Can Mr Delivery do even better?

2013-02-10 10:00

In the run-up to Thursday’s state of the nation address, we assess how the president has lived up to his promises.

President Jacob Zuma’s government has started delivering on about 85% of his promises from last year.

This despite a difficult year for Zuma, marred by a scandal over multimillion-rand upgrades to his Nkandla residence and a battle to retain the ANC’s presidency.

On the eve of Zuma’s state of the nation address, to be delivered on Thursday night, City Press assessed some of the promises Zuma made last year.

We found 15% of the mooted projects had not yet started.

Work has started on some massive infrastructure development projects, which are expected to be a central theme in Zuma’s address again.

These projects are set to receive a boost should a bill be passed that sets up the presidential infrastructure coordinating commission as an organ of state with its own director-general.

The Infrastructure Development Bill is expected to be gazetted soon by Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel.

The proposed law gives the commission powers to speed up the delivery of major infrastructure projects and to expropriate land “for a public purpose”.

It indicates Zuma’s determination to make the R1.3?trillion infrastructure-development project the centrepiece of his legacy.

The infrastructure summit he convened in Sandton last year committed the private sector to invest in some of the projects.

Job losses in mining following last year’s violent wildcat strikes and possible job losses in agriculture following a steep rise in minimum wages are also likely to feature in Zuma’s address.

Ministers expressed concern about these issues during the recent Cabinet lekgotla, which ended in Pretoria on Friday.

Unkept promises include the pledge to set up a R1?billion guaranteed fund to promote access to home loans for people earning between R3?500 and R15?000.

However, City Press understands that National Treasury is working on an alternative funding model.

Eskom has not heeded Zuma’s undertaking in 2012 to slow down its electricity-price increases to speed up economic growth.

Instead it has applied for a 16% electricity tariff hike for each of the next five years.

Zuma last year announced the refurbishment of hospitals and nurses’ homes as part of the start of National Health Insurance (NHI).

Although the refurbishment has made slow progress, the NHI has been piloted in some districts.

Kwandiwe Kondlo, a professor at the University of Johannesburg’s School of Leadership, said Zuma’s performance in government had been “generally average”.

“The country is not going down and the government is not going to the dogs. With leadership aptitude, the government can perform much better.

“His performance is borderline, but he has disappointed those who expected the worst from him,” Kondlo said.

Acid minewater drainage

For now the danger of rising acid mine water in the Witwatersrand has subsided somewhat.

Last year President Jacob Zuma announced that R248?million would be invested over two years to deal with the issue.

Although there have been some accusations of the project running over budget and half-treated water being pumped into the Vaal River, the immediate danger was dealt with well.

Underground water levels linked to acid mine water in the Witwatersrand had been rising, and a plan had to be made to pump the water out and remove the toxic heavy metals before the water was released to surface water sources.

DA spokesman for environmental affairs Marti Wenger was updated recently on the progress, and she told City Press that giant steps had been taken in the “most problematic” area, the Western Basin.

Decanting work is continuing there and the water is being treated.

The treatment plant was also recently upgraded.

Emergency work is continuing in mining’s Central Basin, where the water is rising at such a rate that it could reach a critical level by October or November.

“There is a contractor on site, and they got exemption on the environmental impact assessment to proceed,” she said.

Contractors have been busy on the site since Friday last week and a pump station has been assembled. – Carien du Plessis

Mzimvubu dam

The department of water affairs this week said it was still doing a feasibility study concerning the construction of a dam in Eastern Cape.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma promised major infrastructure roll-out projects in the province which included the building of the Umzimvubu Dam.

“In the former Transkei part of the Eastern Cape we are committed to building a dam using the Umzimvubu River as the source, in order to expand agricultural production,” Zuma said in his state of the nation address last year.

Bigboy Moagi, spokesperson for the department of water affairs, this week said his department was still on track with the project.

He said the feasibility study, which commenced in January last year, would be completed in December, running concurrently with the environmental impact assessment.

A detailed design was planned to start in January 2014, to be completed by 2015.

Moagi said they planned to start with construction in 2015/16 and finish by 2018. – Lubabalo Ngcukana

Water for some

Zuma has made good on his promise to find “an urgent solution” to the water woes plaguing the community of Ngobi, outside Hammanskraal.

Zuma mentioned the plight of this North West village during his state of the nation speech last year, which was followed by an official visit in June to unveil the 10 newly revamped boreholes that supply water to the community.

Their pumps had not been working properly, resulting in erratic water supply to Ngobi and neighbouring villages.

“You will have water forever,” he told the villagers as he opened a tap. Government was left with egg on its face, though, when it was reported a month later that Ngobi was still without water.

This week, the residents of Ngobi said their water woes were still far from being a thing of the past. But they said water supply was more reliable now.

Amos Pine, whose home Zuma visited last year, still stores backup water in a plastic drum in his back yard, just in case his tap goes dry.

It was his daughter, Mmatsheko, who wrote to Zuma complaining about the water-supply problems.

A new water reservoir to increase water supply for Ngobi and surrounding villages was still being built. – Sabelo Ndlangisa

New universities

Treasury has allocated more than R2?billion for the capital and operational expenditure of two new universities to be built in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga, following the endorsement of feasibility studies.

Higher education and training spokesperson, Vuyelwa Qinga, said the project to establish the universities in Kimberley and Nelspruit was on track.

Progress has been made, said Qinga, to select the sites in both provinces. Full feasibility studies for infrastructure and operations had been done.

Qinga added that the progress made also included:

»?An inspirational vision for each university, which has garnered broad support and the committed partnership of several other universities;

»?Land assembly and the establishment of spatial-planning frameworks for each institution;

»?Establishment of partnerships with several universities for academic programme development and implementation, as well as comprehensive planning for ensuring longer-term sustainability and human resource needs; and

»?Drafting of institutional guidelines for adoption by interim councils, as well as draft statutes for each university.

Qinga indicated that academic processes in the universities would start with a limited number of subjects in 2014 while construction would start in the second half of this year. – Cathy Dlodlo and Sizwe sama Yende

2012 State of the Nation speech promises

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