The full, unabridged ASOPA Speech as presented by Nquaba Bhanga, the Democratic Alliance Candidate for Eastern Cape Premier, on Wednesday 13 February 2019 at the Athenaeum in Port Elizabeth:
Ladies and gentlemen, Members of the press, fellow democrats
“All warfare is based on deception. hence when we are able to attack, we must seem unable, when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; we must make him believe we are near. – Sun Tsu, Art of War.”
The above quotation from the Chinese military strategist Sun Tsu prompts to my memory the difficult nights and days I have spent with our activists and professional staff in the dusty roads of our beautiful province, the Eastern Cape and the kilometres I have travelled exposed me to the difficult life lived by many people that are left outside in our province. I was touched by the stories I have heard.
My fellow Democrats, I want to express my appreciation for your dedication and hard work that each of you has shown as we strive to make a difference in the lives of our fellow South Africans.
As we strive to fight corruption, build an honest, professional police service, secure our borders, create fair access to long term, sustainable jobs and speed up basic service delivery.
Thank you for your commitment to bring about change, for going above and beyond what is expected of you. We also thanks you for the late nights and early mornings and for tirelessly working together to build One South Africa for all.
Unfortunately, I am here today to tell you that our work is not yet done, in fact it is going to get harder and challenging as we traverse our province.
EASTERN CAPE A BROKEN PROVINCE
I say this because every day it becomes more evident that the Eastern Cape is a broken province.
Broken by the hands of a failing ANC government that, for the past 25 years, has placed its own interests above those of the people.
A failing ANC that is once again coming with empty promises, telling the people how they have changed, how things will get better, but these are the same hollow words we have all heard before.
I am here today to share with you the true state of the Eastern Cape.
The Eastern Cape is our home, it is a province rich in cultural diversity and untapped potential, it is the birthplace of Molly Blackburn, Lilian Didiedricks and Oliver Tambo and many other great leaders, but it is broken.
Our children are being denied quality education. Our mothers and fathers live in squalor, waiting in vain for the homes they were promised that never get built. Our brothers and sisters go to bed hungry. Unable to find work here, they leave to seek work elsewhere.
When our health fails, there is no help, the clinics are full, the hospitals in ruins. Our roads are crumbling, our water is drying up. Service delivery is in shambles and crime is escalating.
But I do not want you to lose hope, Democrats. I tell you this because the first step in solving a problem is admitting that there is one.
Many are quick to point fingers at the Democratic Alliance and accuse us of doing nothing but criticising the ANC, but this is not true.
For the past six months I have travelled the length and breadth of this province. I have engaged with communities and listened to their stories.
I have seen with my own eyes how the ANC has forgotten the people of the Eastern Cape.
HONEST, PROFESSIONAL POLICE
My Fellow Democrats, there can be no doubt that the police service is failing this province.
The bloody wave of violent crimes continue to sweep through our Province, with the latest crime statistics showing that Murder has risen by a staggering 5.2%.
On average more than 10 people are being murdered each day in the province.
The Eastern Cape also has the second highest recorded murders for women and children, after Kwazulu Natal, with 550 women and 180 children murdered.
We must never forget Zavier Jassen the 17 year old from Helenvale who was shot in gang related murder. I want to remind the people of the Eastern Cape about the brutal murder of three children in Booysen Park. All the above remain a painful reminder to many, that the idea of a safe and peaceful south Africa remains a pipedream to many poor South Africans .
Democrat’s this is unacceptable.
To deal with this as the DA government, we will establish a capable metro police services both in Buffalo City and Nelson Mandela Metro’s with the capacity to fight gang violence and drug operations ,under a DA government in Nelson Mandela Bay we 139 police officers and insourced 460 security services into the municipality staff , we will enhance the skills in the police
The Democratic Alliance would introduce a Community Safety bill, along the lines of the Bill that was passed in the Western Cape which makes provision to improve accountability of the provincial legislature over the SAPS.
We would improve oversight over the SAPS by appointing an independent ombudsman, as has been done in Western Cape. We will also as well introduce unannounced midnight visits to all crime infested areas.
We would ensure that recommendations of the Department of Safety and Liaison, around oversight of SAPS, are enforced.
We would root out corruption in SAPS.
SECURE OUR BORDERS
Democrats, no country in the world can afford not to secure their borders, as uncontrolled immigration violates the rights of ordinary South Africans, who have to compete for scarce resources.
The ANC government is incapable of ensuring law and order in the country. They only care about enriching themselves and are incapable of managing the real problems South Africans face.
The Department of Home Affairs is riddled by corruption and disorganisation and has caused an immigration system failure, followed by violence and tragedy.
This is not what we were promised!
As premier I will lobby the President to address this issue as a matter of urgency!
We need a leadership that is capable to change and deal with the problems South Africans face.
We are prepared to take the bull by its horns in piloting the cleaning of our major CBD’s buy removing illegal immigrants and to also deal with the cross border criminal syndicates in our major towns.
