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Zikalala must deliver a pro-poor KZN Sopa

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala. Picture: Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 25, 2021


Durban - As people around the KwaZulu-Natal province wait to hear what Premier Sihle Zikalala will say in his State of the Province Address (Sopa) on Friday, political analysts and civil society said they did not expect much from the speech.

Desmond D’Sa who was speaking on behalf of the Coalition of the Poor which is a coalition of civil society organisations, said the poor and vulnerable in KZN were rallying together now as they had realised eThekwini municipality, and the provincial government were not helping them. With Friday’s State of the Province Address, he was not expecting much.

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D’Sa said he expected announcements on big infrastructure projects and not anything that would better the lives of the poor and new solutions were needed.

“We need a new vision. That vision has to consult the poor and vulnerable,” he said. What was also needed was for there to be no more white elephant projects that lead to wastage of money, he said. The government needed to have political will and direction that would help the poor, he said.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe also said that he was not expecting much from the premier’s address. He said the premier would most likely stick to points about Covid-19 and the vaccination roll-out programme to make the people of KZN happy that work is under control.

Zikalala would also talk about agriculture as the province has a large agricultural sector, and will touch on unemployment, he said. Seepe said the premier would follow the president and limit himself to a few issues that needed to be addressed as the country had a poor economy which meant there was not enough money to tackle all the country’s problems.

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said they expected Zikalala to take charge and make bold announcements. Some of the issues the IFP wanted to be addressed were water shortages, housing backlog and sanitation, he said.

Hlabisa said: “Deadlines for the release of corruption reports to the public, such as the damaging report into alleged irregularities and corruption in the uMzimkhulu Local Municipality; a forensic investigation has been launched into how the KwaZulu-Natal government spent more than R200 million of its drought-relief budget‚ which was meant as relief for subsistence farmers and struggling smallholder farmers‚ as well as bigger commercial farmers; and the forensic report commissioned by the late former agriculture MEC Meshack Radebe in 2012‚ and which cost the province R10 million‚ was completed in February 2014‚ but has not been released to the public.”

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He said the people of the province needed action and not empty promises and political rhetoric as the ANC-led government had over-promised much but delivered little. “This has been the norm for years, and the people of KwaZulu-Natal can see through this farce. Their plight has been demonstrated through protest action across the province, which is affecting various sectors of our economy. Most of these protests are driven by service-delivery issues, intra-party rivalry and access to lucrative tenders.”

Ahead of Friday’s Sopa, which will be hosted as a hybrid session due to the lockdown, Premier Sihle Zikalala hosted an online pre-Sopa listening session to “engage citizens, especially the youth, and get their input on critical issues”.

Members of the youth population in the interactive session lamented the hard effects of Covid-19, lack of employment business opportunities, access to water, drugs, crime, and several other issues in the province.

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