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Mpumalanga government must cut non-essentials from budget and focus on service delivery

The funding of non-essential projects, like the planned hotel with 200 rooms in Middelburg, is a luxury that has no place in a struggling provincial budget.

Tomorrow's provincial budget should allocate more funds to economic essentials, like infrastructure development, so that economic growth can take place, job opportunities can be created by the private sector, and poverty can be eradicated.

State expenditure on a hotel valued at about R500 million is not an automatic blessing for Mpumalanga's economic growth.

At present, Mpumalanga does not need luxuries like these that are being promoted under the smokescreen of "job creation". It is, at most, just a temporary measure to create jobs. As soon as the construction phase is over, all those workers will be without a job again. Besides, many of the contracts were awarded to companies from Gauteng.

The province should leave job creation to the public sector and, instead, focus on fulfilling government's mandate.

The province needs service delivery, it needs projects to be completed and above all, it needs to start saving water for its people.

Mpumalanga's biggest industries of forestry, mining and agriculture are all water-intensive activities. Old mines, in particular, pose problems as they pollute groundwater.

It means that Mpumalanga must start conserving its water by building more dams and new water treatment plants.

Many local municipalities have been struggling to supply water for quite some time.

The provincial government promised to provide significant resources to address the issue. It includes allocating R2,7 billion in the 2015/16 financial year to municipalities for water and sanitation projects and R91 million to the Lushushwane Bulk Water Supply Scheme in the Gert Sibande District Municipality.

But to date, most of these water projects are still dragging on.

Over the last few financial years, the ANC-led government promised on numerous occasions that it earmarked millions to combat water scarcity in regions experiencing dry conditions. And yet everyone is still waiting for those promised boreholes and dams.

Rather than spending money where it is needed the most, the ANC is allocating money for a hotel in a town like Middelburg, which is decaying at an alarming pace and is plagued by crime.

Any attempts to alleviate the current financial predicament will be useless if the ruling party lacks the political will to address the right crisis and turn it around.

Contact details: 084 652 9164 / 066 376 3329

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