SoPA 2023: KZN has Taken a Beating and Premier Dube-Ncube must Begin to Heal the Wounds

When KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Premier delivers her first State of the Province Address (SoPA) on Friday, just 6 months after taking office from former Premier, Sihle Zikalala, she should shy away from tabling ideas that are too extravagant and unachievable and focus on realistic solutions to the problems KZN currently finds itself in after the turmoil it has been through in the last year and before including, but not limited to, the July Unrest and 2022 floods that wrought devastation to the province’s economy.

  • Corruption

One of the most important issues that we expect the premier to address is the issue of corruption that has been prevalent in our province, depriving our people of the services they rightfully deserve.

We are sceptical of the government having a clear plan of action for how to battle corruption. Many investigations get conducted; however, they always find a way of fizzling away with no consequence management. Investigations have yielded no results.

Earlier yesterday, it was reported by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that of the 265 referrals for the 2022/23 financial year, eThekwini accounted for a whopping 75 cases, while Newcastle accounted for 11. We are not hopeful that anything will come from this as has become the norm with the ANC and its approach to corruption.

We are making a call to the Premier to be transparent with the public and ensure recommendations are being implemented without fear or favour. We hope the premier will also update the province about a long-awaited lifestyle audit for Government Officials and Executive Committee Members.

  • Load-Shedding affecting KZN’s economy

There needs to be clear indication from the Premier on the measures the government is going to take to battle the issue of load-shedding, which grossly contributes to the decline in economic development for the province. This affects local and international business investments. We have seen how dire the effects of load-shedding have been for all stakeholders in KZN, with many areas face water scarcity as load-shedding negatively impacts infrastructure.

It is in the best interest of KZN that the Premier look at alternatives such as solar-power or start enrolling a plan for Municipalities to move away from Eskom, and procure electricity from Independent Power Producers.

  • Crime

Unfortunately, criminals have started taking advantage of increased load-shedding. The Premier should give her undivided attention to this issue. It seems that KZN has become a haven for criminal activity. The Premier needs to engage with her national comrade Bheki Cele about possible interventions to fight crime in the province.

Inanda, KwaMashu and uMlazi Police Stations were among those who recorded high numbers of rape and murder. To fully address the issues of crime, we believe that underlying socio-economic issues and driving factors should be addressed while ensuring that the Criminal Justice System prosecutes law offenders.

Residents of KZN have become targets of cross-border crime syndicates, with our province being bordered by 3 international borders. We encourage Premier Dube-Ncube to seek assistance from her counterparts from the National Government in implementing stricter border laws.

  • The Education system

The education system in KZN is in ruins. Our visit to Bhekisisa High School and Emthunzini Primary School last month left a vivid picture of the potential collapse of our education system should there be no intervention.

Teachers and Learners have been forced to work under unfavourable conditions, which continue to deteriorate. While we acknowledge the relevance of Trade Unions, we believe the education system has become too unionised with unions being directly involved in the hiring processes and running of schools.

During her address, it would be appreciated to hear what measures the Premier will be implementing to decrease teenage pregnancy. Underage pregnancy needs to be investigated and those responsible have to be brought to justice.

  • Health care system.

The shortage of healthcare workers in public hospitals is at a critical stage. The ratio of doctor-to-patient is sitting at a staggering 0.8 doctors per 1 000 patients, with nurse vacancies totalling 3 603, and doctor vacancies sitting at 257.

There must be immediate intervention from the government when it comes to this sector. People of South African origin and migrants who have legal documentation to be in our country must be given priority over those who have settled illegally in our country. This will help reduce the stress medical workers work under and will be a strong move in the right direction in rebuilding the healthcare system.

We will be expecting Dube-Ncube to speak on this issue and collaborate with relevant departments such as the Department of Health to work on a strategic plan to employ more hhealthcareworkers.

  • Sewer infrastructure crisis.

It is concerning that during her speech at the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the Premier was economical with the truth, stating on a national platform that all rundown sewer infrastructure in eThekwini have been repaired, meaning sewer leakage poisoning the environment has been halted, making it ‘safe’ for tourists to enjoy Durban beaches again, however, this is not the case. Raw sewer is still finding its ways into river systems, ultimately finding its way into the ocean.

eThekwini is not the only KZN Municipality that is facing a sewer crisis. During our visit to Newcastle last year with our President, Herman Mashaba, we took him around the city to inspect the damage of sewer infrastructure that has been discharging sewage into rivers and residential areas. ActionSA has also been inundated with calls from residents in different parts of the province who face a similar problem.

We therefore call on the Premier to look closely into this issue that is becoming an epidemic.

  • Underspending of budgets.

There is a gross issue of government departments and municipalities underspending budgets meant for better service delivery. The Auditor-General’s recent report in the eThekwini Metro Municipality showed only 6.59% of the budget was used to repair or maintain infrastructure that was, old, damaged due to theft, vandalised, compromised by the April 2022 floods.

  • Truck accidents and road infrastructure.

Unfortunately, South Africa has begun to slowly phase out the use of rail freight transport, and replaced it with road transportation, more specifically trucks, which we have seen cause fatal and infrastructure damages in KZN.

In the month of November 2022, the Province recorded a staggering number of 55 truck related accidents on the road of KZN, with many of them being fatal. This issue is of grave concern as the number of trucks on our roads are on the rise, without proper regulation from authorities.

Ultimately, trucks have also been the leading cause of damages to road infrastructure in KZN and expect to hear from the Premier what plans of action she has to overcome this.

  • Back-pay for traditional leaders.

During Dube-Ncube’s time as MEC for Treasury in KZN, there was the issue of a R1.5 Billion pay-back that was owed to traditional leaders, that was later reduced to R630 Million by then MEC for COGTA, Sipho Hlomuka. Frustratingly, many years later, we are yet to hear of a plan of action that the KZN government is implementing to resolve the issue.

Therefore, we are making a call to the Premier to not turn a blind eye on this matter, as it has been neglected for years.

  • Insourcing of security guards and cleaners.

ActionSA maintains its stance that all cleaning and security service contractors be insourced by government departments. This speaks against the government spending millions on outsourcing private companies for cleaning and security services.

Workers suffer in poor working conditions with low wages and no benefits, which we see as a total disregard of their dignity. Hence, we are making a call to the Premier to address this issue, which will save the Province from spending large amounts of money.

ActionSA is committed to ethical leadership and the rule of law, and we will not tire until the people of KZN receive the services they desperately need.