Is the DA really governing better? The Real State of the Province
- Yonela Diko
- 16 Feb 2017 12:13 (South Africa)
Last year, Helen Zille, Premier of the Western Cape, opened her State of the Province Address (SOPA) by self congratulating herself on her very delayed discovery of the popular American political scientist, Francis Fukuyama. Unfortunately, by the time Zille discovered Fukuyama’s popular work, End of History, published in 1992, the history had actually not ended, it had come back with a vengeance.
After the 2008 economic crash, nation states who had pulled back from the economy, duped into believing the markets would fairly allocate resources had learned a hard lesson. While governments had been sleeping at the wheel, the markets had allocated half the population only 2.5% of the country’s wealth. The top 1% took 35% of it. The wealthiest 40 people in America owned more money than 40% of the population.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), unaware of the changes in world economics after the crash, in economics classrooms and business schools, had brought the corrosive world inequality into the Western Cape for a straight six years, entrenched with each budget allocation and each provincial government plan. This is shocking because the discredited economic thinking, of neo-liberals like Alan Greenspan and even Bill Clinton’s third way had come crashing down a year before the DA took over the Western Cape Government in 2009. Why would they continue with this economic thinking?
David A McDonald concluded in 2009, four years after the DA took over the City of Cape Town, in his research World City Syndrome that Cape Town had become the most unequal city in the world, due in part to this “world city syndrome” that deepens these inequalities and plagues its urban planning. McDonald painted a theoretically path-breaking, if politically heartbreaking account of post-partheid Cape Town and the betrayed promises of integration and equality.
To ignore a re-emerging economic thinking, that realised the importance of government actually getting into the economy and changing the rules of the game and shifting its gains towards the majority, one would have to make a conclusion that the DA Provincial Government is running a mafia ring, hell--bent on benefiting a few and legitimising criminality using the state.
This would explain why, given so many companies in South Africa, the DA provincial government went as far as contracting Filcon Projects, a company owned by a man who had been banned from holding any directorship in London until 2024.
Twenty-three years later, Cape Town is still “a paradise for the few”. The South African World Design City 2014 has its residents of Khayelitsha Township living in cramped, unhygienic conditions.
The need for long-promised urban reform has become a pipe dream. Here in Khayelitsha when it rains, the public toilets overflow into people’s living rooms. Water comes in through the ceiling and the electricity stops working.
Originally, Cape Town was conceived as a white-only centre, surrounded by contained settlements for the black and coloured labour forces to the east, each hemmed in by highways and rail lines, rivers and valleys, and separated from the affluent white suburbs by protective buffer zones of scrubland. This picture is still exactly the same and our people are correct to say “they have forgotten us”.
Over the last six years, every idea the Western Cape government has conjured, according to all its departments’ budget votes is awkwardly called a “game changer”, but the game never really changes.
The First glaring mistake of the DA in the department of Human Settlement was to deploy Bonginkosi Madikizela as its Member of Executive Council (MEC), a black man who believes he built the cabin he was born in. Bonginkosi Madikizela, opened his 2016/17 budget vote by saying: “Speaker, I was raised by my poor parents who made sure that they built a home for us and did not depend on government. I believe that government should not build houses for people.” So here was a Member of the Executive Council tasked by government to build houses for our people telling the nation he actually does not believe in the portfolio he has been given.
It is not only a contradiction in terms and tasks, it is a cruel case of someone who has taken advantage of all the subsidised life that the ANC government has given our people for 23 years but now resolutely denies it for others as he sits at his MEC exclusive enclave. This explains why year on year, the DA has built far fewer houses so that even shutting down this department would not make a difference.
In the 2016/2017 budget vote Madikizela reiterated a recurring promise that his department’s strategic goal is focusing on the upgrading of informal settlements. Despite this being very undefined and loose, there is not a single evidence that any Cape Town informal settlement has been upgraded.
If there is a department in the Western Cape, that is a ticking time-bomb (a la Esidimeni) on its complete dependency on NGOs to do the work of government, in particular the Provincial Informal Settlement Support Plan, it is the Provincial Department of Human Settlement.
The DA has failed to provide adequate numbers of social workers in the most needy parts of the Province and city. There is no practical measure in place to ensure a greater spread of available social welfare services to the citizens of the Western Cape. Incidences of financial misconduct and maladministration in the department and outstanding FIU cases have not been dealt with effectively and timeously.
The services at the residential facilities (Child and Youth Care Centres and substance abuse treatment centres) are sub-par and this is to the detriment of the vulnerable, who depend on such facilities for survival.
