North West Premier Job Mokgoro, has for the first time in his state of the province address (Sopa), not given an update about section 100 intervention and the ongoing investigations involving more than R2 billion in tenders and contracts in the province.
Delivering his Sopa in Mahikeng on Thursday, Mokgoro made not much mention of issues related to the province being under administration.
But he shared how his administration planned to tackle the rot in the provincial government and its entities. He said his office was inundated with allegations of corruption and related crimes.
All these allegations would be investigated internally before being handed over to law enforcement agencies.
The premier said he aimed to achieve “a capable and honest government, improved leadership, governance and accountability, a functional, efficient and integrated government, a professional, meritocratic and ethical public administration and the mainstreaming of gender and empowerment of youth and persons with disabilities”.
Previously Mokgoro has given an update of how the section 100 intervention was doing.
He has also touch on how investigations by the Hawks and Special Investigations Unit (SIU) among others, were going in the cases that contributed to the near collapse of the North West administration. But he did not give any updates on Thursday.
Mokgoro delivered his Sopa just a few days after law enforcement agencies presented their progress reports to the National Council of Province’s ad hoc committee on the section 100 intervention in the North West on Monday.
The ad hoc committee heard that cases under investigation and those investigated were with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) or already in court. The province lost R2.3 billion in dubious contracts, irregularly awarded tenders and other related crimes.
He mentioned section 100 three times in his February 15 2019 address and five times last year. Neither section 100, SIU, Hawks nor the NPA were mentioned while the word corruption was cited only four times.
Mokgoro said his administration was ready to fight the rot in the provincial government. “My office is inundated with allegations of fraud, corruption, maladministration relating to departments, entities, municipalities and traditional councils.
“We have therefore found it necessary that these matters must be investigated speedily and where there is prima facie evidence such matters must be escalated to the law enforcement agencies,” the premier said.
“In this regard, from April we are establishing a provincial forensic investigation unit, to perform investigations on allegations of identified fraud, maladministration and corruption in provincial departments, public entities, municipalities and traditional authorities. This forensic unit will be established within the provincial Treasury and will be reporting directly to the premier.”
Mokgoro also gave an update on last year’s promise that lifestyle audits would be conducted on himself and his executive.
“We are happy to announce that we are at an advanced stage to secure the services of a reputable service provider for this specific assignment, who should start duty at the beginning of April this year,” he said.
“The state’s capability to deliver services is uneven and at times uncoordinated. We have therefore resolved to address maladministration, poor governance and corruption across all three spheres of government, including public entities, decisively.
“We are prioritising the implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy towards building an ethical state within the context of the new normal, as induced by the negative effects of the Covid-19 [pandemic].
“We remain concerned about the state of financial management in the province. This situation impacts negatively on the ability of the municipalities to deliver critical services of water, sanitation, electricity, roads and refuse removal.”
Mokgoro, who has been in the job for almost three years, has been leading the province under the watchful eye of the section 100 administrators. The direct intervention was recently extended to the end of June just a few weeks after it was announced that administrators would leave the province next month.
City Press has previously reported on the hostility against the intervention and its administrators and how Mokgoro wanted it withdrawn so he could take full charge. H said he wanted to be judged on his performance.
On service delivery issues, Mokgoro said his administration had “completely eradicated all traditional pit latrines in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati and the Bojanala Platinum districts while all the pit latrines in the Ngaka Modiri Molema district will be completely eradicated from our schools by the end of next month”.
He said more classrooms are needed, adding that new schools were being built and water supply was being prioritised.
“The outbreak of Covid-19 came with new protocols, among them that pupils and teachers had to maintain social distancing. This implied that more classrooms would be needed, greater effort should be given to providing running water for all schools, proper fencing would be required and appropriate sanitation facilities a must,” Mokgoro said.
“There are 46 new schools under construction, and we have completed 19. In the 2021/22 financial year, we’ll be kick starting plans for the
construction of 25 new schools at a cost of R597 million to further create space for social distancing, alleviate overcrowding and reduce the number of pupils who need scholar transport. This will create 3 140 jobs.”
After visiting areas affected by recent floods in the province he said: “Preliminary assessments were completed by February 22 and about 4 000 houses across the province were affected. These include houses that have totally collapsed, some that are partially damaged – windows broken, roofs blow away – and the majority are mud houses that are slowly disintegrating because of the persistent rains,” the premier said.
“Temporary shelters are being considered to assist families who have lost their homes, as well as those whose homes are still submerged or not habitable.”
He said roads were also damaged and the internal workforce was currently being used for repairs while remaining work will be carried out in the new financial year with small medium and macro enterprises contractors brought in.
Mokgoro said the province was working to deliver quality homes and shoddy workmanship would not be allowed.
“Close to 40% of beneficiaries reported weak walls and 30% indicated weak roofs requiring rectification resulting in wasteful and fruitless expenditure,” he said.
“The fact that our people are dependent on government for housing in no way should subject them to shoddy workmanship or substandard houses. We are taking a hard stance against these contractors by ensuring that they go back and repay and/or rebuild these houses at their own cost.
“Contractors who fail to deliver as agreed in their contracts will be terminated so that we can appoint contractors who will deliver the number of houses we are committing to.”