‘Millions of taxpayers’ money wasted to launch ANC election campaign’

Premier of of Gauteng Panyaza Lesufi delivers the State of the Province Address (Sopa) Nasrec Expo Centre. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Premier of of Gauteng Panyaza Lesufi delivers the State of the Province Address (Sopa) Nasrec Expo Centre. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Published Feb 20, 2024


DA MPL Solly Msimanga has accused Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi of using millions of rand of state resources to launch an ANC election campaign.

Msimanga told The Star on the sidelines of the Gauteng province State of the Province Address at Nasrec, Johannesburg, last night.

The colourful event drew people in their thousands from all walks of life including about 4 000 crime-fighting wardens, known as Amapanyaza, who had come to listen to Lesufi make public the status of the province since the last 12 months.

However, Msimanga said inviting such a large number of people was a ploy by Lesufi to launch his party’s election campaign.

“They have spent a whole lot of money and brought in more people than we would normally have during the SOPA… there are literally thousands of people that have been brought here in an election year… that for me is a sign of people that are already jittery and used this platform to launch their election campaign. If he was sure and certain about himself, he would have taken the SOPA to the legislature,” Msimanga said.

Msimanga estimated the amount to be about R12 million spent to cater for all the guests invited.

He said, yearly, SOPA would spend R3 million for the event and suspected four times more was spent.

“If you look at it, we are already cash strapped and now we are going over and above while we were supposed to be containing it and having it smaller to show that we see the pain of the people who are sitting now without electricity, water and no jobs,” Msimanga said.

He also took the opportunity to criticise the wardens.

“We need to look at whether they are fit to do the job. We would not fire them if we take over but we would make sure it's done properly,” he said.

The SOPA did not go without its fair share of controversy. Chaos erupted before Lesufi took to the podium when a member of the EFF called for a point of order for the removal of the scores of crime-fighting wardens from the hall.

In his speech, Lesufi defended his crime prevention wardens saying they should not be discouraged by the insults by the DA and other parties who call them drunkards.

“To me you are heroes who should be celebrated. I know some people call you drunkards with cheap uniforms from the Pep Store. But to me you are heroes who help us fight crime in the province,” he said.

Lesufi presented a glowing picture of the province’s economy, saying the province is the best-performing one when compared to other provinces, adding that the province has the largest number of employed people at over five million people. He said Gauteng of the past 30 years has become better and has changed through constant infrastructure developments.

“In the last 30 years, Carlton Centre was still Carlton Centre and Joburg CBD was still Joburg CBD. We have dropped the ball in many ways but the economy of our province is going in the right direction.

“Despite the job losses during the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, our economy remained resilient, and we rebounded with over 449 000 jobs.

“During this past year, Gauteng as the country’s economic hub, experienced an increase of 96 300 jobs, with 31 300 jobs in the last 90 days. We are proud to declare that since the Covid-19 pandemic, our economy is now firmly back on track and we are ready to pump our economy further,” he said.

He said his government is leading the transformation and re-industrialisation of the province which is a solid foundation led by former premier David Makhura.

He said the Gauteng government will no longer rely on the mining sector.

“What we did was refine the economy and said where the mines were established we will disregard this and focus on the financial sector and we have attracted all the banks and insurance companies and the financial sector is here and we are proud that we host all major telecommunications companies here in our province as well as all major pharmaceutical companies,” he said

He said the East Rand had the potential to create jobs in the mining sector.

“We are developing a new railway line between Tshwane and the Eastern Cape and we would like to thank BMW as well. We are excited that these developments are pointing in one direction that the economy of the province is ready to benefit the people of this province,” he said.

He also declared an R8 billion investment to create jobs in the Vaal.

“There are two areas in this region. It is the water economy and will take advantage of the Vaal River and Dam. We believe that better tourism can help grow tourism in that region and we are in a position to grow this sector,“ he said.

Speaking on crime, Lesufi said over 7 000 cameras had been installed around the province and were working.

Msimanga criticised the SOPA, saying the party had not expected anything new.