Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Draft Reply to the Debate on the State of the Province Address (SOPA)

Draft Reply to the Debate on the State of the Province Address (SOPA) by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Dr Zamani Saul
Northern Cape Provincial Legislature
8 March 2023

Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
Ladies and gentlemen,
Comrades and friends
Members of the Media

Allow me to thank all the Members of the Legislature that participated in the debate and I want to commend the positive attitude and conduct that was displayed throughout the debate.

We take note of the issues raised by all Honourable Members and in this reply I will provide this noble House with concrete and reliable proof in order that the necessary action can be pursued with vigour by the Provincial Government.

Honourable Members, we are partners in the fight against corruption and we thus implore you, to assist the process of dealing with the challenge of corruption by providing us with the necessary information that can lead to the successful prosecution of those involved.

In this regard I draw your attention to the statement made by President Ramaphosa in the recent State of the Nation Address and quote, “The National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council, consisting of people from across society, is in place to advise on suitable mechanisms to stem out corruption, including an overhaul of the institutional architecture for combatting corruption. We are working to capacitate the Witness Protection Unit and will introduce amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act, 2000 (Act 26 of 2000) and Witness Protection Act, 1998 (Act 112 of 1998) to strengthen protection for whistle-blowers.”

Honourable Mcgluwa referred to eight cases that are under investigation by the SIU. According to the report from the SIU, an investigation has been initiated against a company for 8 alleged counts of charging high or excessive prices to the Renosterberg Municipality for the procurement of PPE items. As far as the Department of Social Development investigation is concerned, three companies were referred to the Competition Commission for charging excessive prices. Honourable Speaker, honourable members, I think at some point we need to appreciate that the SIU was part of the collective efforts of the Provincial Government.

Honourable speakers and honourable members, Government has plans in place to deal decisively with the challenges of electricity in our country. On our energy strategy the President has shown his commitment to the energy crisis by appointing a Minister for Electricity.

To mitigate the negative effects of load shedding, Provincial Government is currently implementing a roof top project for Government Buildings. To this end, we intend to train 50 SMME’s across the Province.

To date, 24 of these companies have qualified in PV Green Card Certificate (industry requirements for those handling renewable energy) and 26 are finalizing the PV Green Card training. Treasury will be going out on a transversal tender in April 2023 and we expect installations to start in June this year. All the companies that managed to qualify will be put in business incubation in partnership with SEDA. With roof tops, Departments will manage to have a full 8 hour day and will save on electricity costs.

We also have a solar project sponsored by the Department of Minerals and Energy (DMRE) and Central Energy Fund in partnership with Sol Plaatje and Emthanjeni Municipalities. For Sol Plaatje, 6 000 solar geysers will be installed. Installation in Sol Plaatje started in November last year and to date 1 250 geysers have been installed.

For the Emthanjeni Municipal area, a total of 4000 geyser systems will be installed and to date 1 759 have been completed.

Honourable Mcgluwa, I want to agree with you that crime is a problem and we need effective policing and community involvement in fighting criminality. There is a glimmer of hope with the extra deployment of about 10 000 police in the country and of which 3000 were trained here in our province. This year there will be another recruitment of extra 10 000 police as announced by the President during the SONA.

Honourable Members, despite the significant improvement from 45% to 85% in the management of calls for ambulances, we are committed to work towards a 100% response rate in rendering emergency ambulance services. It must also be emphasised as I have stated in my Address, there is an increase of calls at our digital call centres, from 3000 to 10 000 calls average per month. Indeed this is a remarkable achievement and it proves what modernisation and digital systems can contribute to the improvement of healthcare services in our Province.

It must be clearly understood that the main objective of the BOKAMOSO Digital Health Strategy, is to establish Digital call centres for EMS in all five districts in this province. As a first phase approach, we have since established the Kimberley and Upington call centres and in the new financial year you will see the establishment of additional digital call centres in the other districts of the Province.

With reference to the 30 day payment and accruals, the Department of Health has registered a reduction in the 30-day payment from 97 days in 2021 to 46 days currently.

