EASTERN CAPE - Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle's final State of the Province Address (Sopa) was an attempt at obfuscation and whitewashing, according to opposition party leaders.
Delivered at the provincial legislature in Bhisho on Friday, Masualle highlighted the strides that the province had made during his term of office but without enough detail or accountability to even slightly satisfy the DA, United Democratic Movement (UDM), EFF or Pan Africanist Congress (PAC).
Masualle highlighted an improved matric pas rate and praised the work done by late education MEC Mandla Makupula.
He said the health system in the province had improved, resulting in increased life expectancy, and that the rate of medical malpractice claims had decreased since the health department appointed a consortium to probe the claims.
The province's medical malpractice claims currently stand at R23 billion.
Provincial departments that received clean audits increased from eight to 13, said the premier.
But opposition leaders would have none of it. Tearing into his claims, they said Masualle's speech did not reflect the reality "on the ground".
PAC leader Sandla Goqwana said that provincial healthcare had, in fact, deteriorated.
"The premier did not talk about the health crisis in this province. One of the problems which led to the highest number of medical malpractice claims is that medical institutions in this province are understaffed. There is a shortage of nurses, doctors and other health care professionals, including a shortage of medication," said Goqwana.
EFF MPL Yazini Tetyana said Masualle offered "false accountability". "He spoke about interventions in merged municipalities but EFF councillors at Enoch Mgijima Municipality (one of the municipalities created after amalgamation) are reporting a crisis and there is no intervention from provincial government."
Voters had a choice to change the situation on May 8 during the national election, said Tetyana. "Our people have a choice to make. Do they want to keep hearing the same lies from the ANC or are they willing to vote for a new government?"
UDM MPL Thando Mpulu said Masualle's term had been "a complete failure".
"One of the things that the premier does is to coordinate government, but this government has been lacking coordination. Almost half of [Masualle's] cabinet has been changed, what does that tell you? It shows that cabinet has been dysfunctional," said Mpulu.
DA provincial leader Nqaba Banga said Masualle was "reading an ANC eulogy". The governing party would not be returning to the province following the election, he said.
The speech said nothing about the 1.2 million unemployed in the province, said Banga.
"The DA has a plan to create jobs as we have done in the Western Cape - where we govern - and in our municipalities. The ANC has destroyed every municipality and more than 5000 SMMEs that are doing work with the government have not been paid," said Banga.
African News Agency (ANA)