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Opposition parties find ECape 2018 SOPA ‘dull, uninspiring and lacking heart’

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 23, 2018
Opposition parties find ECape 2018 SOPA ‘dull, uninspiring and lacking heart’

Eastern Cape Premier, Phumulo Masualle, on Friday delivered the much-awaited 2018 Eastern Cape State of the Province Address (SOPA) at the Provincial Legislature in Bisho. However, opposition parties were quick to express their disappointments.

Speaking for the Eastern Cape Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC), Ndiyakholwa Ngqulu, described the Eastern Cape State of the Province Address as “dull and uninspiring”.

Ngqulu added that the country and the province are faced with extra ordinary circumstances of poverty, unemployment, hunger and unemployment, while, “he (Premier Masualle) stated the usual measures, which have failed this province over these past 24 years”.

“Eastern Cape is lowest in the country in all the human development indexes, but nothing extraordinary came from the Premier,” he described.

Ngqulu found the 2018 SOPA a bit of a repetition of what has been said over the years.

“Masualle again dwelt on the issue of the drought, which was in the SOPA last year, but areas like Mnquma have been without water for more than a year now.

“He failed to address the fundamental causes of litigation against the Eastern Cape Dpartment of Health, which is facing dire staff and resource shortages. There was no report on readiness to implement the National Health Insurance (NHI) in the province. Nothing tangible on fighting corruption,” he added.

Ngqulu added that, as the PAC, they would have liked to hear progress about the Mzimvubu Dam project, which was brought in the public eye years ago – yet there have been no new updates on the progress of the project.

“Lastly, we expected the Premier to respond to other things from SONA like land expropriation without compensation, free higher education, but he has dismally failed to capture this despite it being raised by the ruling party,” Ngqula said.

The Leader of the DA in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Bobby Stevenson, said that the 2018 SOPA “lacked heart”, and as Masualle faces a possible redeployment from the African National Congress (ANC), “it was as if they were listening to a dead man walking”.

Stevenson also said that the national Budget Speech presented by Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, completely took the wind out of the Premier’s sails.

“There has been a reduction in the School Infrastructure Grant and the Human Settlements Grant. This means that in our province, where there are thousands of schools without running water or electricity, decent ablution facilities and mud-structure schools, learners are going to continue to suffer.

“With regards to the reduction in the Human Settlements Grant, this means that thousands and thousands of people, who have been eagerly waiting for shelter, are going to be denied this opportunity,” he said.

“The provincial equitable share is only scheduled to increase by about 5%. This means that we are going to go backwards as far as service delivery is concerned because the increase in benefits to civil servants will surely be more than that.”

He concluded by blaming the ANC for the economic mismanagement of the Eastern Cape.

“What we need in this province is not patch-fixing, but instead total change that will bring real freedom and opportunity to the people of the Eastern Cape.”