KZN Legislature Pietermaritzburg: Thursday, 24 March 2011
The 24th of March 2011 is the World TB Day and the
theme for this year is "On the move against Tuberculosis -
Transforming the fight towards elimination" and it inspires
innovation in TB research and care. I know that many people would be
surprised by my opening remarks since this budget debate is on Vote
1, but as Honourable Members would know, TB has always been one of
the biggest challenges facing KwaZulu-Natal.
As the Honourable Premier is the Chairperson of
the Provincial AIDS Council and a medico by profession he would know
that TB is the number one opportunistic infection in people living
with HIV/Aids and the Official Opposition wishes to remind the rest
of our province that we must join hands in fighting the twin
epidemics of HIV/Aids and TB.
The Office of the Premier is the hub of the
provincial government and its role is to ensure coordination,
monitoring, evaluation and accountability of individual departments.
In our alternative budget framework which mirrors the budget
before us today, we are proposing three measures to improve all of
these aspects of the department’s mandate.
Firstly, in order to improve its overall project
management capacity, we propose the establishment of a live access
computer-based database that would allow the Premier, each MEC and
all senior civil service managers live access to management
information on every major project in the provincial government to
improve coordination across departments.
The database would also be accessible to all
municipalities in order to improve coordination of intergovernmental
projects. The database
would not only hold the right people to account, but it would also
allow continuous monitoring of progress and ensure coherence between
business plans and performance reports.
A case in point is the housing situation in the
province where poor alignment between different spheres of
government had resulted in the rescheduling of housing projects,
under-expenditure and roll-over of funds earmarked for the delivery
of houses. The Premier has reported that delays in clearing issues
of land ownership and the provision of bulk infrastructure had
resulted in R80 million from a conditional grant being returned to
the National Treasury.
Although a Special Task Team has been appointed to
deal with challenges in housing projects, the Official Opposition
believes that the proposed live access database would go a long way
in addressing these issues. It would expedite the planning stages of
the housing projects and it would also help project managers to
stick to a proper schedule. Ultimately, it would deliver the desired
quantity and quality of housing that the people of this province
expect from this government.
Secondly, we have noted that government
departments are either working in silos with regard to disaster
management or there is duplication of interventions by various
departments when disaster strikes in the province. At present, no
fewer than five government departments are directly involved in the
management of natural disasters in this province. They are the
Office of the Premier, the Department of Cooperative Governance and
Traditional Affairs, the Department of Social Development, the
Department of Human Settlements and the Department of Transport.
It is this costly confusion of responsibilities
that has prompted us to propose that disaster management be
concentrated in the Office of the Premier to prevent duplication of
functions in other departments and to ensure speedy response to
disasters by coordinating the provincial government’s action
directly with affected municipalities.
Thirdly, we maintain that the Office of the
Premier should embark on a thorough review of all public entities
attached to various departments to assess their performance and
determine whether or not they are still fulfilling their legislative
or statutor .... re still relevant to the government’s overall policy
approach and whether they justify the budget allocations earmarked
Undoubtedly, some of our public entities are not
delivering on their mandate or have become havens of extravagant
expenditure that is hidden from public scrutiny. The outcome of the
proposed review would lead to reallocation of funding from the
wasteful and unfocused public entities towards the ones that are
genuinely delivering on their mandate.
The Office of the Premier has committed itself to
roll-out the Youth Ambassadors programme, which commenced in 2010/11
financial year and even received an additional allocation in last
year’s Adjustments Estimates. The objective of this programme is to
enlist the youth to conduct provincial household surveys to profile
the needs of their communities.
The government’s intentions are generally good,
but the wheels always fall off along the route of cadre deployments.
This is due to the fact that some of these programmes fail to
deliver on their mandates when they are put to the test. We will
closely monitor this programme and ensure that it is solely used to
serve the interests of government and not for party political
Apart from conducting household surveys and
implementation of other government programmes we suggest that the
Youth Ambassadors could also be used as ambassadors for the 2011
Census since the quantification of exact population numbers in
KwaZulu-Natal is important in the allocation of money to provinces
through equitable share.
On the same breath we propose that the Honourable
Premier and his government play a crucial role, in words and action,
to reap on the benefits of Durban’s hosting of the upcoming UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change in November 2011 and to
showcase the province’s diverse developmental programmes. This is a
unique opportunity to build on the good work this government had
done in the run-up to and during the 2010 Soccer World Cup in
promoting our province as a tourist destination of choice.
We commend the commitment of the Honourable
Premier and his cabinet to clean governance and his government’s
decision to appoint former KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Vuka
Shabalala to chair the internal disciplinary hearings of civil
servants implicated in fraud and corruption. Such an appointment was
We believe that such a high-profile appointment
will raise the expectations we all have from this new
anti-corruption structure. More importantly, we hope that the
pressure on the Judge from this House, the media and the wider
public will be enough for his disciplinary committee to yield
positive results and act as an effective deterrent for errant
However, the government’s commitment to fighting
corruption in its own ranks should not end with the setting up of
yet another corruption-busting body. The Office of the Premier must
take this fight further and assist this Legislature, and
specifically our SCOPA, as well as the wider public with opening
access to the many outstanding forensic investigations, which have
not been released for years.
Releasing these documents would not only bring
closure to the many unresolved challenges in the provincial
government but it would signal an era of new openness and
transparency. Most importantly, it would add substance to the
promises and pledges we have heard so often before.
I thank you.
Contact: Dr Bonginkosi Buthelezi, 082 516 0156