Who is Ace trying to fool with his triumphalism?
In Premier Ace Magashule’s column “Free State shows the revolutionary way” ( January 24 2016), as expected in an election year, Magashule came out to desperately defend the poor performance of his administration in an attempt to stem the ANC’s decline in electoral support.
It is ironic that Magashule would open with a discussion of the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution (NDR) and how it informs his administration’s programmes, when the NDR, an ANC ideology, is at odds with the ANC-led government’s policy, the National Development Plan (NDP).
International experiences indicate the NDR approach can never succeed at improving people’s lives.
Magashule’s Operation Hlasela is fraught with controversial projects, such as the Vrede Dairy and Diyatalawa Agri-Village projects, both of which are subject to investigation by the Public Protector.
In considering a government’s performance, it is appropriate to ask: “Compared with what?”
There is only one opposition-run province to compare the Free State with, the Western Cape.
Last year, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu acknowledged that the DA-led Western Cape government continued to excel in sound financial management, constantly improving on its audit outcomes while improving service delivery. It obtained 20 clean audits while the Free State managed only six.
Irregular expenditure in the Western Cape totalled R79 million. In the Free State, it was R1.5 billion.
Unemployment in the Western Cape is at 20.6%; in the Free State it is 31.5%. According to the expanded definition of unemployment, the Western Cape is the lowest, at 23.1%, with the Free State at 37.7%.
The Free State public health system faces regular medicine stockouts, poorly equipped medical facilities and severe staff shortages. Public health in the province has turned toxic, with an exodus of 177 medical doctors and 28 medical specialists last year. The department obtained qualified audit outcomes with material findings for four consecutive years.
Last year the department incurred R600 million in unauthorised expenditure. It failed to pay teacher salaries and school subsidies on time. More than 2 000 teachers resigned. For the class of 2014, almost 30 000 Free State learners left school between grades 10 and 12, bringing the dropout rate to 61%.
The Western Cape education department achieved the highest pass rate nationally, of 84.7%. It also obtained 41.7% bachelors’ passes. Every learner in the Western Cape who obtained their national senior certificate qualified for access to higher education, the first province to do so in a democratic South Africa.
Magashule celebrates the completion of the Gariep Dam fish hatchery, but not a single fish has been hatched. The Vrede Dairy Project, costing the Free State more than R190 million, has offered no benefit to any of its 80 beneficiaries, but has allegedly paid benefits to a Gupta-linked company.
The province is in the grip of the worst drought in decades, threatening food security and agriculture jobs. Magashule’s government could only allocate R39 million towards relief aid, but found millions to purchase luxury German sedans for traditional leaders and the provincial government over the past two months.
Governance and financial management
The Free State department of human settlements has a backlog of 63 501 title deeds that still need to be registered in the names of beneficiaries. The department’s target was set at 6 895, but only 663 were registered. Likewise, the target for the construction of new houses was set at 4 358, but only 422 were built.
The Western Cape department of human settlements managed to transfer full ownership of property to 31 350 beneficiaries during the 2014/15 financial year.
Under Magashule, the Free State has become poorer, unemployment has increased, service delivery has deteriorated and economic growth has stagnated. Comparing the Free State government’s performance with that of the Western Cape, it is clear the DA is the only party in government that delivers on its promises – improving lives, creating prosperity. Van Vuuren is DA chief whip in the Free State
legislature and spokesperson on finance