Deputy Chairperson, Cde Mlungisi Mvoko
National Executive Committee Members
Members of the PEC
Leadership of the Alliance
Leadership of our Leagues and MDM formations
Comrades deployed to government and other strategic areas
All invited guests
Good morning comrades and please receive our revolutionary greetings as we begin with our two-day ANC Provincial Executive Committee Lekgotla. We wish to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to you for taking time to honor our invitation to be part our Lekgotla and enrich our deliberations.
As we start our Lekgotla, let me once more take this opportunity to pay homage to the late sports icon, ANC veteran and struggle stalwart, Cde Harold Wilson, whom we laid to rest yesterday at the Special Provincial Funeral in Gqeberha. Cde Wilson contributed immensely to the South African liberation struggle and will forever be remembered for the role he played in the struggle to transform rugby in the country. We once again express our heartfelt condolences to the family, the sporting fraternity, and the people of the province.
On the same note, as the comrades left to carry on from the work of Cde Wilson and many legends of this beautiful province, we must really hang our heads in shame when the province of legends is littered with reports of very young learners that were left unattended and stranded by adult teachers who were under their care during a school tour. It is more disheartening to learn of the reasons why this happened which demonstrates how those that are responsible for nurturing the future of this province and country can be so negligent and reckless. Unabating binge drinking with underage persons being exposed to boundless access to liquor is very much concerning, its another pandemic that needs community mobilization. As President Nelson Mandela stated: “any society that does not care for its children is no nation at all.”
We are equally dismayed at the report of the 15-year-old who escaped a hostage and gang-rape scene only to lose her life at a police station after allegedly being turned away in a clinic in Gqeberha. Here too, we will ensure that the probe we have called for takes place urgently so that the perpetrators of the violence this young girl experienced and those whose acts led to her untimely departure are brought to book.
Comrades, our Lekgotla is convened mainly to direct government on the priorities of the next financial year which is why it is convened ahead of its planning process. We are here to mandate government with a clear set of interventions and resolutions it must implement to ensure that we build on the work that has already been done in resolving the challenges faced by our province.
As we do that, we must also resolve on what the ANC must do to ensure that these interventions and resolutions are implemented. In previous Makgotla we agreed that the organization would be failing if it were to wait and only assess the implementation of its resolutions at the tail end of their lifespan. Therefore, when you set timeframes for implementation, the organization must develop its regular tracking mechanisms to monitor the implementation such that we are able to detect bottlenecks on time enough to intervene.
For us to do this work, we will need to assess the implementation of the previous resolutions which is why we requested reports that will serve as a resource to the commissions and should be used as the basis for taking resolutions. We must not rehash what we have resolved on but instead agree on what must be done differently if our assessment demonstrates that we are not making progress in that area.
As such, this Lekgotla will also serve as a platform to make policy recommendations that will be taken forward to the 55th National Conference particularly for those that relate to national legislation. With all these years in government we cannot continue to raise policy constraints as why we are unable to implement our progressive resolutions and yet year in year out, we don’t introduce news policies or repeal those that prevent the implementation of our decisions, especially here in the province.
We therefore invite you to make full productive use of this Lekgotla such that its outcomes have a meaningful impact in the lives of the people of our province. We must know that this exercise will be meaningless if next year this time around our people’s living conditions have not materially changed for the better because of the decisions and resolutions we took in this Lekgotla.
This Lekgotla must direct government on the interventions it must make to build on the work of growing and transforming the economy to serve the people. The implementation of decision we took in previous Makgotla has resulted in the progress we are making in having more people employed than they were before and many businesses supported particularly those owned by the youth, women, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.
A few weeks ago, we welcomed the unemployment decline in the Eastern Cape by 1.2% to 42.8% in 2022 Quarter 2. It is further pleasing that this decline is developing into a downward trend in consistently denting the unemployment rate in the province from an assessment of the last three quarters. This is not by chance but from the collective outcome of the efforts and initiatives of the ANC-led government in this province. Our policy direction, interventions and programmes are now bearing the much-desired fruits in the form of employment for the people of this province.
We must however broaden job creation to other regions in the province as the decline in unemployment in the last quarter was mainly in the Dr. WB Rubusana and Nelson Mandela regions 6.4 percentage points to 27.3% and 1.7 percentage points to 34.7% respectively.
It is however true that these percentages of unemployed persons in the province are still unacceptably high. Which is why we must increase the investments we are making in our productive sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining, and the oceans economy.
