Ricochet News

Eastern Cape needs assistance to reduce poverty, unemployment, grow economy

Nov 13, 2019
Eastern Cape needs assistance to reduce poverty, unemployment, grow economy

East London - Eastern Cape Premier Lubabalo Oscar Mabuyane on Wednesday said that the province needs Official Development Assistance resources from development agencies representing developed countries to assist the province achieve targets of the Provincial Development Plan by funding infrastructure development to address backlogs, reduce high unemployment and poverty challenges that forces scorers of the people from the province to migrate to other provinces seeking green pastures.

“Our infrastructure landscape as I indicated earlier was neglected, thus the need to be modernised for it to be responsive to the needs of our people and investors.

"Official Development Assistance agencies should partner with us to improve socio-economic infrastructure such as water and sanitation, modern schools and health facilities as these will improve the quality of life of our people,” said Mabuyane. 

Speaking at the three day colloquium and policy retreat on Official Development Assistance porogram in East London, Mabuyane said the province, which was pro development assistance program needed Development Assistance to develop innovative solutions to turn the provincial economy around through support for small businesses that are operating in the niche sectors such as tourism, construction, ocean economy, manufacturing, energy, and knowledge economy.

“I want to indicate upfront that as a Province we are pro-Development Assistance. We believe Western Nations should assist to re-build our continent. We are in this mess of underdevelopment because of their colonial deeds. Poverty levels in our province are still relatively high with many of our communities still without essential services such as clean drinking water and proper sanitation.

"Inequality persists particularly in the standard of living of our citizens and even more so in economic opportunities with the majority of blacks still in the periphery of economic participation,” said Mabuyane. 

He said the province’s agriculture potential has not been fully realised despite the availability of arable land across the province. 

“We want to be the food basket on the nation and through the support of Official Development Assistance agencies we can turn community based small scale farmers into sustainable producers of food for households and markets. 

"We will focus on affirming farmers who are participating in the red meat, milk, poultry, fruit and vegetables, wine, wheat, forestry, aquaculture, small-scale fisheries, biofuels and cannabis production,” said Mabuyane. 

'Eastern Cape really in need of the Officla Development Assistance'

The Premier said that prior to 1994 Development Assistance agencies successfully helped rebuild countries that were in strife in the continent working with those countries to rebuild infrastructure, provide healthcare, education, knowledge, food and social cohesion post conflict.

“We are really in need of the Officla Development Assistance to help us take our country to another level. However that Developmental Assistance should be morally sound and should only be based on the need to uplift the socio-economic standards of our people and nothing else. It shouldn’t be used as another form of colonial management of our affairs," said Mabuyane.

"I am making this point on purpose because Development Assistance in many parts of the African Continent tends to cause more problems than solving problems. It tends to be used immorally to achieve political reasons, thus at times as leaders we look at it with suspicion.

"We cannot be blamed for our apprehensions on Development Assistance because it is sometimes used for selfish political reasons by those who have the means."

Concern at abuse of Official Development Assistance

Mabuyane said US President, Donal Trump’s decision to hold military aid to Ukraine until they investigate former Vice President, Joe Biden and his son, his political opponent, was a clear example of immoral use of ODA by developed countries, saying countries should not accept such bribery. 

He said he was concerned by the net drop of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) funds to developing countries, like South Africa, saying this was not helping countries to fast rack development. 

“For instance, in 2016 we received an amount US $1.181 million net Official Development Assistance, a decrease of 17% compared to a 32% increase in the previous year. In 2017, our Official Development Assistance dropped by 14 percentage points to US$1.014 million," the Premier said.

"Likewise, a net Official Development Assistance as the percentage of the Gross National Income (GNI) dropped to 0.4% in 2016 from 0.5% in 2015. These are glaring differences and your task (delegates to the colloquium) is to tell us why this is the case. Has it been caused by political or policy uncertainty? Has it been caused by negative global economic outlook or the new phenomenon of nationalism that is being advanced by some western countries?

"As ODA recipient countries we must have a response to this reality of decreasing assistance and find ways of managing better the little aid that is available to make an impact on the lives of ordinary citizens."

Mabuyane said government must provide leadership to address governance challenges because the province will not attract investments and official development assistance if corruption and malpractice continued in the public sector, saying this will affect the development of the province. 

“One way of doing this is by strengthening coordination within government and other established institutions to optimise aid allocation. It is our belief that recipient countries must have a bigger say on where and how development assistance should be used as they are better informed about challenges on the ground than donor countries.

