OPINION

Ace Magashule should focus on eating ANC's cheese - Roy Jankielsohn

DA LO says FState Premier's resignation and departure for Luthuli House can't come soon enough

Ace Magashule: It's time to remove the mouse that has been eating the cheese

Premier Ace Magashule has governed the Free State like a mouse in charge of the cheese, and his election as Secretary-General (SG) of the ANC came as a relief to many people in the province.

The silence regarding the issue of Ace Magashule serving as SG of the ANC and as Premier of the Free State simultaneously needs to be broken. The people of the Free State require clarity around this issue since it is common knowledge that the position of SG a full-time paid position.

Ace Magashule should immediately resign as Premier and a special meeting of the Free State Legislature should be convened to elect a new Premier before the State of the Province Address (SOPA) in February.

The Code of Conduct for Members of the Free State Legislature states that:

“A Member may only engage in remunerated employment outside the Legislature when such employment is:

a) sanctioned by the political party to which the Member belongs and

b) compatible with that Member’s function as a public representative.”

It is clear that a full-time position at the ANC headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg is not compatible with an important position as Premier of the Free State. Magashule is already failing to attend crucial sessions of the Legislature regularly as required from a Premier.

Besides the destructive and factional manner in which he manages the ANC in the Free State, which saw his chairpersonship lose two High Court cases instituted against his PEC by his own members, as Premier he has failed our people dismally.

Statistics South Africa have indicated that the Free State’s unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2017 was at 38.5%. Furthermore, the General Household Survey (GHS) released in May 2017 (for the year 2016) indicated that out of 929 000 households in the Free State, about 495 000 households cited social grants as either the only source of income or supplementing their salaried income with social grants. This amounts to about one million people who have become dependent on social grants out of a population of almost 2.9 million in the Free State, an increase from 850 000 in 2010. Magashule continues to cite this as an achievement of his term while he destroyed the provincial economy.

At a provincial government level, Premier Magashule abused Operation Hlasela to expand his patronage network. The Public Protector also indicated that Operation Hlasela conflated the boundaries between a political party, the ANC, and the state.

The 2016/17 Auditor General’s (AG) Report for the Free State indicated that there is a severe “lack of accountability and commitment towards clean administration” in the province with departments failing to comply with supply chain management. The AG also noted that instances of irregular expenditure were not always investigated, and where investigations did take place, there were no action taken against implicated officials and the money was merely written off.

Unauthorised expenditure was recorded at just over R300 million, fruitless and wasteful expenditure totalled R10 million and irregular expenditure is a massive R6.4 billion. Only two Free State departments managed to obtain a clean audit, Provincial Treasury and the Free State Provincial Legislature, while the Office of the Premier regressed from an unqualified audit opinion to a qualified audit outcome.

Most municipalities in the province have either collapsed or are in the process of doing so with a combined ESKOM debt of over R6 billion, the largest in the country. Water supplies and municipal services in many towns have already become erratic with raw sewerage running down streets and into rivers and streams.

Magashule has also been implicated in various allegations of corruption dating back many years that include property deals, the solicitation of “facilitation fees”, controversial and inflated tenders and the notorious Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy Project.

It is obvious that Magashule is delaying his resignation as Premier in order to tie up loose ends and secure the continuation of his extensive factional network of patronage that has been built on the backs and at the expense of the people of the Free State through the ANC’s cadre deployment policy (democratic centralism) and Operation Hlasela.

It is time for Ace to move his network to Luthuli House, where he will do to the ANC exactly what he has done in the Free State.

Statement issued by Dr Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition, 4 January 2017