Kimberley - In a warning to party members, ANC provincial chairperson Dr Zamani Saul said that it is a time to be introspective but also a time to be progressive if the ANC in the Northern Cape does not want to be relegated to the opposition benches come the next election.
Saul was speaking at the start of the two-day provincial ANC lekgotla that kicked off in Kimberley on Monday.
“We lost 7% votes in this year’s elections. We dropped from 64% in the last election to 57% in this year’s. If this was a local election, we would have lost key municipalities and district municipalities,” Saul said.
He went on to say that it was a difficult election compounded by commissions of inquiry as well as factional fighting within the ANC.
Saul said that supporters had now put the party on notice. “We are on notice after the outcome of the election. They told us that they gave us their vote but will not do so again if we don’t conduct ourselves properly.”
He said the party had to look at ways to transform economic growth and attract more investment to the Province.
However, this could not be done without the municipalities in the Province pulling their weight, he said.
“This is one of the ways we can enhance the lives of the poorest of the poor in the Province. It is also an important cornerstone to help in the fight against unemployment, especially amongst the youth.”
Saul went on to say that the engine for a modern, growing and successful Province should be the Sol Plaatje Municipality, and particularly Kimberley.
“This is the only city we have in the Province and it serves as the capital. We need to consciously bring development to Kimberley. This town cannot degenerate on our watch. The Sol Plaatje Municipality must urgently get its act together,” he said.
Saul said that the Sol Plaatje Municipality should not be used as a political playing field. “This municipality cannot be treated like a kindergarten. We need to have a capital town that serves as an anchor for development in the Province.”
He also called on the Sol Plaatje Municipality to deal with the Section 106 report.
“The municipality must urgently deal with all issues emanating from the Section 106 report and finalise the issue of appointment of all senior managers where there are vacancies. We also need to strengthen the technical planning and implementation capacity of Sol Plaatje Municipality.”
He went on to say that the Sol Plaatje Municipality needed to drive this and become the engine room.
“This municipality plays an integral part. How can you expect a person who wants to invest in the city driving from the airport and having to dodge every pothole? That investor is probably saying, ‘How are you going to protect my investment if you can’t even take care of your roads?’ ”
He added that the party needs to assist in strengthening the technical capacity of the Sol Plaatje Municipality.
Saul pointed out that the provincial government could, however not call the municipality to task as it owed the local authority R600 million. “They are actually subsidising us.”
Saul said that he had the opportunity to sit down with Provincial Treasury and the financial outlook for the Province was very bad.
“The Province is in a precarious fiscal position. Our total budget as the Province is R18 billion. At the end of the last financial year we closed our bank account with a negative balance of R220 million. Our debt as the provincial government stands at more than R3 billion (R1.7 billion in accruals, R902 million in unauthorised expenditure and more than R600 million in rates and taxes to municipalities).
“This effectively means that we do not have adequate financial resources as the provincial government to effectively implement the manifesto. So, this lekgotla must critically look at measures that will help us to cut wastage and inefficiencies in the system.”
Saul added that the accrual debit was when services were rendered to provincial government. “Small business operators go and make a loan at the bank to ensure they can do it and then they invoice us. We then have to tell them we don’t have the money to pay them. In fact, I’m getting more calls from these small business operators than from people wanting housing in Lerato Park.”
This lekgotla should also focus on ways to reduce unemployment in the Province, Saul said. “Half of all the households in the Province are poor - which means that every second household is a poor household.
“The same applies to our youth. If you look at the figures you will see every second youth is unemployed. We need to turn this around.”
Saul also urged delegates to “travel the moral high ground”.
“You drive your car for 120 000 kilometres and it is no longer ‘safe’ to drive, you need to get a new car. There are ambulances in Strydenburg which have 952 000 kilometres on the clock yet they have to transport the sick. You need to ask yourself . . . which is more important?”
It’s time to go back to basics, Saul told the delegates. “We need to go back to our manifesto and realise why we are here, not for ourselves but the people of our Province.”
He called on delegates to be more imaginative during the next two days. “If we lack imagination, we will not be able to survive the next election.”
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