Gauteng Premier David Makhura believes he is on the right track in his effort to restoring the confidence of the Gauteng people, two years after taking office.
Makhura was brought into office with a clear mandate from his party – the ANC – to win back people’s confidence, after it experienced a significant decline of over 10% during the 2014 national elections. Makhura’s hands-on approach in dealing with various challenges in communities around Gauteng and his dedication in eliminating corruption within the provincial administration, appears to be paying off.
The Municipal IQ Monitor, according to Makhura, has reported that service delivery protests in Gauteng, have decreased from 21% to 15% in the past 12 months – the most dramatic decline in the past decade.
“Through a proactive and participatory approach to problem-solving, we are restoring levels of trust and public confidence on the ground,” said Makhura during his state of the province address held in Sebokeng township on Monday.
With few months left before the local government elections, the ANC in Gauteng was working hard to retain all metros under its control.
Makhura was forced to halt his address for about 15 minutes when Economic Freedom Fighters MPLs interrupted him with chants of e-tolls must be scrapped.
Proceedings returned to normality soon after the six EFF MPLs left the area where Makhura was delivering his speech.
The ambitious Gauteng premier told the more than 500 people who attended the event that he was working hard to achieve a corruption free government. He said his provincial administration was implementing an integrity management framework to deter fraud and corruption.
“We have been taking decisive disciplinary action against people found guilty of financial misconduct,” said Makhura.
He said the open tender system introduced under his leadership was one of the most important innovations of the Gauteng provincial government.
Makhura said: “We are leading the country in ensuring that procurement decisions are taken above aboard. Our new approach has attracted considerable public attention and widespread review, including by the National Treasury and other provinces. We are now extending this transparent system of appointing service providers to all departments, especially those with big budgets. Through the open tender system and the promotion of integrity, we are creating an environment where clean governance will thrive. Gauteng will become a corruption-free province in our lifetime. It is important to ensure that public resources are directed to benefit all people. The state must never be captured by a few individuals or groups for their own selfish gain.”
He said he believed his government could use procurement policy to achieve genuine black economic empowerment in all sectors without bribery and corruption.
“We must get rid of the perception that any black person who gets a tender has bribed their way into the corridors of power. Let us empower black people – contractors and construction companies; law firms, accounting and audit firms; engineering and consulting firms; emerging farmers and manufacturers of food products; industrialists and entrepreneurs – unashamedly, transparently and ethically,” said Makhura.
Makhura said he was encouraged that nineteen of the departments and agencies, including the office of the premier, achieved clean audits in the 2014/15 financial year.
“Only one department and one agency got unsatisfactory audit outcomes. Although the department of health did not receive an unqualified audit, there is significant improvement in its finances and service delivery. I am very confident that this department will join the list of clean audits during our term of office. The leadership of the department has been placed on very strict performance terms to fix our public healthcare syste.”
He said his government took a decision to change the leadership of the G-Fleet [Gauteng’s fleet management company] after it repeatedly obtained negative audit outcomes – from adverse to a disclaimer in two consecutive years.
“Similar action will be taken where departments and agencies show serial poor performance. There shall be consequences for poor performance and unethical conduct,” said Makhura.
He said his administration was also cracking the whip on departments who were not paying service providers on time.
“Ten out of fourteen departments achieved 90% compliance with the payment of service providers within 30 days. The digitisation of invoicing has introduced new efficiencies in our governance system and is helping us to pay service providers on time. However, I remain deeply concerned that some of the departments with big budgets still pay less than 70% of their invoices within 30 days – education, health, human settlements and infrastructure development.”
Meanwhile, Makhura said he was planning to appoint a group of eminent persons who will work with various civil society initiatives to open honest and constructive conversations on how “we can build a society free from racism and xenophobia”.
“People of Gauteng, in honouring those who sacrificed for freedom and democracy and gave us a Constitution of which we are deeply proud, I hereby make a clarion call that we must unite against racism and xenophobia. Let us fight against racism wherever and whenever it manifests itself. Those who call black people baboons are as wrong as those who threaten to drive white students out of university campuses. There must be no room for racists in the South Africa of our dreams,” said Makhura.