Opinionista Mmusi Maimane 26 February 2014

Nomvula and I: The difference

I put up our campaign’s first Gauteng Election poster outside the legislature before the State of the Province address this week for a reason. The reason is that for the first time in our democracy we can choose change in the country’s economic heartland. The polls show it and I know it from the work we put in every day.

Watching Nomvula Mokonyane deliver her speech, I felt that she and I agreed on some key things. Education is one. And I thought that the announcement of the success of school feeding programmes was a key moment in the speech.

Quality education should be everyone’s struggle and while success on that front is not what it should be, the drive to make it easier for kids to at least attend school is an admirable one.

Gauteng is a better place to live in today than in 1994. I definitely support that. We’ve come a long way since Apartheid, and that’s why South Africa is such a beautiful nation.

Does the Gauteng government have a good story to tell? Compared to governance collapses like Limpopo and the Eastern Cape – the answer is ‘absolutely’.

Do they have the best story to tell? Well, no, because even the Presidency’s own reports put DA governance ahead on key factors like service delivery and clean administration.

Multi-billion rand budgets on Gauteng can and must deliver more than what we are getting at the moment. As a start we are losing R6 billion a year to corruption in Gauteng.

Most of all, though, I feel we need a bigger vision on creating jobs and ensuring clean government. When I shared that thought after the speech, some media chose to dilute it to the headline “Maimane slams SOPA”.

I don’t just slam things for the sake of it, and I wouldn’t be running for Premier if I didn’t believe in better policies than the ones we are being offered at the moment.

So I wanted to outline here four key differences between Nomvula and myself, even though this was probably her last State of the Province address.

Entrepreneurs must lead Gauteng

Public Works job opportunities and a smallish internship programme will never be enough in Gauteng. Unemployment is at 35% and young people are losing hope. That’s why we have a nyaope epidemic in Gauteng.

I come from Dobsonville, Soweto. I know that in our hearts we are a people full of innovation, hungry for opportunity. But far more support is needed for us to make that potential a reality.

Graduates must benefit not just from a far bigger internship programme, but also targeted recruitment into government so that we can professionalise the civil service.

We would roll out big support for entrepreneurs through credit, subsidies and equipment for their businesses. We are also committed to building an Academy for Entrepreneurs (see here).

Yes, Public Works can reduce unemployment, but our plans would expand not just the number of jobs created, but also the skills transfer and long-term benefits as well.

Where we govern, we built two world-class hospitals in township communities, employed local people and trained them for future employment. Public Works opportunities need to be more than rubbish collection and grass cutting, and we’ve shown it can work where we govern.

Cut corruption out of government

I have four ways to cut corruption out of government. I didn’t hear one from Nomvula. Open tender committees to the public so that decisions are transparent. That’s the first non-negotiable.

Then, officials can’t do business with government. We’ll make that law in Gauteng as the second step.

Third, politicians can’t serve in office with corruption convictions. That’s my pledge. And fourth, we will scrap the Ministerial Handbook and introduce a new one to curb abuse and spending on luxuries.

Fight e-tolls

Nomvula repeated her support for e-tolls. She also announced further major upgrades for roads without telling the public that even more gantries are on the way in Phase 2 of e-tolling.

I oppose e-tolling. We’re fighting it in the courts next week in fact.

And if elected Premier I would call a referendum so that people could say “yes or no” to e-tolling. Then we’ll take the fight and might of the people of the great province of Gauteng right to the door of national government. There are better ways to upgrade roads than e-tolling and we’ll make sure they listen.

Urban land reform is a priority

Premier Mokonyane spoke about land reform like we don’t live in a province that is over 90% urban. A small number of successful projects on our countryside borders is not enough.

People want title deeds for their state-subsidised houses. Title deeds allow people to get loans, to be capitalised to build even more assets and worth for their families.

In government our mantra would be “Title deeds for All” and we would roll title deeds out at never-before-seen rates to Gauteng residents. People must own the land they live on, otherwise we will never deal with Apartheid’s sin of depriving black South Africans of property.

Those are some of the key differences between Nomvula and me. And you will see many more later this month when we launch more progressive policies for Gauteng.

If you have registered to vote and believe in change, we have a date on Election Day.

Something was different about this year’s State of the Province. This time change is possible at the ballot box and we can bring it. DM

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