We will clean illegal and drugs activities in Quigney East London CBD and in Central in Port Elizabeth and this will be done to bring back prospective property investment in these economic nodes. We will take back hijacked buildings from vagrants and revamp these areas for urban housing, entertainment and tourism centres
LONG TERM, SUSTAINABLE JOBS
Democrats, under the failing ANC Government, the Eastern Cape continues to have the highest levels of unemployment in the country.
Yesterday the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, released by Stats SA, showed that unemployment in the province continued to rise, with the fourth quarter up by 0.5%, from 35.6% to 36.1%.
The Eastern Cape also has the highest expanded unemployment rate at 46.8%, growing from 1,129 million people in the fourth quarter in 2017 to 1,210 million in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Hundreds of thousands of people cannot put bread on the tables of their families and the numbers are only getting worse.
The hardship of unemployment is wreaking havoc amongst families as they battle to pay for schooling, food and medical expenses.
Those in power are exploiting this, demanding sex for jobs! This cannot be tolerated!
The Democratic Alliance has shown that where we govern, we govern well. Three quarters of all jobs created in the past year were created in the DA-governed Western Cape, despite a crippling drought in the area.
In contrast the people of this province have been neglected. The hope we all felt in the build up to the 1994 elections has been replaced by hopelessness.
Our brothers and sisters are leaving this province and their homes to seek out opportunity in the DA-run Western Cape.
You see, Democrats, the DA has a blueprint, a vision, to improve the lives of all South Africans as we continue building one South Africa for all.
Our families should not have to abandon their homes to earn a living, they must be given the opportunity to build their best lives in the province of their birth.
I have a vision, where A DA-led government will build a province of rising opportunity that will entice our brothers and sisters back home. That will provide them the opportunity to live their best lives here.
I have heard the call of the president in waiting, Mmusi Maimane, of putting a job in every home, and I will make this the core focus as Eastern Cape premier.
One only has to compare Nelson Mandela Bay under a DA-led coalition government, to what we have today. A coalition of corruption whose sole purpose is to raid the public purse for their own personal gain.
According to a National Treasury Special Audit Services Report, R1.6 billion was squandered by the provincial government between 2011 and 2017.
Funds which were earmarked for mobile classrooms, roads and housing in the province.
The Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Public works spent R632 million fixing some of the roads in the province, without the projects going out to tender. All these contracts were awarded between 2013 and 2016 with the companies being handpicked and appointed through deviations
Even when it comes to normal spending, the ANC is failing this province. It pays lip service to belt tightening, while Departments eat the money.
When I say eat the money, I mean it literally, with the last financial year showing that R102-million was spent on catering, up to more than R20-million from 2016/17.
The Education Department spent over R63-million on catering, money that could have been spent on books, libraries, computer labs and the rolling out of e-learning. Money that could have been spent on getting rid of pit latrines and mud schools.
Spending on consultants also increased by over R23,6-million year-on-year, up from R541 to R565-million, while travelling and accommodation rose dramatically from R720 to R792-million.
My fellow Democrats, we have a plan to tackle this wasteful expenditure.
The DA believes that every line item should be reviewed, and non-core expenditure should be radically reduced. We would establish audit intervention teams for every department, to work towards clean audits.
We would open up the procurement processes to the public, so that they could watch the adjudication of tenders and we would enforce consequence management, and a zero tolerance for corruption.
A DA government would ensure that money meant for the people is spent on the people, and that those who practice corruption are nailed and jailed!
I visited many municipality municipalities I can confirm that all municipalities under the ANC government have collapsed the local municipal infrastructure is collapsing due
To lack of municipal financing of the underground infrastructure maintenance, Great Kei, Emalahleni, Enoch Mgijima, Makana, Walter Sisulu has been run down due to negligence under ANC rule. I believe General elctionsthe biggest rejection of the ANC will come from Local government in 2019
SPEED UP BASIC SERVICE DELIVERY
When the DA says it will speed up basic service delivery, we are talking about access to electricity, water and sanitation.
Half of the province is on the brink of one of the worst droughts ever to hit us. For many towns and cities, the reality of Day Zero is fast approaching, if it has not already arrived.
Makhanda is days away, Graaff Reinet’s water is already undrinkable.
Why has there been no action from the respective municipalities? Where is the ANC-led government? What are they doing to assist in this time of crisis?
The DA-led Western Cape faced a similar crisis not so long ago but were able to avert it.
I want to take this opportunity to thank our Team One SA volunteers who have been distributing water to those in need in Graaf Reinett.
When we talk about basic services, we are also referring to tackling things like the eradication of mud schools.
In 2011 the ANC promised there would be no more mud schools by 2018.The national department of Basic Education set aside R11-billion in 2011 to replace 530 mud schools in the province.
The Eastern Cape Education Department now estimates that the eradication of mud schools will only be a reality in 2022.
There are still 436 mud schools that are operational in the province, with an estimated additional price tag of R16.9 billion.
My Fellow Democrats, that does not even take the eradication of pit latrines at schools into consideration!
The ANC has proven that it can build toilets. Thousands upon thousands of them rise up out of the bush across the province. Yet, when it comes to providing toilets to schools, their skills suddenly fail them.
