Good morning to our media, President Herman Mashaba, all distinguished guests.
I am Zwakele Mncwango, KwaZulu-Natal’s Provincial Chairperson.
President, Mashaba, I humbly accept this nomination as Premier Candidate for the province of KwaZulu-Natal with honour and humility.
I began my political career in the year 2002 and have since held various leadership roles throughout my career.
And have shown strong dedication to my career through the many years and possess extensive experience in all spheres of government.
When I began my political career, my sole mandate was to represent the people of South Africa who have suffered the ills of our current government, and fight for the future that we have been promised post-Apartheid.
I joined the green machine a little over a year ago, and quickly realised that I had finally found a place I can comfortably call home, a place that shares the same vision as I do for our beautiful country, and a place that believes we can achieve a non-racial society, believes in economic, ethical leadership and quality education for all South Africans to name a few.
Within just a few months of becoming a leader for our party in the province, through the assistance of our members, we were able to restructure the PEC, and have appointed well equipped and ‘ready to work’ leaders in all ten (10) of our District Municipalities, as well as our Metropolitan Municipality, eThekwini.
We have successfully launched seventy-nine (79) branches across all District Municipalities, and we continue to do so without any intention to slow down.
On the 5th of April 2023, we contested our first-ever by-election in the province, in ward 11 of KwaNongoma Municipality, gaining significant support from the people of the ward, which allowed us to gain votes from the ANC, IFP, EFF and the NFP, which placed ActionSA in the third position after seeing a 10.2% growth.
We are growing very nicely and steadily.
We remain the effective opposition, although we are not the official opposition. Specifically:
We are doing all this while we outside from Legislature.
Ladies and gentlemen. I stand before you today to pledge that through your trust in me, I will work towards ensuring that there is:
We need government that cares, brings hope and meaningful change.
How will I achieve this?
The education system is currently dysfunctional and has been in a downward spiral, with a noticeable gap between rural schools and urban schools. Our schools have become too politicised to a point where one has to be affiliated with certain trade unions before they can be considered to take on roles in our schools.
As ActionSA, we work towards doing away with enforcing politics in our schools. Teachers, Management, Deputy Principals and Principals should be employed in these positions because of their capabilities and qualifications.
The province is currently facing an epidemic of teacher shortages while thousands of graduates are struggling to find employment. Filling available vacancies at schools will not only bring relief to teaching staff and learners but will play a major role in boosting employment opportunities in the province.
Unfortunately, whilst dealing with teacher shortage, learners in township and rural schools are forced to learn under unfavourable conditions due to dilapidated school infrastructure, as we have seen at Bhekisisa High School in Ntuzuma during our ‘School Readiness’ oversight at the beginning of the year, where learners are forced to learn under leaking asbestos, which has not been replaced despite being found to cause serious health risks.
Rural schools are no exception. Corrinth Senior Primary School learners have been attending classes without a roof or ceiling over their heads to protect them from the elements. The rebuilding of school infrastructure to restore the dignity of learners, teaching staff, and that of our public school system.
While the lack professionalism amongst educators in public schools remains one of our major concerns, we cannot allow the absence of culture and values to thrive in our schools. We will restore a functioning system that once thrived in our nation, where educators valued their role within education system, maintaining a strong learning calibre for learners.
Over the years there has been a public outcry over the closure of teaching colleges in KZN, which produced some of the well-equipped educators. We will engage with National Government to restore teacher training facilities, which will bring relief to those who reside in rural areas as they will not be required to travel to major Cities for training.
The collapse of the School Nutrition Programme is one that should be a lesson to all. As ActionSA, we will not allow a repeat of this unfortunate event to reoccur under our leadership, therefore, we will work closely with the Department of Education to develop a more sustainable plan that will not subject school children to go without food not even for a single day.
With the looming closure of over 900 schools in KZN after being deemed as non-viable by the Department of Education is a move that should be condemned.
After 29 years of democracy, many schools in rural areas and townships do not have libraries, nor do they have computer and science labs.