We must also emphasise that there has been a drastic reduction in our accruals which was standing at R590 million in April 2021, subsequently in April 2022 it was reduced to R315 million and at the last count the accruals were in the region of R210 million. This translates into a reduction exceeding 60% over the two financial years combined. This means that there is more money available now than in the past to settle debts that have been incurred in previous years. These positive developments can be attributed to Government’s commitment to financial prudence as well as prioritising the Departments of Health and Education.

Efforts to deal with the surgical backlog are in progress and we have entered into an agreement with strategic stakeholders in order to run additional surgical lists. We have already deployed some specialised skills to reach out to certain areas here in the Province.

Honourable Members, we are giving attention to unoccupied Government buildings in our Province and to this end we have already invited interested parties for expression of interest on their usage. We impress upon Public Works to maintain and secure all unoccupied Government buildings whilst engaging communities on their potential usage to advance community development.

Honourable Mcgluwa, Renosterberg and Magareng Municipalities form part of our Municipal support and Intervention Plan (MSIP), which we submitted to National COGTA. Provincially, these plans are monitored on a quarterly basis and duly reported to the Provincial Executive Council and the COGTA MINMEC. Both these municipalities have developed financial recovery plans and reports on their progress are submitted to Provincial Treasury on a monthly basis. COGHSTA also seconded an Acting Municipal Manager and Technical Director, while Provincial Treasury subsequently seconded a CFO. The freeze order on the Municipal account of Renosterberg Municipality was lifted. As far as the water pump that caused waste spillage into Vanderkloof dam is concerned, the pump was fixed by COGHSTA. With the support given by Provincial Government they managed to submit their Annual Financial Statements on time for the first time in eight years.

In relation to the water challenges at Magareng Municipality due to flooding of the pumps, the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Frances Baard District Municipality have made available their water tankers to provide water to all communities in need. As soon as the water levels in the Vaal River have subsided, we will provide support to ensure the restoration of water supply to the Magareng community.

Concerning the assertion made by Honourable Kenneth Konote, that the Edukite e-tablets for matric learners will not function adequately due to connectivity constraints; I wish to alleviate his apprehension. The Edukite learning application does not require any data to operate making it easy for Grade 12 learners through the length and breadth of our Province to access the online learning material with the mere touch of a button. We envisage that this initiative will contribute to the improvement of the learner outcomes for Grade 12 in the Province. Should Honourable Konote so desire, I will gladly offer him a demonstration on how the device works.

Also Honourable Members the R410 Million projects by both Vodacom and MTN to improve the capacity of their base stations are for this year. I hope that members noted that there is 4th Generation Network in Calvinia for Vodacom and that is due to the improvements of the base station capacity that they made in Hantam District about two years back. This and many other initiatives are clear indications that social compacting is starting to bear fruits for the province.

Ons wil graag ons dank uitspreek aan Agbare Lid Oom Danie Coetzee, vir sy konstruktiewe bydra. Soos alreeds in die Provinsiale Rede gestaaf is, is ons duidelik bewus van die nood van ons mense en ons verantoordelikheid teenoor hulle. Ons is dus nog hard besig om effektiewe dienslewering te bespoedig en ons verpligtinge na te kom.

Honourable Konote, I want to share some words of wisdom with you by Mark Twain that, “The truth has no defence, against a fool determined to believe a lie”. So, I’m not going to present any defence against the accusations you levelled against me because you seem so determined to believe lies, so live with those lies and I know that will give you the greatest pleasure in your life.

Honourable Members, as I conclude, I wish to repeat the call that I have been making in this august house since my Inauguration, that we must work together to build a prosperous and successful Northern Cape.

Honourable Members, ladies and gentlemen, as the Governing Party, we rely on the support of all role-players and stakeholders to contribute to the upward developmental trajectory of our Home Province.

I am certain that collectively we will overcome our difficulties and challenges in ushering in a prosperous and a modern Province to realise our mandate as bestowed by the vast majority of the people of the Northern Cape. I trust that you will partner with this Government as we travel this road together in advancing the future generations. As I have said, we must push this thing and make it work for the people of the Northern Cape.

Thank you

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