At the Alternative State of the Province Address presented at the Athenaeum in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday 13 February the Democratic Alliance presented their report card for the present incumbents of the grant trough.
The average for the office throughout the entire province, as given by the DA, is 32.30%. Even by our extremely low standards for learners in the education system this is a FAILURE. Where to now for the beloved country?
The Department’s previous score is included in brackets, for reference:
The Office of The Premier (OTP) – Score: 3/10 (4)
There has been no improvement in the Department since the last financial year, with the OTP underspending its allocated budget by R76,698 million for the 2017/18 financial year.
The inability to successfully complete the broadband project, aimed at connecting libraries, schools, clinics, hospitals, traffic centres and education district offices, is a clear sign of a Department incapable of meeting targets. OTP was able to connect only three out of the targeted 387 identified sites.
There are also clear signs that there is no consequence management being enforced in OTP. As the leading Department in the province, the lack of monitoring and evaluation year-on-year is unacceptable.
Another dismal statistic is that zero cases of service delivery issues reported to the provincial hotline have been resolved.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs – Score: 3/10 (3)
This Department reflects a serious lack of leadership, the MEC is almost always a no-show at meetings of the Portfolio Committee and the Department,
The collapse of local municipalities all over the province speaks volumes of the shortcoming and lack of leadership in this Department.
There are 25 municipalities in the province who do not have CFOs who meet the minimum competency requirements.
Economic Development and Environmental Affairs and Tourism – Score 3/10 (3)
It is too early to tell whether this new MEC is able to walk the talk. Immediate signs are that he talks tough but time will tell whether tough talk will be followed by tough action.
The only indicator the MEC should be focused on is the unemployment rate of 45.8% making the Eastern Cape the worst performing province. The Economic Development programme in the department underspent on its budget and only reached 50% of its performance targets, underachieving on enterprise development, investment and job creation. The MEC needs to set detailed jobs targets for the relevant programmes and entities and if unemployment goes up officials must step down. There can be no progress without consequences and the consequences must extended to public entities.
As long as unemployment remains high this MEC’s report card will remain low.
Education – Score 3/10 (3)
The backlog of infrastructure delivery is a huge stumbling block for Education. The Eastern Cape still has learners who are without proper sanitation facilities and who are forced to use pit latrines and attend school in mud structures.
R1.6 billion was recorded as irregular expenditure, with more than a billion of this falling under the umbrella of infrastructure.
The Department underspent its allocated budget for the 2017/2018 financial year by a massive R213,4 million, with almost R93 million not spent on Early Childhood Development centres.
In many schools in the province, teachers are forced to teach subjects that they are not qualified to teach due to teacher vacancies.
However, the Department did see improvement in curricular performance at school and with administration.
Health – Score 2/10 (2)
The Department of Health continues to teeter on the brink of total collapse, with contingent liabilities in excess of R24 billion, while its annual budget is R23,6 billion.
Medico-legal claims are largely responsible for this dire financial state, but while staff shortages have led to many of these claims, the Department seems incapable of implementing, or even finalising, the necessary staff organogram that would see hospitals and clinics sufficiently staffed.
The lack of leadership and the accountability deficit displayed by top and middle management have contributed to this desperate and dangerous state of affairs. The entire Department should be placed under administration as a matter of urgency.
Human Settlements -Score 3/10 (3)
Human Settlements is unstable and unable to deliver on its mandate. It has had three MECs in one term, with an acting Head of Department and numerous critical vacancies.
For the past three years the Department of Human Settlements has been unable to fulfil its mandate of delivering houses, eradicating informal settlements, addressing illegal occupation of RDP houses, issuing title deeds and upgrading houses of poor quality.
The Eastern Cape has a huge housing backlog of more than 660,000 houses, yet the budget was reduced by more than 14.5% in the last financial year, amounting to a R256-million loss for the Department and further hampering its ability to deliver.
The newly appointed MEC has no experience in Human Settlements and will be hard pressed to turn this Department around.
Provincial Treasury – Score 4/10 (3)
This year the Provincial Treasury obtained a clean audit, which is welcomed.