This has ultimately forced parents to make the conscious decision to migrate their children to better performing schools, leaving the ones closer to home with a low intake.
Once we take office, we will work towards maintaining the same standard of learning throughout all schools in the province, where essential learning equipment will be present at all schools, which will curb the need to migrate to ‘better’ functioning schools.
However, what concerns us the most is the lack of safety in many school properties. 13 rape cases were reported in KZN schools between April and June of this year. Some teachers have become predators who are preying on unsuspecting school learners, especially young girls, and this behaviour will be punishable by a heavy jail time.
To safeguard the quality of education, professionalism and safety, we will ensure that regular unannounced inspections are conducted.
Quality Health Care:
The hiring of doctors, nursing staff, and professional on a full-time basis will be prioritised to curb the shortage of healthcare workers in our province, while effectively creating jobs for unemployed persons.
We will direct public funds towards healthcare system to be spent effectively to provide the necessary infrastructure and resources to aid KZN residents, therefore, it is imperative that there be clinics that are allowed to operate on a 24-hour basis where possible.
We will work towards ensuring that those who reside in rural areas and are from underprivileged backgrounds are often not overlooked when it comes to healthcare and have better access to quality healthcare.
While professionalism has been in a sharp decline at many of our public healthcare facilities, we believe this can be corrected through various training programmes for healthcare workers, and though hiring enough staff we will be able to remedy the frustrations faced by a number of healthcare workers who are forced to aid hundreds of people a week due to staff shortage, which will drastically increase the level of care they can provide to patients.
One of the ways in which we can maintain professionalism and top-class healthcare services is through frequent unannounced inspection visits. This will enable us to better map the functioning of healthcare facilities.
We have to maintain that we understand that such changes will not occur overnight, nor will they occur in a space of five (5) years, however, we can assure you that drastic improvement will be made.
Good governance & Fight against corruption:
There’s nothing wrong with our province that cannot be fixed, all we need is ethical leadership with a vision.
When a leader who is nominated to represent ActionSA in Parliament or in the Provincial Legislature takes office, we will make sure that they are vetted. It is our core mandate to deliver honest leaders who lead ethically and with integrity.
Government department performances will be monitored closely to guarantee that they deliver services to all communities. Forensic reports should be made public and will also ensure that recommendations are implemented without fear or favour. Lifestyle audits will be conducted on all politicians, municipal and government officials.
Government entities will only outsource services that cannot be done internally.
We are unapologetic about our position when it comes to insourcing of security personnel, cleaners, road maintenance staff, parks staff, etc. Why does public works need a tender for school maintenance, like plumbing or electrical faults?
Insourcing will automatically eliminate business forums while creating employment and opportunities.
We recognise that municipalities and government departments are highly dependent on these skills, and therefore we will enforce insourcing throughout every government department and municipality, in order to aid our municipalities to save costs, while restoring the dignity of our people.
ActionSA has declared corruption public enemy number one, with a zero-tolerance approach. Politicians and officials who are under investigation for corruption will face consequences,investigations will be quick, while those who have been found guilty will be made to face jail time.
Whistle-blowers play a vital role in bringing act of corruption to light, and for the heroic role they play in protecting public funds and other entities against corruption, we will work toward bringing better protection against retaliation.
We will ensure that stricter rules and regulations are put in place, as well as consequence management for all those who have been found guilty of any form of corruption.
ActionSA has established an exceptional track record of protecting our whistle-blowers who have reported acts of corruption to us.
Economic Prosperity and Justice:
There is a strong need to prioritise infrastructure development throughout our province. A need to connect business communities with consumers.
As your Premier Candidate, I vow to make certain that we will boost township economy by providing business training and support to small business owners. This will be done through opportunity fund, which is aimed at ensuring we have inclusive economic empowerment.
We need real empowerment of all South Africans.
We are not shy to about our position in this matter and will reiterate that no illegal immigrants should be allowed to run a business within our province.
We will ensure that a multidisciplinary task team between law enforcement, border management, Home Affairs and municipalities is formed. That will be the only way we can control and ensure we only allow those here legally.