We have always maintained that there needs to be increased public sector investment in the economy of our province through several initiatives including the investment of our capital assets in infrastructure development and other productive areas and the use of public funds to invest in our provincial economy by buying locally produced products in our public facilities and in government events. The number of jobs that can be created simply by using the money we use to buy established products produced outside the province are quite significant because buying locally produced goods creates more demand for supply.
We are engaging the tourism sector, especially the hospitality industry to use locally produced goods in their hotel facilities. We will engage other industries as well to follow suit, but we can’t do this effectively if our own offices, hospitals, schools, service sites and municipalities are procuring goods not produced in the province.
Deputy Chairperson, our consistent decline in unemployment will be undermined by the energy crisis facing our country. We thus welcome the appointment of the new Eskom board and the commitment by President Ramaphosa to end the crisis of loadshedding.
We are also having our own plans and efforts to help ease the strain on the national grid and ensure energy security in the province. These include the progress we are making in the Liquid Natural Gas infrastructure project at Coega and the institutional support processes for new forms of energy generation, which includes Risk Mitigation Power Projects, new wind and solar energy generation facilities and battery energy storage facilities. We are further working with Coega and the DME and other private organizations such as the South African nuclear built program towards the development of the Thyspunt nuclear plant. The development of the first-of-kind rural mini grid electricity project in Raymond Mhlaba local municipality, which forms a national pilot for electrification of households in deep rural areas are amongst the initiatives that will help ensure energy security in our province which will further contribute to the declining rate of unemployment in the Eastern Cape.
Comrades, we can only sustain and improve the declining rates of unemployment if we enhance our efforts of building a capable, ethical and developmental state in the province. In the Eastern Cape we have a lot more work to do in improving the agility, effectiveness, efficiency and responsiveness of government in the provincial and local spheres.
In all honesty, the agility of our government at all levels and spheres leaves much to be desired. The fact that it takes us months at times even years to process applications is quite telling. The Lekgotla must provide systematic ways of improving the agility of government in our province. However, systems alone will not assist if we as individuals deployed to government are not agile.
This Lekgotla must provide additional mechanisms to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of government, including the much-needed digital transformation to introduce new or modify existing business processes in provincial and local government. Fiscal leakages and unnecessary costs are things that can be avoided by modifying our systems.
We need a responsive government and an enhanced delivery of services to our communities. It is time comrades for us to take a decision on the location of the function of water provision in districts noting the several challenges that local municipalities experience within their communities on a matter that is not within their mandate.
It is pleasing to see progress in the audit outcomes of provincial departments and entities which creates amongst other things investor confidence and public trust leading to increased legitimacy of the democratic state. We must replicate this progress in local government because that is where investments are made, as it is no use in the private sector having confidence in provincial government and no confidence in local government.
We must intensify efforts of building a more ethical state by introducing more stringent measures to combat corruption and fraud in the public and private sector. We are continuing to implement the Lekgotla resolution for lifestyle audits to be conducted on the executive and senior government officials.
The stability of local government, especially in municipalities governed by coalitions such as the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, is a cause for concern. Although we have lost control over the metro, the calls for a legislative framework for coalitions for purpose of achieving stability and good governance in municipalities must be supported and discussed in this Lekgotla.
Comrades, our Lekgotla must think more developmentally on the question of social transformation in a manner that seeks to lift as many people from the social security net as possible. Each aspect of social transformation must contribute to our economic growth and transformation objectives. For example, even when a hospital is built, it shouldn’t just be about provision of healthcare. We should be deliberate in ensuring that through the construction of the hospital, women, youth, people with disabilities and local suppliers are affirmed even above the minimum legislative requirements. The example set in the construction of the Sipetu Hospital must be followed in all our infrastructure projects.
The planned business training of the School Nutrition Programme Meal Servers in the province is the kind of developmental thinking we need by those deployed in the social transformation sector. We need more similar interventions to empower women and other excluded groups in the productive sectors of the economy.
When we think of the provision of shelter it must go beyond providing decent housing for the destitute. Hence, we must support and applaud the current plans to broaden the human settlements approach to intervene for middle-earning populations, new entrants, students, and all those that don’t qualify for housing and at the same time don’t have access to bonds. This Lekgotla must direct government to immediately develop plans to implement a programme that will address the plight of these categories.
Comrades, we need concrete interventions that are well integrated and coordinated to ensure that we build more safer communities in the province especially for women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and the LGBTQI+ community. The silo approach of making our communities safer is not working and is the reason why many of our people live in fear. An unsafe community is not a conducive environment for investments which leaves people of that community, especially women more vulnerable as they then have access to work opportunities exposing them to more violence and crime. It is even worse when women law enforcement officers are brutally murdered while being on duty such as the unfortunate incident that took place in Gqeberha where a traffic official who has been of service to the nation for 15 years was shot dead allegedly by four men whilst performing her duties.
