OPENING REMARKS BY HONOURABLE PREMIER R.M. MTSHWENI ON THE OCCASION OF THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL LEKGOTLA (SKUKUZA REST CAMP, MPUMALANGA)
14 February 2019Honourable Members of the Executive Council Honourable Executive Mayors;
Esteemed Chairperson of the Mpumalanga House of Traditional Leaders, Inkosi SG Ngomane;
Senior Government Officials from all spheres of Government, led by the Acting Director General, Mr Mathew Mohlasedi;
Chairpersons and CEOs of State Owned Entities
Invited guests from SALGA and Other related Organisations
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Colleagues, it is indeed a pleasure to welcome you to this Cabinet Lekgotla. It is with a lot of introspection that I note that this is the last Cabinet Lekgotla of the 5th democratically elected Administration.
It is with bittersweet reflection that I look at the achievements of this Administration over the last five years whilst acutely aware of the great task we have ahead of us in our pursuit to improve the quality of life for the people of Mpumalanga.
- Indeed, as we enter the proverbial last lap of this Administration, it is imperative that we all utilise this platform to fully reflect on whether our achievements have been aligned with the 2014-2019 Medium Term
Furthermore, it is equally imperative that we ensure that we hand the proverbial baton to the incoming 6th democratically elected Administration in a manner that ensures relative ease in the implementation of strategic deliverables.
- In order to do this, we must ensure that this Lekgotla is reflective of the achievements and the failures of this Administration.
Where we have failed, we need to fully troubleshoot and determine the causal factors so that we may ensure that similar oversights are not repeated.
- With the scarce financial resources at our disposal, effective financial management is a non-negotiable element of efficient Departmental management.
To this effect, Provincial Treasury shall deliver a holistic presentation which shall serve as a comprehensive analysis of Provincial Financial Management in the MTSF 2014-19 period as well as a progress report on expenditure patterns in the current financial year.
We anticipate a decrease in fiscal dumping as we approach the end of the 2018/19 Financial Year.
- Whilst great strides have been made in ensuring the creation of more schools, it is now a National priority to ensure that all schools have adequate sanitation that do not pose a danger to our children.
To this effect, we will be expecting that, in their presentation, the Department of Education and Provincial Treasury provide an update on the eradication of pit latrines across the Province.
- In his State of the Nation address last week, the President of the Republic highlighted the higher level of importance that shall be placed on Early Childhood Development Centres.
- The President also outlined how the function will gradually migrate from the Department of Social Development to the Department of Basic Education with the introduction of an additional two compulsory years to the foundation phase of learning in order to aid the cognitive development of our children.
- It is encouraging to note that the Mpumalanga Department of Education has already made overtures towards attaining this deliverable as part of the Mpumalanga vision 2030 target.
The Department of Education must outline the measure that they will put in place to ensure that we improve on the current 37% of children in ECDs. There must be a collaborative effort between the Department of Social Development and the Department of Education resulting in the development of a process plan towards convergence of more ECD centres to the operational ambit of the Department of Education.
- Whilst we applaud the encouraging 79% pass rate for Mpumalanga Province in the 2018 matric examinations, we must endeavour to improve on this statistic.
What is worrying , however, is the number of students who drop out of our education system before they matriculate.This is attributable to a number of socio-economic dynamics that are prevalent in our Province. The Department of Education must use this forum to appraise us on the development of a tracking tool to identify these learners.
This must be followed by the development of cogent remedial action that shall be undertaken to arrest the high number of scholar drop outs.
- The lack of progress in addressing the Government Nutrition Programme (GNP) is also a cause for concern. The problems outlined in the last Lekgotla pointed to, among others, a worrying lack of strategic
coordination by the lead Department and the Provincial agencies.
The task team comprising of the Department of Education, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Development, the Department of Economic Development as well as MEGA must provide a detailed progress report on the status of the GNP.
- As outlined in the previous Lekgotla, it is imperative for sector Departments such as the Department of Economic Development and Tourism as well as agencies such as MEGA to operate in a complementary manner in order for government to spearhead economic growth in the Province and strategically position the Province as an investment destination of choice.
- In order to position the Province as an investment destination, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism must appraise us on the process plan to operationalise the Nkomazi Special Economic Zone following the official designation of the SEZ by National Cabinet in December 2018.
- Our approach towards positioning the Province as a destination for investment must not place the Province in an onerous financial position.
Our priorities must be the stimulation of economic growth and the creation of sustainable job opportunities. I trust that the report we shall receive on the negotiations that are ensuing with the business rescue practioners of Evraz Highveld Steel for the repurposing of Highveld steel assets for purposes of creating industrial parks are underpinned by the priorities that I have outlined and that MEGA will not place the Province in a financially arduous position similar to the one we find ourselves in vis-à-vis the Nkomati anthracite mining investment.
- The general lack of progress with regards to the operationalisation of the International Fresh Produce Market is a cause for concern. It is imperative to reflect on Government’s investment thus far and determine
a realistic time frame wherein a return on investment can be realised.
Furthermore, a comprehensive plan on the incorporation SMMEs as suppliers must be developed for endorsement by Cabinet.
- In an effort to proactively manage financial management challenges within Municipalities, the Provincial Government has incorporated discretionary intervention in the following Municipalities;
- A task team led by Provincial Treasury has been dispatched to these Municipalities with the aim of addressing serious financial management discrepancies and establishing practical financial recovery plans. A progress report to this effect shall be presented by Provincial Treasury.
- In light of the severe operational strain faced by ESKOM as evidenced by the rolling power outages across the country and proof that this is attributable to , amongst others, operational deficiencies exacerbated by the failure by Municipalities to honour their Eskom debts, Provincial Treasury and COGTA must oversee the process of engagements with ESKOM in order to determine feasible repayment plans with manageable interest accruing to historic debts.
- Whilst addressing historical debt, Municipalities must also ensure that their current accounts are effectively managed as well. This will require fiscal prudence that COGTA and Provincial Treasury must oversee.
- This is but a mere overview of where we are, as a Province. Discussions that ensue in this forum must be concomitant with the Provincial priorities I have outlined. Let us have frank and robust engagements with practical solutions.
- I thank you
Economic growth and creation of employment
Issued by Zibonele Mncwango
Spokesperson: Mpumalanga Premier
Mpumalanga Provincial Government
Office of the Premier
Tel: (013) 766 2453
Mobile: 082 616 6698