South Africa

SOPA Gauteng Debate

Opposition appeals to Premier Makhura to ‘be realistic and stop fantasies’

Opposition appeals to Premier Makhura to ‘be realistic and stop fantasies’
Gauteng Premier David Makura at the State of the Province Address where he stated that he wants to create 3.1 million jobes through "specific sectoral and spatial interventions." (Photo: Chanel Retief)

Opposition members of the Gauteng Legislature did not hesitate to remind Premier David Makhura that commitments he made during his State of the Province Address on Tuesday are ancient and not short of fantasy.

Two days ago, on Tuesday 25 February, Gauteng Premier David Makhura set out the provincial government’s plan to grow Gauteng’s economy. Growing Gauteng Together looks good on paper, as contained in an 85-page document, but the opposition denounced its legitimacy, reminding the premier that his promises sing like a tired tune. 

“We are falling deeper and deeper into crisis Honorable Premier,” DA MPL Solly Malatsi said. 

“Premier this is the time that we stop the politics and start dealing with what needs to happen if we are to grow Gauteng together.” 

Although Malatsi’s speech seemed to support the premier’s call for more social compacts among stakeholders, including political parties, he did not back down from asserting that the premier’s SOPA was dreamy. 

“We need to make sure that we face reality and to tell the people of Gauteng about the dire situation that we find ourselves in. And I found, unfortunately, what you were saying on Tuesday to be sanitising the problems we are sitting with, to be regurgitating the old plans that you have been slow in their movements,” Malatsi said. 

One of many Makhura’s commitments, which he rehashed on Tuesday, involves turning Ekurhuleni in the East Rand into Africa’s largest Aerotropolis. 

“You talk about the Aerotropolis as if it’s a brand new plan that is going to be the saviour of Ekurhuleni. That plan was first announced by the then Mayor Mondli Ngungubele in 2011,” Malatsi said. 

The DA MPL challenged Makhura to disclose how many jobs have been created when the plan was first announced in 2011.

Makhura’s announcement that six new hospitals will be built within the next 10 years was denounced by DA MPL Jack Bloom, who reminded the premier that the construction of the last two hospitals took almost eight years. 

“The Chinese built a hospital within 10 days, but will all these hospitals be built within 10 years?” Bloom said. 

Bloom questioned where staff for these hospitals would come from considering the fact that a number of Gauteng hospitals battle with overcrowding. 

“Last year the Honorable Premier promised extra attention to the five worst-performing hospitals in the province, one of these was Tembisa. Ten babies at this hospital died within the last months of last year. These deaths could have been prevented with proper staffing,” Bloom added. 

EFF MPL, Itani Mukwevho, criticised Makhura for making 10-year plans with the full knowledge that he would have vacated his office by then. 

“You make empty promises Premier, in 2025 you know that you will not be governing Gauteng,” he said. 

Furthermore, Mukwevho questioned why Makhura’s administration is promising to build new cities when many informal settlements in the province are still without water and electricity. 

“We cannot build new cities. We need to first upgrade informal settlements to be decent living conditions or else the province with a fast-growing population will explode,” he said. 

Expectedly, ANC MPLs praised the premier’s plan. 

“It is important to note that the Growing Gauteng Together 2020 is a pragmatic plan that overall compliments the National Development plan,” ANC MPL Ezra Letsoalo said. 

Letsoalo further added that this plan was welcomed by all its members as one that can transform and grow the province’s economy. 

ANC MPL Fasiha Hassan opened her address by reminding members that they have a mammoth task at hand. 

“I stand here today with what many may think is a simple responsibility to debate the 2020 SOPA, indeed for those who are not on the hot seat of governing it is a simple job. But for those of us who carry the mandate of the people of Gauteng to lead them to a better future, it is a mammoth task,” she said. 

Hassan said the plan should be used to address the marginalisation of vulnerable groups such as youth, children, women, people living with disabilities and the LBTQIA+ community. DM

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