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Premier resists call for release of full Manase report
24 Feb 2012
Nalini Naidoo

THE Manase forensic investigation report dominated yesterday’s state of the province address (Sopa) debate.

Opposition parties called for the release of the entire report, which lists corruption and maladministration at the eThekwini metro. However, Premier Zweli Mkhize hit back, saying forensic reports were the first phase in a long process and suspects couldn’t have their names bandied about without the chance to defend themselves.

He said the KZN Legislature could ask the MEC for Co-operative Governance for a more detailed briefing.

For opposition parties, debating the Manase investigation allowed them to focus on the issue of corruption in the province. ANC speakers, however, dismissed them as clutching at straws, trying desperately to find something to criticise in Sopa.

As for the rest of the debate, the opposition were largely complimentary of the premier’s address.

Jo-Ann Downs (ACDP) said this was the first time that she had witnessed a co-ordinated and structured plan for growth in KZN. “We will be observing keenly the roll-out of these plans to monitor their successful implementation,” she said.

The DA was not happy at the number of statues to be erected for liberation struggle heroes and that two museums are to be built. However, the premier was having none of this. In his response he said that heritage was heritage and “our heroes are our heroes; if some people are not happy, tough luck”.

Mkhize said the number of statues being erected this year was because it was the ANC’s centenary year. He reminded the house that the statue of Queen Victoria still remained outside the legislature. “We did not pull it down,” he said.

Dr Lionel Mtshali (IFP) said that while a strong emphasis of Sopa was clean governance, the premier had said “precious little” on the “infamous” Manase report.

“The eThekwini Metro has become a piggy-bank for well-connected ANC politicians and deployed cadres. Their private business dealings have resulted in the plunder of public resources.

“With the Manase Report illustrating abuse of power by civil servants and politicians on such a grand scale, the provincial government has no option but to regulate the business interests of state employees to prevent them from doing business with government.,”

Mtshali said not enough officials were declaring their business interests.

The IFP leader in the legislature, Blessed Gwala, said there was little evidence of an agrarian revolution sweeping through rural KZN.

He urged the premier and the Education MEC to bite the bullet and confront teacher unions on the issue of performance management.

“The people of this province expect their government to be decisive and, even more importantly, to put their needs before the vested interest of the ruling party and its allies in the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union,” he added.

The Minority Front’s new leader, Shamim Thakur-Rajbansi, thanked the legislature for its support and the tributes members had paid to her late husband, Amichand Rajbansi.

She said the only chance of success for the KZN’s massive infrastructure plans lay in having sufficient skills.

“The devil always lies in our skills base,” Thakur-Rajbansi said. She told the premier that he had called on KZN to wake up, but that he now needed to see to it that government departments also woke up.

“What we cannot excuse is the non-delivery of textbooks. While you centralise certain areas in your department, make this a priority too,” she said.

Mkhize in his response said this was the first debate without Rajbansi. “By now we would all be laughing. The Raj’s spirit will never leave this house,” the premier said.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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