Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela has urged law enforcement agencies, including the Hawks and Special Investigating Unit, to deal decisively with perpetrators of corruption in the province’s municipalities. Ntombela delivered her State of the Province Address in Bloemfontein.
Ntombela has admitted that a number of municipalities including Mangaung, Mafube and Metsimaholo are facing huge administrative challenges. Her stance on corruption follows the arrest of three more senior government officials on corruption charges relating to the asbestos roofing.
The asbestos project case was heard in court in February:
Ntombela says her government welcomes the investigation of corruption that has already started in the province’s municipalities.
“We are concerned with the state of our local government, many of our municipalities are facing technical administration and financial challenges. Attacking corruption remains high on our development agenda. We are cooperating with our law enforcement agencies in their investigations. No acts of corruption will be tolerated in our municipalities. A database of fraud and corruption cases reported has been created and some cases have already been dealt with. “
Ntombela’s address has been met with mixed reactions by opposition parties. Democratic Alliance caucus leader in the Free State Roy Jankielsohn has questioned the Free State government vaccination programme.
“Our biggest concern however is that our COVID-19 vaccination plan in the Free State seems to have fallen into a pothole because the Premier said she will vaccinate 2 042 people per day. If one takes that number it’s going to take more than five years on a seven day a week to vaccinate the population in the Free State. So I am not sure how she is going to be able to vaccinate 1.9 million people within 12 months with the indicated 2 042 people per day. “
Economic recovery plan
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Free State Chairperson Mandisa Makesini has urged Ntombela to ensure an economic recovery plan that benefits unemployed youth, women and people with disabilities.
“The issue of the monitoring of the economic hub, that she has identified how to stimulate the economy, we will monitor, we will see if those things are happening. If they happen they will assist the economy of the province but we will give her the benefit of the doubt to those things she has promised. We are worried about the ailing municipalities because she said nothing about municipalities and the issue of corruption in the province. We are happy on the issue of GBV where she called on everyone to join the fight against GBV because it affects all of us.”
Holding officials accountable
Freedom Front Plus National Council of Provinces delegate Armand Cloete says executive mayors in the province must be held accountable for poor administration and lack of service delivery in their municipalities.
“Unfortunately that is not up to her, it’s up to the mayor and councillors to condemn any misconduct by any official, but we don’t see that. Every day we see municipal councils condoning whatever is done in our municipalities. So she could have said much more today but it was one of those vague SOPAs where we really don’t know what is the plan for the Free State. “
ANC welcomes the address
Meanwhile, the African National Congress (ANC) has welcomed Premier Ntombela’s address.
Free State ANC deputy chairperson William Bulwane says, “I am happy that the premier went to town with the Economic Recovery Plan, looking into the possibility to ensure that we look into revitalising the township economy and make sure everybody benefits – youth, women and people with disabilities including agriculture. Stats SA’s final report talks about one of the stable economies that can be used, it is agriculture because it doesn’t need skilled labour.”
Ntombela says they will also prioritise the fight against gender-based violence.