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Premier Stan Mathabatha.

Heated submissions characterise Sopa debate

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Premier Stan Mathabatha is anticipated to respond to reportedly heated submissions made by Members of the Provincial Legislature during Tuesday’s State of the Province Address (Sopa) debate in the Legislative chamber today (Thursday).
Freedom Front Plus (FF+)
Party Provincial Leader Marcelle Maritz argued that the province’s economy was barely growing with 1%, the growth forecast was also low and there was no feasible economic plan on the table that would bring about sustainable job creation. Maritz further tendered that skills development must improve drastically so as to ensure that schooled employees contribute to the province’s economy. Health care services at hospitals and clinics are poor and do not meet the basic health-related needs of the population, she contended and added that Provincial Government offered ittle to no support to the agricultural sector which was in desperate need of drought relief and suffered great economic damage due to the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.
Democratic Alliance (DA)
DA Provincial Leader Jacques Smalle argued: “It seems Mathabatha is more confused day after day and out of touch with the reality of the average citizen because he painted a picture of a province that is moving in the right direction but the truth is that we are faced by serious challenges. Mathabatha mentioned mining and agriculture as the province’s economic advantages but consistent job losses in these sectors and the recent poor handling of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak by the Department of Agriculture affected the red meat industry and stakeholders lost billions of Rand.”
Smalle further asserted that the R20 billion school infrastructure backlog in Limpopo had to be addressed urgently. Smalle further reminded that thus far this year three learners in two separate incidents lost their lives due to infrastructure defects thereby highlighting the Department of Education’s attitude of rather paying funeral costs than spend on sound infrastructure. Smalle concluded by saying the issue of sanitation in schools continued to be problematic and was being addressed at a snail’s pace.
Congress of the People (Cope)
Party Provincial Secretary Erick Mohlapamaswi stressed that when Mathabatha took office from Cassel Mathale he promised that he would deal with alleged corruption and fraud cases that were reported during Mathale’s term but that he hadn’t updated residents on what has been done to root out such criminal acts. People did not forget that billions of Rand where looted and misused yet no one has been held accountable for the mess, Mohlapamaswi alleged.
Mohlapamaswi stressed that, although Cope supported the planned Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, the Provincial Government started on a wrong footing by appointing a politician as its Chief Executive Officer. He reckoned that such massive projects should be led by someone who has a vast knowledge of business and experience in running large companies. With water seemingly being a major challenge in the province, he emphasised that Mathabatha should come up with effective ways to harvest rain water.
Limpopo United Business Forum (LUBF)
LUBF President Princess Tsakani Nkambule emphasised that the speech was scanty on reporting back from last year’s Sopa. She stated that last year Mathabatha had mentioned that the province would ensure that 20% of procurement is allocated to women, 20% to youth and 7 % to the disabled and added that there was no report back on the figures this year but instead the Premier mentioned a figure of 30%. This was a clear sign that no commitment, strategy or clear plan existed, Nkambule stressed. She urged Mathabatha to publish the provincial government departments’ 2020/21 annual performance plan as well as the medium term strategic framework as she reckoned that this would ensure that service delivery was not compromised and SMMEs would not be denied opportunities and much needed jobs will be created. At the time of going to print, Economic Freedom Fighters Provincial Leader Jossey Buthane and the African National Congress provincial Spokesperson, Donald Selamolela could not be reached for comment.

Story: ENDY SENYATSI
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