We will open skills development training centres throughout our province.
The eThekwini Metro is the main economic hub in KZN bringing in over 60% of the province’s GDP, therefore, one cannot make the mistake of allowing the City to collapse. We will work with government departments to renew, repair or install functional infrastructure and restore the safety of our beaches, immediately boosting tourism and the economy.
The number of heavy-duty trucks cross-crossing throughout the province, damaging road infrastructure will have to slowly come to an end. We will revitalise the railway system to make the transporting of goods easier, less time consuming, and safer for road users.
Ladies and gentlemen, one has to acknowledge that economic development is a crucial aspect that will take some time to redress after our people have faced an agonising twenty-nine (29) years of injustice, unemployment, lack of access to housing, clean running water, and more.
We need to strengthen support for Arts and Creative industry, through our Opportunity Fund.
Fight against crime:
To deal with the crime rates in our province, we as ActionSA have realised that there is a need to introduce a drug busting unit to deal with the pandemic tat as our youth in a deathgrip. Something similar to “Sizokuthola”, but by an official police unit.
Crime stats have revealed that:
These killings paint a terrifying picture of the reality of our province, that require serious intervention from the government.
Serious work has to be done to strengthen the work done by the National Intervention Unit (NIU) in dealing with organised crime.
KZN faces a serious shortage of police officers to fight against crime in our province. Statics reflect that the police ratio is sitting at an alarming 1:420 (1 police officer for every 420 citizens) is deplorable.
There is a desperate outcry for more police officers on the ground to fight against the high levels of crime and given the state of our province where we have three (3) police stations (Inanda, Umlazi and Plessislaer) that contribute to high levels of rape, murder, crimes against women and children, and other violent crimes, more boots on the ground are needed. An intake of police officers is essential to restore law and order in our province, while boosting job opportunities for all.
Unfortunately, our police officers remain without proper tools of trade, therefore hindering them from adequately performing their duties. We will ensure that our police officers are fully equipped, allowing for police presence within our communities to grow through frequent patrols.
We will empower and strengthen Community Policing Forums and Civil Societies, which aids in bringing police and communities together, mending the gap between the public and the police and assisting in solving problems and challenges faced by communities.
Water and Electricity:
Access to water and electricity are a fundamental Basic Human Right, that has been infringed on by our current government, allowing people throughout our province to live without proper access to clean running water for years. We will therefore work around the clock to ensure that each household has access to both electricity and clean water as mandated by the constitution.
During our policy conference, ActionSA saw it best that we do away with District Municipalities as the only function they serve to the community is availing water, which most of these municipalities are dismally failing to carry out this single responsibility. Redirecting the responsibilities of District Municipalities to Local Municipalities will ensure that the service delivery to take water to the people of our province is carried out with the rest of the services delivered to all residents, and we will work in collaboration with government departments to monitor how service delivery is carried out.
Ladies and gentleman, over 50% of the population in our province reside in rural areas, however, little to no development has come their way post Apartheid.
We will review the funding model for rural municipalities and ensure that these municipalities get the necessary budgeting according to their outstanding needs that have been neglected over time.
Need for infrastructure development is necessary to bring better living for those who reside in rural areas.
Bringing development to rural areas will bring job opportunities for residents, limiting their need to migrate to urban areas to find jobs.
We will establish a better working relationship with Amakhosi, where we will grant them clear roles and responsibilities in our communities, by amending certain regulations.
Prior to hosting our inaugural policy conference from the 12th to the 14th of September 2023, we engaged with hundreds of ordinary South Africans who aided in guiding us on how to design and structure our policies to fit them.
I can confidently say that the work we do every day is one that we have been sent by our people to do.
Given our track record in the eThekwini Municipality where we have worked our way to becoming the official opposition in the Municipality, in effect, with only four (4) councillors, holding those who have acted unlawfully to account for their actions, it is without a doubt that we will have the strength to return the province of KZN to its former glory.
I thank you.