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Sopa to cost over R2m

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The Sopa will also be broadcast live on all community radio stations across the Northern Cape

It is all systems go for the 2018 State of the Province Address taking place today at the Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre. Picture: Danie van der Lith

OVER R2 million will be spent on the State of the Province address (Sopa), set to be delivered by Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas in Kimberley today.

The Northern Cape Provincial Legislature will today host 1 300 guests for the Sopa, where Lucas will set out government’s key policy objectives and deliverables for the year ahead and highlight achievements, challenges and outline interventions to unlock development interventions for the coming financial year.

Amongst the guests expected to attend will be foreign dignitaries, religious leaders, representatives from non-government organisations and members of the general public, who will be bussed in from the Province’s five districts (Namaqua, John Taolo Gaetsewe, Pixley ka Seme, ZF Mgcawu and Frances Baard).

The Sopa will also be broadcast live on all community radio stations across the Northern Cape.

Secretary to the Legislature, Patrick Moopelwa, said yesterday that the Sopa would be hosted at a cost of roughly R2.2 million, a figure that includes marketing, transport and accommodation for attendees, as well as catering and venue hire.

Political parties in the Province yesterday expressed their expectations for Sopa 2018, with the ANC saying that it hopes that Lucas will speak about how government intends to grow the economy of the Province, the distribution of wealth and job creation.

“Approximately 120 000 young people in the Province are without jobs and this remains a major concern for the ANC. We expect the premier to come up with an economic recovery plan that seeks to address the low levels of economic growth in the Province, with specific reference to the manufacturing sector that is expected to be a catalyst for the creation of jobs,” ANC provincial secretary, Deshi Ngxanga, said yesterday.

Ngxanga added that the ruling party was also expecting Lucas to touch on the issue of expropriation of land without compensation.

“We received a presentation from government that speaks to the skewed ownership of land in the Province. Out of 37 million hectares, 35 million hectares is privately owned and only 1.8 million hectares are in the hands of the state. As the ANC, we are of the view that we are unable to speak of transformation if these trends continue unabated. Therefore it becomes imperative that expropriation without compensation becomes a relevant and progressive tool to redress these ownership imbalances by ensuring that land gets distributed to our landless masses, for agricultural, commercial and residential purposes,” Ngxanga said.

The DA in the Province called on Lucas to “show some boldness and show who is in charge, especially with the undercurrents happening within the ANC”.

“We know that the premier is distracted by political infighting within the ANC and that this address might very well be her last, but she needs to focus on the people now and the politics later,” DA provincial leader, Andrew Louw, said.

“In her previous State of the Province address, the premier spoke at length about the national nine-point plan aimed at expanding the provincial economy. This plan has not taken effect in the provincial administration, with the exception of nine bullet points being copied and pasted into departments’ reports.

“As the recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey shows, our expanded unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the country and the ANC-led provincial administration has proven incapable of addressing the structural inequalities which underpin the high unemployment rates.

“While the premier previously bragged that the Back to Basics programme is bearing fruit in the Province, the reality is that fifteen of our municipalities are rated as ‘dysfunctional’. When one considers how frequent electricity and water disconnections have become, it is easy to see just how dysfunctional our municipalities truly are.”

Louw also urged Lucas to announce a better way forward for the departments of Health and Education, which he described as “on the brink of dysfunctionality”.

“We wait with baited breath to see if the newly appointed MEC for Health, Fufe Makatong, will address the rot in the Department of Health. Instead of hoping that announcing a few new projects will distract us from service delivery problems in the Province, the premier must give some feedback on outstanding projects. We do not want to hear that the mental health hospital is still under construction. We want to hear when it will be operational, when the doors will open and when the first patients will begin treatment at this much-needed facility,”

Louw added that the party looked forward to “hearing in greater detail” how the Province would benefit from recent announcements on drought relief.

Louw concluded by saying that the people of the Northern Cape were “tired of hearing about the same plans every year”.

“We are tired of politics and promises, we need implementation now.”

Cope said yesterday that it expected “nothing new or innovative” from Lucas’ Sopa.

“We know that she will just be moving her mouth and use some meaningless words and empty slogans that signify nothing. From the start, she and her provincial government never had any viable ideas about the needs and development priorities of the Province. Five years down the line this rudderless government still does not have an integrated Provincial Growth and Development Plan,” said Cope provincial leader Pakes Dikgetsi.

“At the tail-end of their term of office, it is only now that they run around like headless chickens trying to put together a diagnostic report. This is no time for diagnostic reports but time to account to the people about what they’ve been doing and why they have been drawing fat cat salaries.”

Dikgetsi added that poverty, joblessness and hopelessness are ravaging the majority of people in the Province, while “fat-cat leadership is just fixated on desperate personal survival in the raging factional battles of their party”.

“The finances of the provincial government are in shambles with no leadership responsibility or accountability. To date, irregular expenditure stands in excess of R10 billion. The auditor-general points out in his Consolidated Report for 2016/17 that ‘a lack of consequences by the political leadership is one of the key reasons for the outcomes not improving’ and also that ‘the commitments made by the premier were not implemented’,” Dikgetsi stated.