"We also propose a move away from project aid to programme aid as the latter is more sustainable than the former, thus it will yield better value for money for both the recipient country and donor countries,” he added.

"But more importantly we feel strongly that Development Assistance should adopt the same District Development Model that has been adopted by our country recently to have greater impact on the lives of our people. We envisage a situation where the work of Development Assistance agencies would be reflected transparently in Provincial Plans and in IDPs of our Municipalities.

"We can’t just hear that municipality A has donor funders without knowing what who and what informed that decision."

Call for a mechanism to stop plundering of development assistance funds

Mabuyane used his speech at the Colloquium to call for a mechanism to stop plundering of development assistance funds by individuals pursuing corrupt personal interests. 

“We are also proposing in this colloquium the need to fight corruption as some government officials and leaders, use their positions and authority to increase their personal wealth at the expense of the citizens. It is no secret that most leaders and officials amass huge sums of personal wealth for themselves from the foreign aid received – and none of that aid reaches the intended communities.

"Strengthened coordination will therefore increase accountability and transparency. Monitoring and Evaluation of projects and programmes is also critical for lessons learnt, to plan future projects better and more efficiently to achieve maximum impact,” said Mabuyane.

National Treasury working with Official Development Assistance agencies

National Treasury official, Robin Toll, said his department was working with Official Development Assistance agencies operating in South Africa to fund a number of development projects like the provision of water, economic development, HIV and AIDS programs and LGBTIQ programs in the country. 

“The money raised through the ODA is channeled through the RDP fund within the National Treasury and processed to provincial government departments and municipalities to implement programs specific to the funding.

"But we also want to know which other organizations are funded by the ODA partners and what is the purpose of the funding made to those organizations, what is the money being used on within the borders of our country,” said Toll. 

Toll said National Treasury aligns the allocation of ODA funds to the budget priorities of government departments and municipalities because ODA funds are used to provide value to the country through the projects implemented and funded by these funds. 

“The core principles of managing ODA funds in South Africa is that ODA must support development plans of government, projects be located within and owned by government departments, recipients must use government system (procurement, and financial management and reporting, government and donors must Harmonised their actions (by sharing information, agree on complementarity snuff asvopid duplication), reporting and information on all projects must be shared openly and transparently,” he added. 

Toll said South Africa uses development cooperation funds through the ODA to endsure that they bring value addition through financing innovation, piloting, capacity development, risk mitigation, support catalytic initiatives.

He said China, Brazil, India, Turkey, United Arab Emirates were some of the new players in the Official Development Assitance program landscape, saying government needed to engage the private sector to pump money into the development programs. 

'USAID recognises South Africa as a stable democracy'

USAID Deputy Mission Director, Natasha de Marcken, said her agency recognised South Africa’s strengths such as a strong and stable democracy, strong economy and they work with the South African government through bilateral relations to help achieve the development goals set out in the National Development Plan. 

“We see the leadership role of South Africa in the region and in the continent as an enabler to help us in the implementation of programs in the region and in the continent.

"Our portfolio encompassses 110 active contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants totaling $4 billion, South Africans bilateral 2018 budget is $343 billion and this includes $285 million for HIV/AIDS program (PEPFAR|), our regional budget is $150 million, this includes $151 million for HIV/AIDS programming in Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana,” said de Marcken. 

Marcken said one of their programs is to bring US investors to South Africa with Chicago teacher’s pension fund was looking at investing about $200 million into the South African economy with a plan to bring US securities funds managers and pension fund managers to explore investment opportunities unique to South Africa that are not offered by the US economy. 

She added that her agency has regional environmental and energy programs such as power Africa with a goal top generate electricity for 60 million people in the continent.  

“We also have regional economic growth programs, these include increasing international competitiveness, intra-regional trade and investment, improving agricultural productivity and flood security, leveraging South Africa’s technology, management best practices and investment capital to achieve developmental objectives throughout the region,” said de Marcken. 

Follow more RNEWS articles, subscribe to our YouTube channel and for breaking news LIKE us on Facebook. For news on the Western Cape click here.

For great savings on life’s little pleasures visit Bargain Buys!  Know somebody who is getting married, Wedding and Function can assist.  Have kids, then you need to visit Kids Connection. Enjoy food and travel, then visit Home Food and Travel. Need assistance with an online presence, visit Agency One.