Gauteng SoPA: South Africans Should Not Be Swayed by Panyaza’s False Proclamations of Progress

Good morning,

Later today, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi will deliver his State of the Province Address.

From this speech, we can expect him to make more populist announcements aimed at giving a false impression of progress. A prime illustration of this is the establishment of the unlawful Nasi Ispani Crime Prevention Wardens scheme, which is merely an electioneering gimmick.

If you have been observing the timing of these plans, there should be no doubt in your mind that the way these commitments have been made have taken the shape of a desperate political re-election campaign.

The reality is that our province is plagued by ongoing loadshedding. Our youth, and many other residents of Gauteng, are unemployed. The economy is stagnant, criminals are having a field day, and our economic infrastructure, such as railway lines, has been destroyed. Our provincial public roads are in disrepair, and many of our traffic lights are either vandalised or broken.

Our healthcare facilities are unsafe for both healthcare professionals and patients. Additionally, the Housing Mega Projects, which were supposed to be celebrated, have been left incomplete and abandoned by incompetent contractors appointed by the provincial department.

Since his last SoPA, Premier Lesufi has failed to respond decisively on all these fronts. The people of Gauteng want a government that will respond to these cold-faced realities, which have a real impact on people’s daily lives and have paralysed millions of residents.

On the economic front, an ActionSA government would:

  • Firstly, stop the economic decline in the province by declaring the damage and theft of economic infrastructure and hijacking of buildings as economic treason and introducing appropriate sanctions.
  • In Joburg alone, there are 188 hijacked buildings; 145 of these are within the CBD. I want you to realise the economic potential that the province has with these buildings. In their current state, these buildings are sanctuaries of criminal activities, and are also safety hazards for people that live in them.
  • An ActionSA government would reclaim these buildings and, in working with the private sector, renovate them and bring them back to a functional state. This would enable us to address the housing crisis in the province while also bringing people closer to centres of employment.

To support small businesses, we would:

  • Promote funding for entrepreneurial ventures by introducing government-secured, low-interest loans for SMMEs at private financial institutions.
  • Establish special incentives for investment projects that will improve South Africa’s performance on the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG bonds.
  • We will review regulations applicable to SMMEs that drive up the cost of doing business and impede growth.

We believe that these reforms would make it easier to do business in the province and, therefore, drive up private investments and create jobs.

As a party that believes in social justice, we firmly believe that it is unjust for individuals who risk their lives providing security services to our various departments to continue earning only R3500, especially when the government spends at least R15,000 for each security guard.

An ActionSA provincial government will bring an end to the exploitation network created by the ANC by insourcing frontline services like security guards and cleaners.

Working with our Gauteng municipalities, we can address the energy crisis, which has been a greater part of our slow economic growth.

Gauteng is the economic heartbeat of the country. Millions of people leave neighbouring provinces and countries to come look for economic opportunities here in Gauteng.

This man-made crisis called loadshedding has crippled large and small businesses alike creating a production limitation while severely impacting the quality of people’s lives.

An ActionSA government will resolve this by working with our nine municipalities to shift the province’s electricity dependence from Eskom and open the energy market to independent power producers.

The reality, ladies and gentlemen, is that renewable energy technologies like solar and wind are advancing at an increasingly rapid pace.

Our government would:

  • Allow IPPs to produce electricity and sell it directly to consumers using our already established power distribution infrastructure. Taking this approach would reduce our reliance on the troubled Eskom, which would reduce Eskom’s pressure and allow it to resolve its issues. Our province’s productivity levels would also evade the impact of power cuts.
  • We will phase out fossil fuels responsibly while utilising our existing infrastructure and natural resources to avoid drastic economic losses that South Africa cannot afford.
  • Remove all political appointments, rationalise the top-heavy staff structure, and verify that there are sufficient skills needed to maintain and repair the existing fleet of power stations and the grid.
  • Ensure everyone has access to and benefits from the Just Energy Transition, promoting the interests of most South Africans.

Early in January, I had the opportunity to visit several schools around the province. The reality is that our province’s academic performance can only be improved by consulting with role players in the education sector.

In my engagements, I met with a number of stakeholders including teachers, principals and SGB members who stressed the importance of reintroducing school inspectors.

An ActionSA government will also:

  • Expand the employment of subject advisors to decrease the ratio between advisors and teachers.
  • Introduce a mandatory service year for all education graduates prior to registration with the SACE.
  • Enforce strict compliance with minimum requirements for principals, including completion of school management training programmes.
  • Take active steps to ensure that all school-aged children have access to extra-curricular activities such as sport, drama, and art to encourage the development of balanced individuals.

