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Mpumalanga SOPA: Premier recognises critical issues, but offers no feasible solutions

Sugared words about job creation, infrastructure development and the revival of tourism mean nothing if no indication is given of feasible plans to achieve those ideals.

In her State of the Province Address (SOPA) today, the Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane, announced several new projects with great fanfare, despite the fact that there are many large projects that have been dragging on for years, are costing taxpayers millions of rand, and are still far from being finalised.

It includes the Mpumalanga International Fruit Market on which more than R700 million has been spent, but it is still nowhere near completion.

Since 2011, more than R300 million has been spent on the development of a cultural hub in White River and a high-performance centre in Belfast, but both lots are still vacant.

The FF Plus is of the opinion that the government must first complete these outstanding projects before launching new ones.

In fact, the Auditor-General (AG) mentioned in his latest report that the lack of preventive control measures relating to projects in the provincial Department of Human Settlements is the main reason why these projects are dragging on and result in misappropriation.

SANRAL's donation of R9 billion to the province for the upgrade of roads, with the focus on tourism routes, is welcomed.

But it is doubtful whether tourists will be willing to drive down these nice new roads to spend their money at, among other places, provincial nature reserves, many of which are in a very poor condition and in some cases, there are no fences nor any game left.

Mtsweni-Tsipane admitted that municipalities are refusing to cooperate with the provincial government, but failed to offer a solution detailing how these municipalities will be compelled to perform their constitutional duty towards residents.

Although she asked for cooperation between the private sector and the provincial government to create sustainable job opportunities and bring about economic growth, it is uncertain if anything will come of her plea.

Thus far, Mpumalanga has been unable to retain long-term private investments seeing as projects, like the Nkomazi special economic zone, have not been finalised and municipalities' service delivery and infrastructure maintenance are falling far short.

The FF Plus wants to advise the Premier to take strong leadership to develop Mpumalanga's potential for the benefit of all its people.

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