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Opposition slams ‘repetitive’ address

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“The mandate of expropriation of land without compensation remains critical and as the ANC we will monitor its roll-out very closely."

SOPA NC. Pictures: Danie van der Lith

OPPOSITION parties in the Northern Cape have labelled Premier Sylvia Lucas’ State of the Province address (Sopa) as repetitive and lacking innovation.

Lucas delivered her address at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre in Kimberley yesterday.

DA provincial leader, Andrew Louw, said that the address was nothing more than a repetition of unattended matters.

“The premier failed to announce a new way forward for the provincial departments of Health and Education, which have both been burdened by a legacy of maladministration and poor service delivery. Instead, she attempted to massage the statistics on the 2017 matric pass rate to reflect an unrealistic and untrue picture of education in the Province. Having only one school in the John Taolo Gaetsewe district record a 100 percent matric pass rate is not a celebration, but rather a concrete condemnation of the quality of education being offered to our pupils,” said Louw.

He added that the controversial new mental health hospital in Kimberley, which is still under construction, did not enjoy any urgent attention from the premier.

“Seeing will be believing with regards to the completion of the mental health hospital. Its opening has been announced and subsequently postponed so frequently that today’s announcement lacks all credibility. We are also not amused by her frivolous approach to this serious matter, because the failure to provide medical care for those suffering from mental illnesses is not a laughing matter.”

Lucas, in her address, said that the mental health hospital is 98 percent complete and will be handed over in June this year.

The provincial leader of Cope, Pakes Dikgetsi, said that the address lacked any concrete, implementable plans.

“This Sopa was actually the last such address for the premier and her executive council in the current term. In this year she should be accounting to the people of the Province about work done in the medium-term from 2014 to date. She has failed to do so because they never had any credible plan or vision from the start.

“This time, like in every single year since 2014, she talks about ‘dialogue sessions’ on a Provincial Growth and Development Plan (PGDP). She refers to PGDP Vision 2040 when she will not be around because even her own political party just wants to see her out … as in yesterday.

Shifting

“At the end of her term she wants to usurp the functions of line departments, like shifting the municipal planning, spatial planning and land use management functions to the Office of the Premier (OTP). These are functions for Coghsta. The OTP is an oversight authority and it is surprising why she would want to create a bloated OTP.”

Dikgetsi added that Lucas did not say anything of substance regarding the fight against corruption in the Province.

“With regard to the fight against corruption, she has also dismally failed. She cannot tell the Province what impact the so-called Anti-Corruption Hotline has had since 2014. The ‘anti-corruption plans in all departments’ she referred to are certainly not worth the paper they are written on. What the people experience on a daily basis is depressing reports about corruption in the administration of departments, like the Health Department.

“She doesn’t take the people into her confidence to tell them about the case number and progress with regard to the charges she laid against MEC Mac Jack early last year, regarding the R26 million scandal.”

Dikgetsi said they will highlight the ineffectiveness of the provincial government during the upcoming Sopa debate.

“During the debate, and in the coming period, Cope will release its detailed analysis of the performance of the premier and her executive council over the past years. This should make for interesting reading and will expose of the weak and ineffectual ANC provincial government we have had since 2014, as they have failed and betrayed the trust the people placed in them,” Dikgetsi added.

The ANC in the Province meanwhile welcomed Lucas’ address.

The ANC provincial secretary, Deshi Ngxanga, said that the party will work around the clock to fight the challenges faced by communities in the Province.

“We take note of the progress made in a number of areas, and we will ensure that we monitor the implementation of all commitments made to address challenges such as unemployment, especially amongst our young people, and to address economic growth in the mining, agricultural and tourism sectors.

“The mandate of expropriation of land without compensation remains critical and as the ANC we will monitor its roll-out very closely.

“We trust that all hands will be on deck this year, as we ensure that we do not fail the legacy of Tata Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu,” said Ngxanga.