Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane File picture: Dumisani Dube

Although Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane started off well as “Mama Action”, she now has a mountain of failed promises, says Jack Bloom.

Johannesburg - The DA agrees that Gauteng is a better place to live in since the demise of apartheid. But if we are capable of reaching the stars and we only reach the moon, this is not the best that we are capable of.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane says she has a “good story” to tell. But although she started off well as “Mama Action”, she now has a mountain of failed promises.

According to Stats SA, there are nearly 2 million unemployed people in this province. This is 600 000 more than when she took office.

Two years ago, she promised that six township enterprise hubs would be built, this has been scaled down to two.

Many jobs are dependent on companies that do business with the provincial government, but late payments are still an enormous problem.

Many companies are scared to deal with the Gauteng administration because late payment could sink them.

Mokonyane claims credit for dismantling the Gauteng Shared Services Centre and for rationalising the economic development agencies wracked by corruption, wastage and inefficiency.

This was necessary, but the party that has ruled this province since 1994 should not expect praise for digging itself out of its own mess.

If you dig a deep hole, and then fill it up by half, is this really progress?

In her first State of the Province address in June 2009, Mokonyane said there must be no more “embarrassing stories” in the provincial administration.

Here is a sample of embarrassing health stories in the past five years:

* Male patients had to wear nighties at George Mukhari Hospital because of a linen shortage.

* Surgeons had to finish operations by cellphone light after generators failed at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

* There have been food shortages in hospitals because of non-payment of suppliers.

* Broken radiation machines have delayed treatment for cancer patients.

* Medical negligence claims total more than R1 billion.

* Lifts at hospitals have broken so that sometimes dead bodies, food and patients have occupied the same lift.

The premier made a huge blunder by creating a new Infrastructure Development Department.

This department has been a continuing disaster – not a single large project has been delivered anywhere near budget or on time. The two worst examples are the Jabulani Zola and New Natalspruit hospitals, both years overdue, costs having doubled or tripled. This is a really embarrassing story.

The major reason for failure is an incompetent administration full of cronies and prone to corruption at all levels.

The vacancy rate at senior management level is a whopping 24 percent, and other vacancies are 10 percent. Three years ago, the premier promised to fill all vacant posts within six months. This is another embarrassing story.

According to the past four annual auditor-general reports, there was an astounding R11bn in irregular expenditure over four years. Unauthorised expenditure was R5.5bn and fruitless and wasteful spending was R1.6bn.

Now, is this a good story? R1.2 million was spent on new furniture for the official premier’s residence in Bryanston and R574 000 on repairs to the swimming pool. That’s a lot of money to spend on a swimming pool, or is it perhaps a fire pool?

Another bad story is the imposition of e-tolls.

A better story in Gauteng would be a new provincial government, one that really served the people with efficiency and clean administration.

A better story would be a return to the founding values of our democracy. A better story would be one in which promises made were promises kept.

It would be a story where politicians served the people, not themselves. This would be the best story ever told.

* Jack Bloom is the DA leader in the Gauteng legislature.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

The Star