These reforms, among others, would improve Gauteng’s academic competitiveness.

Recently, we were at the incomplete K31 Beyers Naude construction site, which is a glaring demonstration of the Premier and his government’s inability to see the project through to completion and their approval of hiring incompetent contractors.

In November last year, ActionSA raised concerns over the K31 Beyers Naudé road works which had taken more than necessary time to be completed.

Following our statement, the department and GMK Civils responded with aggression to us including sending us letters from lawyers threatening legal action and demanding that we withdraw our statements.

The ActionSA-led government will:

  • ensure effective planning and scheduling of projects,
  • insist on adequate financial planning and management of resources.
  • introduce a supply chain policy that unapologetically insist on experienced and competent contractors and,
  • maintain good communication and relationships with all parties including regular reporting on progress.

In understanding the importance of roads infrastructure in driving economic growth in the province, ActionSA through a targeted, long-term plan of investing into key infrastructure projects, will invest in the construction of quality roads and build the foundations required for South Africa’s economy to flourish and provide prosperity to our people.

In 2020 at the start of Covid-19, our province lost critical economic infrastructure when our railway network was destroyed under the watch of this current unpatriotic government.

The railway network was not only used to transport millions of people to and from the centre of economic opportunities, but also a means of income for informal traders and entrepreneurs who have now lost their market due to its collapse.

The collapse of the railway network in the province is severely felt across the board.

This is why ActionSA will invest in the restoration of our railways, ensuring safety and efficiency. This undertaking would create millions of jobs and reduce the traveling costs for job seekers.

Further, the province is riddled with old and dilapidated factories which once represented a hive of economic activity. ActionSA will identify and reclaim these factories which we would lease to investors on a contractual basis and incentivise investments by giving this infrastructure to entrepreneurs who have the real capacity to put these buildings to use. This would create employment and rejuvenate our industries.

In dealing with crime, I understand that crime is one of the biggest challenges in the province. Just recently in the second quarter, Gauteng contributed 27.9% to the country’s overall crime stats. But the manner in which the Premier has gone about addressing crime is unfortunately outside the confines of the law.

Unlike Premier Lesufi’s unlawful crime wardens scheme, ActionSA would supplement our police by investing in properly trained men and women who are sufficiently equipped to enforce the law.

We would also draw from our reservists who stand ready to serve their country.

Other reforms that ActionSA will introduce would be to:

  • Rebuild our policing capacity to reverse the overpoliticization of our police services and address the severe constraints on resources. This will assist our law enforcement agencies to proactively respond to crime.
  • Decentralise more functions to provincial police departments to empower context-based crime prevention and response.
  • We will invest in more police stations and introduce more mobile police infrastructure so that more people have access to police services.

The work of fi­xing Gauteng starts with fixing our local governments. Functional municipalities are the foundation of a prosperous state; to get Gauteng and South Africa on the right track again, we must start by fi­xing the basics of service delivery at municipal level.

We will ensure that all municipalities in Gauteng, especially those were ActionSA is in government, improve on the financial management of their budgets, that they improve on the  governance and oversight of service delivery projects and ensure that all conditional grants are spend in time. Revenue losses that are incurred daily through losses in the distribution of electricity and water as well as theft through illegal connections must be stopped.

The reality is that some of the problems causing municipalities not to spend their conditional grants is because of poor planning by municipalities and poor contract management of service providers. This is totally unacceptable and municipalities that fail in this aspect of their work must know that they are robbing the communities of much needed infrastructure and services

ActionSA will also continue to champion the fight against Panyaza’s illegal employment schemes that give false hope to our youth.

I do have to make this clear, we are not against the government creation of jobs for the youth; however, any effort to fight crime and create employment should be done within the prescripts of the law.

It is ridiculous that although 63.9% of the youth in Gauteng are unemployed, the government continues to toy with their hopes and dreams. This dire situation has arisen due to the current government’s inability to provide long term sustainable economic opportunities that would empower the youth.

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to recognise that in this upcoming election, we have a real chance of unseating the uncaring current government and chart a new path of prosperity for our great province.

I want you to recognise that your individual vote carries this country’s prospects of a better future. It is only when you take ACTION through your vote that we will be able to arrest the decline and put the province on an upward trajectory. Let’s take action to fix Gauteng.

I thank you.