By Andrew Robertson
Pietermaritzburg – KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu has urged all civil servants to “pay back the money.”
Speaking that the State of the Province address on Thursday at the KZN Legislature in Pietermaritzburg, Mchunu said government employees owe the National Student Financial Aid Scheme R400 million.
“We have through our engagement with NSFAS, been advised that we have 15 636 government employees in KZN who studied through NSFAS and still owing.”
Mchunu during his speech urged all those civil servants to “pay back the money.”
According to Mchunu, government has committed to a cash injection amounting to R 316 million to the NSFAS which have benefited 5 467 students in 2016.
“Our Youth Chief Directorate has ensured that government is responding to the challenges facing needy students through proper co-ordination of bursary programmes.”
“As much as we remain steadfast in our resolve to provide quality education with quality outcomes, we are also committed to ensure that we improve our pass rate with out comprising quality standards,” He said.
Mchunu, at his much-anticipated address - which comes a day after finance minister Pravin Gordahan’s budget speech - reiterated Gordhan’s remarks.
Reflecting the minister’s utterance and speaking about the current economic and fiscal situation Mchunu said: “We are extremely concerned with the sluggish international, national and provincial slow growth trend.”
“The emerging consensus is that unless we reduce public spending, we will have trouble in many fronts and at different levels,” he said.
“KwaZulu-Natal is due for cuts totaling over R1 billion in the first year of Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)” which he says resulted in many “strenuous negotiations” with directives, so that “cost cuts will not impact negatively on service delivery”.
“There also seems to be high level of satisfaction about the fact that access to piped water had improved from 76% to 7% and over the same period access to sanitation from 51% to 76% and access to electricity from cooking increased from 69% to 82%,” he said
On employment he said more funding would be needed for job creation and that initiatives were on the cards so that jobs would be created.
He cited an increase of “employments by 6% from the 2 419 000, we reported on in 2005, to 2 558 000 in the quarter 3 of 2015 as reported by the quarterly labour force survey.”
With the province being declared a national crisis relating to the drought which racked havoc in the province the premier said: “We are obviously focusing on increasing water storage capacity through engaging the Department of Water and Sanitation on the dam building programmes in the province.”
“With the current impact of the drought in the province, there is increased pressure and focus on making progress with the particular Hazelmere dam and Smithfiled dam…We are spending a total of R872 million on water projects in the current financial year.”
On road developments Muchunu said: “We have seen an investment of R7.1 billion from SANRAL in improving, marinating and expanding the national road network in KZN.”
Mchunu said the levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality and HIV/Aids still remains high in KZN and that the province is still “the poorest province in South Africa”.
The SOPA debate starts on Friday.