Time to fill the service void in KZN

By Francois Rodgers Time of article published Mar 4, 2018

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THIS WEEK, I thought I was at the wrong legislature event. I was supposed to be at the KZN State of the Province address.

As it turned out, I was at a “State of Zuma” address, with KZN Premier Willies Mchunu singing the praises of a man who has all but destroyed our country and our province. The recent week’s Budget speech bore testimony to this fact.

When the premier did speak about KZN, his speech was flawed with statistical inaccuracies on both poverty and unemployment. Without the correct facts, it is impossible to address these two critical challenges our province faces.

Nor did the premier take responsibility for the fact that more than 24% of KZN’s people - the official figure - do not have jobs, or for the hundreds of people who have died or are extremely ill as a result of inadequate access to proper medical care, particularly in the field of oncology.

He also failed in terms of accountability for the fact that our education system continues to leave thousands of children with no hope. Nor did he take accountability for the rampant fraud and corruption so embedded within ANC structures in this provincial government.

The writer, Francois Rodgers, DA caucus leader in the KZN legislature.

And this is only half the story. Our people need total change.

The people are tired of an ANC that continues to over-promise and under-deliver. This view is supported by the fact that KZN had 3562 protests between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017 (almost 10 a day), most of which were related to poor service delivery.

It is not hard to understand why they are dissatisfied when:

* More than half of KZN’s people receive grants.

* More than half live below the lower-bound poverty line, a regression from 48% in 2011.

* 34.3% live below the food poverty line, an increase of almost 4% since 2011 - clearly not an improvement as alluded to by the premier.

Uppermost in the minds of many is the fact that they cannot find jobs because the ANC in our province is paralysed with no political will.

The situation is bleak, unless you are one of the 195 046 public sector employees in the province. According to the Stats SA labour force survey for the fourth quarter, unemployment in KZN increased under the ANC government. This flies in the face of what the premier said.

The DA has a plan which ultimately benefits our province and all its people rather than just a chosen few. It will see our province prosper and become an economic machine, driven to create sustainable jobs and deliver affordable, sustainable services.

And it will bring the ANC to below 50% in this province in the next election.

The DA’s plan starts with the building of a capable state. This means:

* No more ANC cadre deployment and sacrificing quality for loyalty.

* Meaningful redress for our country’s unjust past. This does not include the ANC’s version of Black Economic Empowerment aimed at the enrichment of a small elite of connected cronies.

* Zero tolerance for corruption.

The DA plans to create proper jobs by restarting our province’s economy. We believe KZN’s municipalities have a crucial role to play here by being proactive and not getting caught up in red tape and bureaucracy. The current state of local government is a disgrace.

The DA will implement the successful Western Cape model, Wesgro, incorporating economic development, investment and tourism under one umbrella - making it a lean, mean development machine.

This structure will change the trajectory of economic development and job creation in KZN.

Closely linked to the development of any economy is its transport network. A DA-led government will ensure both local and provincial government invest heavily in transport infrastructure by ensuring that national, provincial and municipal authorities maintain and refurbish crumbling road and rail infrastructure.

We would also ensure, via a study of road and rail access, adequate funding to maximise volume through our ports

A DA-led government in KZN would overhaul the current education system. We would:

* Fight for a revision of the equitable share formula in our province.

* Be transparent about our successes and failures, including the truth about the matric pass rate.

A DA-led government would address the burning issue of pupil transport in a province which has the greatest need for such transport in the country.

That the province’s Education Department failed to spend a massive 60% of this budget during the 2016/17 fourth quarter is simply offensive.

We would take urgent steps to ensure our children do not go hungry, which was the case in July last year when the National Schools Nutrition Programme in KZN collapsed after the tender process was found to be irregular and corrupt.

We would address the issue of unqualified and under-qualified teachers by:

* Conducting an audit across the department to ensure committed, professional and skilled staff.

* Identifying and filling vacant posts immediately with qualified teachers.

* Re-establishing teacher training colleges.

* Minimising external forces on education by returning control to parents and educators.

KZN is experiencing an oncology crisis with the areas of urology, nephrology and psychiatry also severely affected. Yet it remains immobile in acting against MEC Oscar Dhlomo. This is the strongest indication yet that the ANC does not care. The DA is drawing up a document showing how we would run health, with the first step being the creation of a caring health service.

Our province has a multicultural character which is reflected in its challenging political landscape. The people have shown that they are resilient, having survived both IFP and ANC rule.

Today the DA wants to warn the people of KZN against the myth peddled by some that there is somehow a “clean” ANC sharing the same benches as the “dirty” ANC. This is not the case. All in the ANC are all complicit in the national shame - they put Zuma in power and kept him there.

- Rodgers is DA leader in the KZN legislature and serves on the finance and premier’s office portfolio committees.

- The views expressed are not those of Independent Media


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