The KwaZulu-Natal government is to conduct lifestyle audits of officials in high-risk positions “starting with our supply chain management units”, Premier Willies Mchunu announced on Wednesday.
“This will be done in collaboration with the South African Revenue Services (Sars),” Mchunu said, when he delivered the State of the Province Address (Sopa) at the Royal Show Grounds in Pietermaritzburg.
“We are absolutely committed to effectively combat fraud and corruption and reduce unauthorised, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. We will apply a zero-tolerance approach in dealing with those who are found guilty of these transgressions,” he said.
He added that, for the provincial government to perform better, officials would have to step up their ability to manage their departments and entities in a manner that will meet the good governance standards measured by the Auditor-General.
“We therefore accept that we have to improve on a situation where only two departments in the province, namely the provincial treasury and the Department of Sport and Recreation, received clean audits in the last financial year,” Mchunu said.
He said the provincial government was also equally unimpressed that it did not meet standards as far as “our commitments to have all payments made within 30 days”.
“Special measures are being implemented to improve our reporting on payments and to ensure that appropriate consequence management steps are taken where required,” he said.
Mchunu also committed to a public-private coalition dedicated to combating fraud and corruption and promoting good governance.
He said it was not pleasing that the province had the second-largest housing backlog of more than 740 000 units.
He said 40 000 houses are to be built on eight “catalytic” housing projects around KZN.
Bursaries for vulnerable youth
Mchunu added that his government was concerned about the recent events related to oncology services in the province.
“Swift action and the involvement of an interdepartmental team has stabilised the situation and we’re now working on measures to fully restore services and to prevent a similar occurrence,” he said.
The province was also worried about the outbreak of Listeriosis, “which has suddenly grown into an epidemic”.
“We call upon everyone to heed the advice of the World Health Organisation and the Department of Health on how to avoid the further spread of this disease.”
Even though they have no direct mandate in respect of higher education, the KZN government had resolved to continuously engage with the Minister of Higher Education and Training to facilitate better integration and collaboration on matters concerning post-school education and training.
Provincial departments have allocated R375-million for next year to fund approximately 3 500 bursaries, he revealed.
“This includes an allocation of R20-million from the Premier’s Discretionary Fund for 437 bursaries designated for orphaned and vulnerable youth.”
KZN Youth Development Fund
He said they were also pleased with the phasing-in of fee free higher education for poor households.
He called on sectors of society to contribute “to whatever extent they can” to make this a reality.
The premier also announced that they would launch a programme called Sukuma 10 000 in the coming financial year. Its aim was to create 10 000 new job opportunities.
The programme which would be coordinated by his office would target the youth, women and people with disabilities across the province.
KZN’s youth unemployment rates currently stands at 38.6%.
“We understand that inclusive, expanded and sustained economic output is a fundamental driver for job creation and shared economic growth.
“In this regard we remain unwavering on radical economic transformation,” Mchunu said.
The provincial government will also be launching a KZN Youth Development Fund early this year, he announced.
“We will reprioritise our current allocation to ensure that we have at least R50-million to capitalise this fund,” he said.
The fund would provide seed funding for qualifying youth business development and would also accept private sector corporate social investment contributions, according to Mchunu.
He said they were also concerned about the of the province’s water infrastructure.
“Not only is our water infrastructure old, there is also a serious disconnect between the various delivery agents in the water sector,” he said, adding that they needed to ensure that they provide at least 75 litres of water per person per day.
DA leader in KZN Zwakele Mchunu criticised Mchunu for “praising” Zuma during his address.
“Today’s speech was about the farewell of Jacob Zuma. I don’t know how many times the premier mentioned Zuma and praises for Zuma. I think he forgot to mention that our state has been captured because of Zuma,” he said.
During his speech, Mchunu said: “We also want to express our heartfelt appreciation for our former president Jacob Zuma for having led us to where we are today. We pay special tribute to your leadership. We acknowledge the role you have played in the development and adoption of the National Development Plan, the fight and gains we have made against HIV/AIDS, as well as elevating South Africa’s international profile as a fully-fledged member of the BRICS alliance.”
Mncwango said Mchunu made “good noises with no content”.
“I was hoping the premier would talk about the state of health in our province. He only mentioned oncology but I was surprised he didn’t actually go deep to say how the province would deal with the oncology crisis,” he said.—News24