Again the DA Western Cape is so excessively dependent on NGOs to render social services on behalf of the department, it makes Esidimeni a child's play. NGOs are supposed to complement government and not become the work of government.
The much talked about Youth development strategy has never really taken off and whatever its projected impact on Youth Programmes, that has been lost completely. The promised roll-out the Youth Cafes to Atlantis, George and Nyanga Junction has proven to be a pipe dream. As a result, there has been a growing heroin use in the Western Cape. Availing the so-called Opiate Substitution Treatments to drug users is extremely ineffective because the root cause of the problem is not dealt with. This leads to the rise in gang violence without any clear strategy.
The first thing you will hear from the DA Provincial Government is that the National Government's restrictive regulations are making the mandate of job creation impossible. When you ask, specifically which one of these regulations, the answer becomes an infinite regress.
When you ask the DA what the demographic spread of their created jobs is over the year, those details are not forthcoming, deliberately of course because these opportunities are skewed. The source of foreign investment is also hidden, because it’s a political act that seeks to present a province that is capable of attracting investments, albeit it’s just investment by friends.
But we must ask the DA is what is the condition of Project Khulisa, their Game Changer project that was to deliver jobs (Project Khulisa job projection was to move from 204 000 to 324 000)?
When you ask the DA what the criteria is for choosing 44 business beneficiaries of their Cape Capital Fund in agri-processing, the answers are not forthcoming. Because the process of choosing such beneficiaries is not transparent or AA compliant. How Many local suppliers and jobs has the DA developed to provide services such as rig repair the Saldanha Industrial Development Zone? The answers are also not forthcoming.
The Promised roll-out to residents of Wi-Fi hotspots in order to fulfil the goal of connecting all residents to the net has again proven to be a pipe dream. The promised eskills project through which residents were to learn to use the internet effectively is yet another false promise.
The biggest failure of this department is on its promised alternative energy supply to ensure sustainable water supply. The province has run out of water.
Transport and Public Works
The Western Cape Government starts a lot of initiatives which die a slow dearth because of lack of follow-through. The promised Live, Work, Play pilot development started on the previous Conradie Hospital site is now a distant memory.
There are a lot of projects, such as the R487-million project to upgrade the N1 over 9km from Plattekloof Road to just beyond the Old Oak interchange, the R186-million rehabilitation of a 7km portion of the N2 between Borcherds Quarry Road and the R300, the construction of street lighting from Bosmansdam Road to the Potsdam Interchange on the N7, projects which would make so much difference to previously disadvantaged communities but there is little contracting to previously disadvantaged-owned companies and BEE companies.
The MEC has made suggestions before of re-introduction a legally watertight and credible random breath testing system, approached Cabinet with an amendment to road traffic act to enable him to make regulations regarding the impounding of vehicles, all cheap talk just to fill MEC budget vote with little intention of fulfilment.
We must just state it clearly that the of the Western Cape Government’s goal for “every person to be and feel safe” has failed dismally.
The department is constantly heard in public spaces chastising National Government for the performance of police, without ever mentioning their own role of oversight. The DA does not fully understand its own role when it comes to policing and community safety.
Then there is the duplication of duties. The Department of Health is already dealing with the issue of alcohol abuse and lifestyle change. It is therefore puzzling that Community Safety department is making alcohol abuse a primary priority and using alcohol to justify lack of clear strategy to keep our communities safe.
And yet, another one of the DA promises of rolling out the Alcohol Harms Reduction (AHR) Game Changer in PSG 3 in Khayelitsha (Lingelethu-West), Gugulethu and Nyanga (Ward 39) and Drakenstein, Paarl East (Smartie Town and Fairyland), remains just a promise. We are as yet to be told of the success rate of the Nyanga Yethu programme, also introduced with much fanfare.
There is also the promised roll-out of the safety kiosks in 2016/17 financial year in areas like Nyanga, Khayelitsha and SANParks which remains but a dream.
The department suggested an increase in the reporting periods of crime statistics and we have not been told whether this has had any direct impact on crime reduction because Nyanga is still the crime capital and places like Delft, Gugulethu and Harare still top the murder hot spot list.
Western Cape Pupils achieved a pass rate of 86% in the 2016 Matric results, a slight increase from 84.7% in 2015. This follows a general trend, with 82.8% in 2012, 85.1% In 2013, 82.2% in 2014, which reflects an education strategy that is marooned and stuck, incapable of reaching its provincial targets and the full potential of its learners.
Firstly the Western Cape has a significant number of high-schools with over 100 years of cultural capital, the established support structures in those high-schools, a department led by those who share in that cultural capital, the many tests conducted by the department in an ad hoc fashion throughout the year, and the share of the provincial budget. All these point to Matric results that should always be on a significant increasing trajectory.
