continuing, as the IFP we believe that those so-called task teams and commissions of enquiry exist only on paper.
Killings of Amakhosi that have gone unsolved to date include those of Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi, Inkosi Vezi Gwala, Inkosi Lushaba, Inkosi Linda Mathonsi and Inkosi Mdluli.
The Hon Premier was the MEC of the Department of Community Safety and Liaison when many killings were taking place and they are continuing under his watch as Premier.
His Majesty raised his concerns around the killing of farmers in our province.
In April 2016 there were farm killings in Vryheid, in June there were killings in Dundee and Isnembe and in July there were murders in Greytown to name a few.
Between January and May last year five farmers were killed and fifteen farms were attacked and a Task Team was assigned to investigate
In February this year Mr Gavin Carter, a farmer in Underberg was killed, soon after that another farmer, Mr Trevor Rees was brutally attacked and killed, then there was another attack on a farm in the Himeville area. Also in February this year much closer to us here in the Midlands an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Solik were abducted and killed.
It must be remembered that it is these commercial and small scale farmers who provide food, not only for our province but for the rest of our country and even for export thereby boosting our economy.
How can people spend their leisure time having fun when gunmen can walk into a tavern shoot eight people, rob them of their belongings and then proceed to a house where a family was asleep, kill four family members and rape a young woman as happened last weekend in Umlazi?
While on the issue of Umlazi, we continue to hear of killings at the Glebelands Hostel even after much money was poured into security upgrades and high level delegations including the former Public Protector visiting the hostel.
It has been reported that in Inchanga alone there were fourteen (14) deaths last year. The violence in this area was sparked by the tensions between the ANC and its alliance partner, the SACP in the run-up to the local government election.
We expected that the Hon Premier will say something about these attacks and progress in the investigations.
It is encouraging that a Commission of Enquiry chaired by advocate Marumo Moerane has been set up with a funding of R15million to investigate the murder of political activists between 2011 and 2016. We hope that this commission will be transparent and provide progress reports on its work.
The Hon Premier cannot talk of peace in KwaZulu-Natal when these things are happening under his watch. The peace and reconciliation that His Majesty spoke about will benefit our province and the rest of South Africa and is largely dependent upon co-operation between political parties. Our worry is that when the ANC battery is fully charged they do not care a damn about co-operation, but when the battery is flat, they want to kiss up to everyone. This is not the way to good governance and peaceful relations.
There are many serious issues concerning the Treasury Department which, as the IFP we have been raising with the MEC for Finance, Premier Willies Mchunu as well as his predecessor, Senzo Mchunu.
Millions of rand of tax payer’s money is being stolen by a “white cabal” within Treasury under the guise of the employment of consultants linked to employees within Treasury. We are pleased that the Hon Premier has done the right thing and has instructed the MEC for Finance to re-instate Ms Hlatshwayo-Rouget who blew the whistle on the shenanigans within Treasury. Poor Fikile has become a victim of the white cabal.
Corruption is running rampant in most departments but the Hon Premier did not convince us that he has a strategy on how to deal with this cancer that is eating away at honest governance in our province.
When I hear the ANC saying that it will eradicate corruption in government, it is like hearing Satan preaching from the Bible, as we know it will never happen. Just as the Good Book and Satan do not go together, anti-corruption and the ANC do not go together. This is a sad reality.
Madame Speaker, after the local government elections last year we saw the ANC red-faced and shocked by its poor performance. The ANC was shocked because it was expecting to do much better since it had used state resources at the disposal of its MECs to campaign. After its dismal performance, the ANC then used its political muscle which saw the MEC for COGTA abusing her authority in Nqutu and Umzinyathi which do not have fully constituted municipal councils as we speak. The list of untabled forensic reports across the province is testimony to administrative instability, maladministration and corruption. The number of municipalities placed under administration and those that should have been but haven’t, also speaks of chaotic instability. Political meddling and interference by incompetent politicians at local government level compounds inept service delivery at local government level. There are serious problems in Emadlangeni and in the uMkhanyakude District which are under Administration. In Edumbe there is an investigation taking place in connection with missing funds and in the Harry Gwala District where President Zuma had called on the SIU to investigate serious corruption.
While on the issue of the local government elections, I hope that those IFP detractors who have been prematurely writing us off over the years, have taken notice of the electoral success that the IFP has achieved in many municipalities. I want to remind them that the IFP is still here and growing stronger by the day.
The ANC talks a lot about reducing poverty while it fails miserably in creating sustainable jobs. As a province we are seeing many businesses closing shop and retrenching staff as is the case with Rainbow Chickens and other huge former employers. Such enterprises are being forced to shut down largely due to absurd government policies that undermine local employers while enriching foreign nations.
Instead of creating sustainable jobs, this government is successfully ensuring that our people lose jobs and fall into the poverty trap.
The economic slowdown has touched the lives of every citizen in KwaZulu-Natal with thousands of jobs being lost and the rising cost of living threatening the poorest of the poor. The Hon Premier admits that the economic slowdown will affect the poor, but he did not tell us what his government is going to do about job losses and the resultant challenges that our people will face.
We understand that the global economic downturn has affected our country also, but such adversity calls for decisive and creative leadership that puts the interests of its citizens first. What we are seeing is the ANC playing politics of the stomach whereby only an elite few with close connections with the ruling party becoming richer while the masses remain in poverty. This must not be allowed to continue and we are convinced that it will soon come to an end in 2019 with a change of political leadership in this province and in the country as a whole.
We appreciate the need to celebrate special events but we question the budget allocations from the Premier’s Office as well as from municipalities for the celebration of O R Tambo’s contribution to the country. We question how hosting the World Economic Forum will benefit our people living in shack settlements in view of the Hon Premier’s admission that there will be an increase in unemployment and poverty.
It is unfortunate that the Hon Premier did not see fit to address the crisis that we face in education. He mentioned the matric pass rate but said nothing about improving conditions at many of our schools that do not have running water, electricity, libraries, laboratories and learning material. These are the tools that are required if we are to improve quality in education. Nothing was said about the shortage of teachers in critical subjects such as mathematics and science and how this government intends addressing the issue. Education takes the lion’s share of the provincial budget, but education standards leave much to be desired due to incompetence and a lack of leadership.
Many school children have lost their lives while travelling to school on the back of bakkies and unroadworthy vehicles but the Hon Premier failed to mention anything about plans for safe scholar transport. How many more children must die before something is done?
Citizens of the province are crying out for decent housing as they are forced to live in despicable conditions in shack settlements, yet the Hon Premier said nothing meaningful about the provision of housing. How do we expect children to grow up with dignity when they are living in squalor?
Infrastructure in most government institutions have fallen into disrepair but the Hon Premier said nothing about how Public Works will respond. Critical institutions such as hospitals and schools are in urgent need of maintenance and renovation but nothing was said about this. There is a dire shortage of functional specialised medical equipment at many hospitals but no mention was made of this.
Talking of political leadership in our province, I must stress that we as the IFP recognise the Hon Willies Mchunu as the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal. It would be very unhealthy for our province if there is a Premier and a de facto premier operating side-by-side. Having two centres of power working in opposition to each other will not benefit this government nor will it meet the aspirations of the people of the province. It would also be detrimental should there be an unceremonious change of Premier this year. Appointing a premier and re-shuffling cabinet is something that has far reaching implications and it was important to consider competence, experience and qualifications of the incumbents and not the political cabal with which they are associated.
HON M B GWALA