However, irregular expenditure for the Province remains high, at over R860 million for the previous 2017/18 financial year. This brought the closing balance of irregular expenditure for the province that still needs to be dealt with by accounting officers to R5.26 billion.
This figure could grow by a further R1,73 billion, which is currently under investigation.
Although there has been an improvement with regards to payments of suppliers within 30 days, this is still a major problem and has a crippling effect on businesses, especially SMMEs.
There is still far too high an amount, R1,4 billion, spent on non-core expenditure.
Public Works – Score: 4/10 (3)
There is a new MEC in the Public Works Department, who has indicated that she is ready to roll up her sleeves and fix the Department.
The fact that the Transport Programme (roads) function has been moved to the Department will assist this Department in achieving their goal of a clean audit.
Having said that, The Department has had a rocky period in terms of which they were unable to pay contractors as the implementing agents for the Department of Health and the Department of Education.
Also of concern was the Auditor General’s finding of R275-million in irregular expenditure for the Department.
A positive point is that MEC Majodina has attended all the meetings of the Committee with the Department of Public Works, which is much more than can be said of her predecessor, however, there is still a lot of work to be done to get the Department of Public Works back on track.
Rural Development and Agrarian Reform – Score: 4/10 (5)
The Department’s audit opinion has regressed from Clean audit in the past financial year to Unqualified audit opinion with material findings.
The Department has underspent on its budget by R11,625-million, which speaks to a lack of monitoring on spending patterns, and incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R1,047-million
Farmer support and development underspent by R5,588-million in a year where farmers have been struggling with drought and are desperate for help.
Safety and Liaison – Score: 5/10 (4)
The Department of Safety and Liaison has not had a permanent Head of Department for the past two years. This seriously hampers its ability to conduct oversight and hold the South African Police Service and Community Policing in the Eastern Cape to account.
Crime stats have shown that incidents of murder for the last financial year have risen by a staggering 5.2% (up from 3,628 to 3,815), meaning on average more than 10 people are being murdered each day in the province.
The Department has received a clean audit for a number of years, so from a technical point of view it is meeting its compliance objectives. However, it needs a leader that can hold SAPS fully accountable and improve the climate for Safety and Security in the Province.
Social Development – Score: 3/10 (3)
Social development is struggling to deliver on its core constitutional mandates. The past year has seen continuous poor performance of programmes, with less than half of the set targets reached; ineffective risk management; incapacities within supply chain management and weak internal controls.
Of particular concern is the number of incomplete forensic investigations and apparent lack of consequence management. A preliminary report into non-profit organisations funded by the department revealed scathing evidence against 266 of the Department’s own employees, who had not declared that they were also employed by the NPOs or were board members of NPOs which received funding. Also of concern is the non-payment of legitimate NPOs.
The Department received a qualified audit opinion for the 2017/18 financial year and underspend by R125-million rand on the final appropriation budget. The Department also incurred Irregular expenditure of R85,75 million for the year under review, of which R51 million was attributed to Eastern Cape Frail Care.
Sport Recreation Arts and Culture – Score 4/10 (4.5)
The Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture underspent its budget on libraries and archives, yet 35 libraries did not receive materials and two new libraries that were supposed to be completed did not materialise.
Sport and Recreation also failed to meet targets of increasing participation in sport activities, missing their target by nearly half.
The Department also incurred irregular expenditure of R39,5-million due to non- compliance with Supply Chain Management regulations.
Transport – Score 3/10 (4)
MEC Weziwe Tikana has failed to implement the 24-hour traffic law enforcement she promised, resulting in many road fatalities. The Department has also failed to implement effective and efficient scholar transport due to a lack of political will, with over 40,000 scholars not being transported. The MEC for Transport must work hand in hand with DOE to ensure that all children have access to transport.
The Department continues to squander funds by funding a failed entity, Mayibuye Transport Corporation. MTC incurred an irregular expenditure of R19,7 million over the last three financial years. Furthermore, the department of transport has either lost or written of an amount of R130.6 million, this shows complete and utter incompetence from the Department officials. One needs to question if there is proper management, oversight and monitoring as well as work ethics of staff in this Department?