We expect this Lekgotla to dedicate time and do justice to this work by proposing concrete interventions that are practical and speak to the lived experiences of our people over and above campaigns that we must lead.
We need to build the creative arts in the province and ensure that we dominate the industries that we always display talent on in the national and international scale. It can’t be correct that we have leading artists, actors, writers, producers’, sportswomen and men in the country, but they must leave the province to grow their talent or make a living for themselves. There is no reason why we don’t have film and arts, sports and music hubs that produce and promote local content that will compete at a global stage.
The building of a better Africa and world remains our strategic priority and that must show in our deliberations during the Lekgotla. The situation in Ukraine which has gone in its seventh month now has shown us all that we are all affected by what happens beyond our borders. The rising costs of living are a result of the on-going geo-political affairs which requires that we invest time in building a better Africa that will be able to weather all the global developments because of its resilience and less reliance on the world for issues such as food security and productivity.
We note the recent developments in the Russia-Ukraine situation wherein four provinces have been annexed by Russia after agreements were signed recently with the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia. This was following referendums held in the regions where the people expressed their will.
We are once again concerned by the double standards and inconsistency by the west and the UN who have have dismissed the referendums as breaching international law, whilst being actively supporting the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel for more than 74 years.
Comrades, all that I have raised above requires a strong coherent, cohesive and united organization that is renewed and whose integrity has been restored for our people to be able to entrust it again as an agent for change. History has proven that it is only in moments of unity and cohesion that we are able to achieve meaningful progress in the objectives we want to achieve. It is when we are fragmented that we suffer setbacks in the advances we have made.
Equally, history has proven that a lot has been achieved when the Alliance is united and coherent. But comrades, let us not for one moment make a mistake to think that the unity of the Alliance means its components cannot take their own decisions for the interests of their own organizations and the people that they serve. What remains important is that each of the components of the Alliance still identify with the national democratic revolution as the strategic programme to resolve the fundamental contradictions in society, and this is what matters. The discussion on the modalities of advancing the NDR have been historically robust but has not been a sufficient basis for the Alliance to break. Many opponents of the NDR pray for the day the Alliance breaks because they know what it will mean for each of the components.
We must therefore engage in the current discussions in a manner that promotes the unity and cohesion of the Alliance and one informed by a thorough understanding of its history and shared objectives. For example, the call for the SACP to contest elections must be discussed in a manner that has the advancement of the national democratic revolution and the interests of the people at the center of the discourse. Whatever route we take, we must agree that all our formations need to be much stronger than they are, especially the federation which is losing its presence in the industrial sectors which is why there is a dominance of public sector unions in the federation today. Most of the working population, the majority of the deeply exploited, those with insecure work are found in the private sector and a large proportion of them are un-organized which is a serious threat to our revolution.
Comrades let us intensify our Letsema campaign which has kicked of very well in the province. We commend the PET and RETs in the province for the sterling work they have done in carrying out the Letsema campaign in our communities. Our MDM formations, especially SASCO must adopt the Letsema approach in the context of campus work which remains an important pillar of their strategic perspective to transformation in order to prevent losses such as the one we suffered in Nelson Mandela University yesterday. It is clear comrades that a lot of work needs to be done in Nelson Mandela region as one of our economic hubs in the province where we are losing significant support from the motive forces of the NDR and the people in general.
As we prepare for the 55th National Conference, the province must once again play its leadership role in shaping both the content and form of the organization for it to be an effective instrument for transformation in the hands of the people. The National Conference must come out firmer on its resolve to unite and renew the organization. We can never backtrack on the renewal programme hence the leadership we elect and policies we take must reflect a n organization that is committed to renew itself.
Let’s all work towards the building of the Eastern Cape we want and use this Lekgotla to demonstrate our serious on this resolve.
Our leadership role must always be earned and never taken for granted because it is not a birthright. It is through our ability to provide concrete solutions to the concrete realities of our people and the advancement of the NDR that our people will continue having confidence in their movement.
With these words, I invite all of you to engage robustly and productively to ensure that our Lekgotla is a resounding success. As said before, the success of our Lekgotla will not be measured by how articulate we are able to be but on the practicality of the solutions we propose and them translating to the changed living conditions of our people for the better.
Thank you very much comrades.