22 February 2019

South Africa: Political SOPA Opera? Limpopo Premier's Address Ends in High Drama

Chaos broke out at the end of Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha's State of the Province Address (SOPA) in Polokwane, Limpopo, on Friday.

The disruptions started when (EFF) provincial leader Jossey Buthane interjected and accused Mathabatha of "coming here and [saying] nothing".

Buthane himself was then interrupted by singing ANC legislature members and people in the public gallery. He called them "baboons dancing to bananas" and EFF members were later forcefully ejected from of the hall.

In his almost 90-minute address, Mathabatha spoke about the achievements of the provincial government in the last financial year, ranging from job creation, service delivery, the state of municipalities and education.

"The central part of our efforts over the past five years has been the commitment to grow the economy and create the much-needed jobs for our people, particularly for our young people.

"Evidence proves that we have not betrayed this commitment," Mathabatha said.

He provided figures from the Stats SA's Labour Force Survey which indicated that 317 000 jobs were created since 2014.

He also said new mining projects were in the pipeline and were expected to create jobs in the Capricorn and Sekhukhune districts.

According to Mathabatha, the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, with investment of about R150bn from China, was the provincial flagship project.

Referring to education, Mathabatha did not believe the 2018 Grade 12 examination outcomes reflected a poor state of education in the province. Limpopo was the worst-performing province. It recorded a pass rate of 69.4%.

Instead, Mathabatha was full of praise for the class of 2018: "The most remarkable aspect about our matric results is the quality and not only the quantity.

"I also need to indicate that Limpopo contributed the fourth-largest number of African children who have passed mathematics, science and technology."

He also praised the performance of municipalities in spending their conditional grants.

"Most of you would remember that when we took over in 2014, corporate governance in Limpopo had virtually collapsed. The province was bankrupt with no money for service delivery. Today we can confidently say that Limpopo is back on a sound financial footing. We are no longer in the red," he said.

Buthane spoke to the media about the disruptions and said the EFF was irked by the fact that ANC legislature members and some members of the public stood up and started singing while the house was still in session.

"That meant it was no longer a house. It was just a playing ground where anyone can do as they want. That is why they brought this activity here at Polokwane because they knew they were going to bring in their branches to take over the legislature," Buthane said.

He said there was "nothing new in the speech except that he (Mathabatha) repeated what he said last year".

DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle described the speech as "totally uninspiring".

"It was clear that the premier was trying his utmost to paint a good picture when he spoke about the business sector. When you look at job creation, it is clear that there's not enough jobs and the 317 000 jobs created is not nearly enough," Smalle said.

A press conference scheduled by the office of the premier after the session was later cancelled and no reasons were provided.

Source: News24

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