Western Cape premier Helen Zille has revved up her racist service delivery programmes in favour of the rich, writes Marius Fransman.
Cape Town - In response to the Premier Helen Zille’s State of the Province address this year, I said that five years of DA rule under the guise of an “open, equal opportunity society” was, in reality, to preserve white minority interests. I reflected that this was evident in the composition of the cabinet, representation in management echelons, slow pace of the transformation agenda and skewed service delivery patterns.
A brief reflection of Zille’s performance for the past six months, however, indicates that it was wishful thinking on our part to hope that the DA could change. Regrettably, the record indicates she has rather revved up her racist service delivery programmes in favour of the rich.
The Western Cape today still remains a tale of two provinces: one for the rich and mainly white, the other for the poor and mainly black – coloured and African – communities. In 2011, when the national census was done, 32 percent of our children lived below the poverty line. Yet the DA refuses to intervene to address this challenge. Why? Because they are mainly poor African and coloured.
From 2009 to 2012, only 191 000 jobs were created, of which approximately half went to whites. The past six months indicate that the DA has continued on this path. While the economy has the potential to create and ensure shared and inclusive growth, particularly in the services, agricultural, and tourism sectors, the growth is trickle-down because of the exclusivist economic policy of the DA. Where jobs are created, it continues to mainly benefit the white population. Zille must tell us:
l How she will facilitate the participation of the majority of our people in the economic mainstream of this province.
l How many of the work opportunities promised to 750 post-matrics have actually been created.
l What happened to the R7.54 million which was meant to help entrepreneurs and other businesses across the province?
l If the promised 94 424 job opportunities were created.
The DA has also failed to bring together farm owners to address the plight of poor farmworkers. Instead, since the increase in the minimum wage, many owners found ways to circumvent these policy interventions through increasing evictions and exorbitant increases in the price of goods on farm shops owned by them. While life remained unbearable for farmworkers, the DA government failed to hold farm owners accountable.
In the past six months, the DA government has continued with its five-year stretch of apartheid spatial planning with its failure to meet its financial and performance targets – and over 80 000 people are still using the bucket system in the City of Cape Town alone.
Annually, 48 informal settlements are severely affected by floods in winter and fires in summer, yet to date there is still no attempt to find a sustainable remedy.
The premier still fails to address the cause and effects of the social pathologies of poverty such as the lower levels of health, higher mortality rates and the increased levels of crime.
Health and education, which are central to service delivery, have been hit hard by the present adjustment budget. In health, R82m will be rolled over, affecting mainly most-needed district health services. In education, where this province has the highest rate in the country of worst-performing schools in the rural areas, Zille remains steadfast in wanting to close down schools. Furthermore, this government committed itself to build 52 Grade R classrooms across the province, complete 23 new schools and construct 11 replacement schools (Budget Speech, 2014). The progress has been dismal thus far.
Zille, furthermore, continues to deny the historical legacy of substance abuse in our communities, dismissing it as a policing matter. Yet, in her Department of Social Development, we have noticed a huge gap in employment of social workers. Zille also continues to deny our communities the resources for community safety structures. Instead she continues to invest most of the resources in crime prevention projects for the historically advantaged communities such as Pinelands and the Atlantic Seaboard, among others.
Over the past six months the premier continued to perpetuate racist and unconstitutional employment practices. In terms of employment equity performance, this province also remains the worst in the country, with whites still making up approximately 76 percent of senior management. Yet the DA government continues to appoint and promote mainly whites into most senior and middle management while overlooking more experienced coloured and African employees.
Also, in numerous cases these appointees lacked the experience and were, in fact, DA cadre deployments – such as Robert McDonald, Nick Clelland-Stokes and Ryan Coetzee.
Most of the bonuses granted have been allocated to management, which remains mainly white. In the provincial legislature alone, its human resources (totalling about 100 staff members) spent R529 000 on performance bonuses, and in the premier’s department there were 32 promotions of middle to (mainly-white) senior management employees, and none in the lower levels.
The pattern that has emerged over the past six months with regard to Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) is that the DA and Zille remain completely opposed to these policies. An example of this is its illegal and over-zealous action to allocate a measly 8 percent of its infrastructure spend on roads to BBBEE.
While the premier continues to argue that the DA is the torchbearer of good governance, its continued policies and practices are diametrically opposed to this outcome. Rather, the adjustment budget trends broadly reflects that it is too politically inclined and skewed towards the elite and affluent sectors – perpetuating the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
Untransparent, fruitless, wasteful, ineffective and inefficient expenditure continues to be the hallmark of this administration. It continues to shift money from various programmes and projects for frivolous, vexatious and unjustifiable reasons. In all departments, the collective under-expenditure is R412m, and public entities underspent by R44.7m, with only a generic explanation provided: “slow filling of posts”.
In the words of the auditor-general, “a clean and or unqualified audit is an account of a paper trail in balancing the books; it is not a justification of why the money was spent or not spent”. Nor does it reflect why and where we spend our money.
Over the past six months the DA has continued with its practice of extending consultants’ contracts without any transparent or competitive bidding processes. Hot on the heels of some of the extremely dubious procurement contracts such as the Hunt-Lascaris communication debacle and Filcon, among others; it has, for the third time without transparent processes, extended the contract of its forensic investigation consultants.
In addition, the premier’s own department’s budget was just increased by R321m to approximately R1.4 billion, while all indications are that it will not be able to spend even its original lower budget by the end of the financial year. This begs the question whether or not the money is once again kept to be fiscally dumped to her forensic and communication consultants to further her party-political purposes?
Given our history of division in this province, the DA government – rather than investing in arts and cultural projects in our communities to celebrate our 20 years of democracy and diversity and build social cohesion – instead prefers to waste hundreds of thousands in celebratory activities in the German region of Bavaria.
Similarly, since the premier’s racist refugee remarks, we have experienced an increase in racial incidents in this province over the past five years by numerous white citizens emboldened by the premier’s own inherent racism.
Yet, Zille, rather than repenting for her racism by developing programmes to heal the divisions of the past, has been ominously silent in these matters, preferring to spend taxpayers’ money on Eurocentric cultural activities such as the markets in St George’s Mall and Oranjezicht.
* Marius Fransman is the leader of the ANC in the Western Cape.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.