Premier Zamani Saul has meanwhile committed to ensuring that all pupils who have not received school places will be accommodated in mobile classrooms
NORTHERN Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul maintained that all participants who undertook an “official business trip” to Tanzania had paid for their own immunisations.
During his reply to the 2021 State of the Province address on Thursday, Saul indicated that members of the opposition were welcome to use the necessary state institutions if they felt the need to address their concerns.
“I only realised that I paid for my immunisation and I am supposed to claim back the money as it was an official trip, so I will have a few cents in my pocket. Everyone who participated in the Tanzania trip paid for their own immunisations,” said Saul.
This was in reply to an enquiry regarding the trip that was taken to Tanzania and Zanzibar in 2019.
The DA and EFF wanted to know the purpose of the visit and who funded the entourage.
EFF provincial leader Aubrey Baartman said the matter was referred to the ethics committee as well as the public protector for investigation.
“We are still awaiting their findings. We understand that millions of rand were spent on the trip and that it was funded by departments and municipalities. The entourage of between 16 to 20 people included ANC members who were given travel and subsistence allowances of R60 000 each,” said Baartman.
He added that the party queried the cost of immunising the travellers.
“If they all paid for themselves where did the money go that was paid to the doctor to immunise them? The immunisations reportedly came at a cost of R800 per person.”
Saul meanwhile committed to ensuring that all children who had not received school placements would be accommodated in mobile classrooms.
“The Department of Education has ordered 60 mobile classrooms and are urgently recruiting more teachers to accommodate the 2 400 children who have not been placed yet, due to the unavailability of space. Even though this comes with major financial pressure, we cannot allow a single child of school-going age to go without an education due to inadequate infrastructure.”
He added that “no stone would be left unturned” to improve the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination results.
“The Department of Education has indicated that the Province has developed an improvement plan that focuses on underperforming schools, progressed learners, leadership and consequence management.”
Saul indicated that all members of the provincial legislature, including members of opposition parties, would be deployed to assist underperforming schools and struggling health institutions in the Province.
“The 2021/22 financial year will be difficult due to a tight fiscus. We all need to work together as a team to confront the challenges of poverty and unemployment. Opposition party members must have practical experience when they speak about the challenges that these institutions are facing. They must be actively involved.”
He indicated that internal auditors were instructed to investigate all personal protective equipment (PPE) spending in the Province.
“Based on their findings, it was found that most departments had complied with procurement processes. The report was submitted to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) for further investigation. It will be the first task of the provincial office that will be established in the Northern Cape to deal with PPE procurement, in the interests of transparency and clean governance. We feel confident that the SIU will investigate any form of malfeasance and corruption.”
In defence of the deputy Speaker of the legislature, Mangaliso Matika, in reply to the DA, Saul pointed out that he had been appointed to the board of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital before he ascended to his position at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature.
Saul pointed out that the legislature took its role of exercising oversight of the executive seriously.
He added that the appointment of heads of departments had been halted after the Province had to surrender R702 million to National Treasury to assist in managing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Candidates to fill the posts were interviewed and short-listed. However, a moratorium had to be placed on filling funded vacancies, or risk not being able to pay the salaries of civil servants.”
Saul said he was concerned about the state of Sol Plaatje Municipality.
“We will not rest until stability is brought to all municipalities in the Province. Sol Plaatje Municipality is the biggest municipality in the Northern Cape and investors will not feel assured that we are looking after their investments if they do not see quality roads and a clean city.”