Speech lacked substance

2011-02-25 00:00

KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize found himself compared to actress Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth husband over his state of the province address.

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said “One got the strange sense that the premier felt much like Elizabeth Taylor’s eighth husband must have felt on their wedding night: he knew what had to be done; he just didn’t know how to make it any different.

Steenhuisen said what was delivered was the “ghost of speeches past”, trotted out with the same calls for action, the same programmes, the same tired promises and the same platitudes.

There was nothing new, fresh or innovative in the address, he added.

This gave rise to robust debate, with ANC MPL’s accusing Steenhuisen of blowing hot air. MEC for Economic Development Mike Mabuyakhulu said that when he listened to Steenhuisen’s nine- minute address, “there was nothing new or exciting in his speech besides hot air and criticism”.

He said the state of the province address could not cover all areas, but offered pointers for the future.

The premier thanked opposition parties for a robust debate, saying he hadn’t been part of such a vibrant discussion for a long time; he said the detail they wanted would emerge in the months ahead.

He noted their concerns, responded to points raised and said some of the issues could be debated in detail in the future.

He thanked all parties in the legislature for their support, saying that, overall, members of the house have taken their responsibilities very seriously.

“This is all part of the game, part of the robustness of the debate, all of us are here to build the same province,” he added.


THE DA said the speech did not go far enough in tackling corruption. “We still do not have an effective system for regulating the business interests of employees and therefore have no real way of knowing who is actually benefitting from the department’s procurement procedures.”

Steenhuisen said he expected the premier to mention Ithala in his speech. “However, given the total mess in that institution, there is little wonder why the bank posted a R46,7 million loss this year and its suspended CEO and erstwhile head of treasury, Sipho Shabalala, remains under a cloud of accusations of bribery and corruption. He remains suspended when in fact he should have been fired.”

He was critical of the province’s “agrarian revolution”, saying this was the clarion call of the Premier’s 2009 speech. “Three years later, the premier indicates that “the agrarian revolution is set to take off in earnest”.

“‘Set to take off?’ we are all left asking ourselves.

“What on earth has been taking place in the previous three years? How many gardens have been created under the one home, one garden campaign?

“How many families have ­benefitted? Are these gardens still going?”

The speech was silent on all these key indicators,” he said.

THE official opposition in the legislature, the Inkatha Freedom party, announced the formal launch of a shadow cabinet to enhance oversight over the Provincial Government.

The announcement was made by IFP leader in the legislature Dr Bonginkosi Buthelezi soon after his response to the premier’s state of the province address.

Buthelezi joined other MPLs in the house in congratulating the province for reigning in overspending.

He lauded MEC for Finance Ina Cronje for what he called her no-nonsense, cost-cutting measures that had slashed the multi-billion rand provincial overdraft within the originally set time frame. “This is no small feat indeed,” he said.”

Buthelezi said, however, that the state of the province address lacked detail and substance.

On the job creation targets, he asked, “Have we not heard this all before?

“Since 1994 the ANC government has promised South Africans millions and millions of jobs which have never materialised.”

He said over-regulation of the job market is a deterrent to job creation. He expressed dissatisfaction that not enough is being done to tackle corruption.

“We have yet to see if the appointment of former judge President Vuka Tshabalala to preside over internal disciplinary hearings will improve the government’s record in this regard.”

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