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Cape Town - Premier Helen Zille’s reference to “education refugees” came back to haunt her during her State of the Province debate in the Western Cape legislature on Tuesday.
Lynne Brown, leader of the opposition in the legislature, tore into her: “One of your favourite refrains is to blame the influx of poor people to the Western Cape for any form of misery, mishap or maladministration in the province. You become so animated and outraged that it almost sounds credible.”
Brown referred to Zille’s speech on Friday as a “Friday fiction that deployed deliberate distortions to advance her agenda of creating a siege mentality in the province”.
And she added:
“Your story was riddled with examples of the Western Cape government taking credit for the delivery of projects actually delivered by national government.”
Brown said the Western Cape was suffering because the leader of the national opposition party had a day job as a premier.
“The truth is that the Western Cape’s mantle as the most efficient and best-serviced province is slipping on your guard, Madam Premier,” Brown said.
Defending his boss, Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Ivan Meyer said, unlike President Jacob Zuma, Zille showed leadership in running the province.
Meyer said it was public knowledge that the Western Cape was the best-run province in the country, thanks to Zille. He used Zuma’s own report, compiled by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, to show just how good the DA government really was.
Waving the Management Performance and Assessment report of last year, Meyer said:
“The good story of the Western Cape is documented by the president of the Republic of SA, President Zuma. So nobody must deny the good story of the Western Cape.”
ANC MPL Mcebisi Skwatsha said he believed the provincial government was pursuing a deliberate agenda of not providing facilities or services for new arrivals.
“I believe, under your watch, Madam Premier, the Western Cape deliberately seeks to prove to new arrivals in our province that we are not the land of milk and honey. That they should rather go home.”
He said it was deeply insulting for Zille to refer to black people moving to the Western Cape as “refugees”.
“You would have regarded my late father, Mzikabawo Skwatsha, as a refugee. Born in Herschel in the Eastern Cape, he worked in Johannesburg before moving to Cape Town in the early 1950s.”
Skwatsha produced the dompas that had belonged to his mother, Nonkosi Skwatsha, adding that from the dates of her visits to his father in Cape Town, he could tell almost to the day when he was conceived.
Referring to sanitation, Skwatsha said the fact that some informal settlements still had the bucket system showed the DA government did not care about the people.
The ACDP’s Grant Haskin said the reality was that the DA government performed far better than the ANC had done when it had run the province.
But Haskin was not all praise for the ruling party.
“The Western Cape is not a good story for all, as the premier tells us to believe. Ours remains a deeply divided province with the divisions worsening year by year. This is not all the DA’s fault; the premier correctly cites how national government interferes and is blocking the Western Cape government.”