Our children are forced to place their lives at risk, squatting in the bush or using deadly pit latrines.
Because apparently there is no money available to build toilets for our children. There is no lucrative tender deal designed to tap on public monies at inflated prices for the politically connected.
Those toilets in the bush are monuments to the corruption that is part and parcel of the ANC.
The ANC will tell you that this is not true, that the toilets are part of the roll out of housing schemes for the communities that live there, but where are the houses? They have not, and most likely will never, be built.
Ten years and longer these toilets have stood, with not one foundation dug for the houses meant to accompany them. Meanwhile, thousands of families across this province are still waiting for the homes promised to them by the ANC.
Promises made when the ANC remembers it needs votes to stay in power. But the truth is the ANC is building less and less houses in the province.
Human Settlements has said that, due to budget cuts, it only intends to build 8,950 houses this financial year, compared to the 11 158 houses built in 2017/18.
A drop in the ocean compared to the massive 660,000 housing backlog in this province.
It is therefore inconceivable that, even with this massive backlog, there are houses that have been built, standing empty.
Housing registry lists are in disarray. Families whose names were on the list for years, suddenly find themselves removed the day the earthworks begin. The ANC doesn’t care about the people of this province.
Democrats, let me go back to the Education Department for a minute.
Not so long ago, the province celebrated that, for the first time in years, the Eastern Cape was not at the bottom when it comes to the matric pass rate, beating Limpopo and breaking through the 70% matric pass rate barrier.
Unfortunately, this is just more smoke and mirrors by the failing ANC government.
What the Department did not mention is that of the 106,599 learners in the province who enrolled for the National Senior Certificate at the beginning of the year, only 65,733 wrote their final exams.
What happened to the other 40,866 learners?
We have asked the Department to clarify this, but we are still waiting for answers.
If we look further back, there were 148,346 learners in the province who were registered for Grade 10 in 2016, which means that the real Matric pass rate last year was just 31, 3%!
The ANC does not care about our children. They throw them by the wayside so that they can look good on TV.
How are we going to fix the problem of a failing education system if we refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem? If we manipulate the numbers at the expense of the very children we are supposed to be educating?
How are we ever going to see a real improvement when 2,727 teachers in grades 10 to 12 are teaching subjects that they are not qualified to teach? When 264 teachers do not have the necessary professional qualifications to teach, at all!
The DA will not shy away from this problem. I want to stress that this is not something you can fix overnight, it will take time and effort. You cannot fix a production line at the end, when the problem is at the beginning.
A DA led provincial government will focus on literacy and numeracy in the first four years of a learner’s schooling, as this is the foundation upon which all future learning is based.
We will introduce and sustain a mentor programme to assist underperforming schools and we will review the appointments of principals, as too many schools lack leadership.
We will ensure that the principals sign performance contracts with the Department and have inspectors that regularly visit classrooms.
We will prioritise all critical posts and populate vacancies with appropriately qualified educators.
We will also develop and implement teacher development programmes and introduce E-learning, apprenticeships and supervised after-school curricula.
Democrats, we need to fix our education system, our roads, get rid of the red tape, fire failing officials and above all, we need political leadership that can win the trust of investors and the people alike.
We need to put our country and our province on a new path that will result in jobs being created and corruption eradicated.
My fellow Democrats, there is still much that I want to tell you about this province. There are many challenges within each of the portfolios that need to be unpacked, but we are limited for time.
In the coming week, each of my honourable colleagues, seated here, will respond to the Premier’s State of the Province Address and will give their inputs on the challenges that this province faces.
We have compiled a report card on the state of each of the Departments in the Province, looking at their overall performance, and have given them a score out of 10.
The Office of the Premier 3/10
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs 3/10
Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism 3/10
Human Settlements 3/10
Provincial Treasury 4/10
Public Works 4/10
Rural Development and Agrarian Reform 4/10
Safety and Liaison 5/10
Social Development 3/10
Sport Recreation Arts and Culture 4/10
I am sad to say that, based on the results, it is clear that the ANC has failed this province.
As I conclude, I want to assure each of you that the DA remains committed to ensuring an open, opportunity society for all people of the Eastern Cape based on the principals of Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity.
The Eastern Cape is a broken province in need of urgent fixing; it needs a rescue plan that builds one province for all.
I have a vision of an Eastern Cape that is a province of rising opportunity for all.
The DA will continue to fight corruption to ensure that all public money is spent on the people of the Eastern Cape.
We are committed to fixing the South African Police Service to become an honest and professional organisation and to securing the borders of our province.
We are also committed to speeding up basic service delivery and creating fair access to real and long-term jobs for the people of the Eastern Cape.
We will be launching our national manifesto on the 23rd of February, where we will unpack these issues further.
Where we govern we want to continue making progress and where we do not currently govern, our offer to voters is to bring the change we need to move the province forward.
The time has come for the people of the EC to be served by a government that puts their interests first.
Only the DA can bring the change that creates a better future and builds One South Africa for All.