The answer to such stagnation is simple. As any basic economics will tell you, there can be no significant improvements if your focus of improvements is on already developed areas. A school that achieved 95% pass rate a year before, irrespective of how many resources and support structures provided, has only 5% of improvement to be expected, nothing more. If however you shift resources to schools that have been achieving 60% to 70%, any concentration of resources and support to those schools has a potential of 30-40% improvements. Its that simple.
The community understands this, which is why, in Grabouw, led by the ANC, the community took responsibility for a school, Umyezo High School, which had been plagued by numerous problems, internal and external, at some point being closed; a non-responsive provincial government to all requests for intervention, with petitions to national government for intervention and ultimately a school that today boasts an 83% pass rate, from last year's 53%, a whopping 30% leap.
The people in the townships also expect provincial government to underwrite the success of provincial schools. When all the 57 bottom-performing schools are in the townships, the people have a reason to protest and picket because they know what a little attention can do to the improvement of education results. Schools like Langa high school, 33.4% pass, Masiphumelele High School, 48.9%, a farm school Murraysburg High School, 44.4%, and many others, all achieving more or less the same results in the previous years, exposes this inability of the provincial government to have a strategy that can shift results.
The DA's provincial government must be honest that it is schools like McGregor Waldorf School with seven students in their Matric class, seven students who pass and therefore 100% pass rate that constitute their 86% average, not the neglected schools like Langa High School, with 137 students who wrote exams with a 33.4% outcome. It is this level of honesty that will ensure that we make the leap forward we need in percentages.
The provincial department has never had a concrete plan for under-performing schools. Here are the areas that the provincial department has failed significantly in and should not be expecting improved results as long as they persist:
1 Their E-learning and after school care, with R273,9-million allocated in the 2015/2016 budget has had no penetration in the disadvantaged schools. There is therefore no “after school” culture of learning.
2 The promised Infrastructure Development roll-out has reached a bottleneck.
3 The provincial department has been weak in breaking the historical challenge of schools categorised according to race.
4 The programme for learners to be screened and treated for health ailments is slow and far-between.
5 Then there are learners who go to school in fear for their lives because of poor security in their schools.
How can the department then expect improvements in Matric results when they are not willing to invest in such outcomes?
The problems of the Provincial Health Department are huge and they are many and the department has just not been able to measure up. Whether it the level of vacancies in the provinces medical institutions, Hospitals operating without piped water or proper sanitation, Hospitals and clinics not meeting the proposed National Norms and Standards Bill, lack of proper accountability system of heads of institution with the department, safety – the list is endless.
More important however, for us is the key needs of all individual patients who walk into our institutions of health; do we have enough Anti-Retro-Virals and how many patients are now on Anti-Retro Virals; is the percentage of Mother to Child Transmission rate decreasing, what is the provincial TB Cure rate?; what is the provincial male condom distribution coverage, these are the questions the department is unable to answer.
The department has also been very poor at continuously upgrading its own infrastructure and this is important because we want to move away from outsourcing service facilities for our patients. The department is already co-running many programmes with private partners and the rate of success is lack lustre at best. Again, it is a matter of time before another Esidimeni erupts in the Western Cape.
Less measurable but no less profound is the miserable record of the DA on social cohesion. Helen Zille’s response to the Bungalow Restaurant racist experience of two black South Africans who were classified according to race at a restaurant, emphasised the point that under her leadership, the DA has been unashamedly the biggest aiders of racism in the Western Cape. The DA, under her leadership, has failed to treat racism as something much deeper and more powerful, more threatening and more persistent, which requires greater vigour and determination.
Her leadership has inevitably resulted in certain parts of Western Cape feeling like a version of Orania, (meant) for white exclusivity over and against interests of a unified South Africa.
Her response has been two-fold. First she has always tried to deny that black people experience racism in the Western Cape and when that seems too desperate, she has then tried to explain that a particular incident is in fact not racist.
Racism under Helen Zille has been much deeper. It has been responsible for who is actually getting opportunities; who is getting contracts; who is getting sub-contracts; who is getting employed. Racism in the Western Cape has been responsible for who gets hired, who gets fired, who rises, who falls, and such attitudes have livelihoods consequences.
As a result, under her watch, intolerance has risen, with racial incidences at Mosques, in the beaches, affluent neighbourhoods, every other day there is a racial incident, cruel, callous, and indifferent, like the attitude of the DA.
In the end, we must admit that the future of this province, in the hands of the DA, will look exactly like the present. DM
Yonela Diko is the ANC Western Cape Spokesperson