Free State Premier Ace Magashule used his State of the Province Address (Sopa) yesterday to highlight his administration’s successes.
He also warned government officials that tough action would be taken against them if they failed to pay service providers within 30 days.
Delivering his Sopa at the University of the Free State’s arena, Magashule said: “Heads will roll against any government official who is found sitting on invoices for more than 30 days.”
Magashule said his government had made “significant achievements” in the areas of education, health, human settlements and the sphere of governance.
He cited as proof that he was doing a good job the province’s 81.6% matric pass rate in 2015 and affording students an opportunity to study overseas.
Magashule said the financial costs of post-school education should never prevent the poor from accessing a path that charts their way out of poverty.
“We have reconceptualised our provincial bursary programme to assist more students to further their studies in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes,” the premier said.
According to the premier, the Free State provincial audit outcomes for the last financial year were the best his government had yet produced.
“We obtained seven clean audits from five provincial departments,” he said.
“The provincial treasury obtained a clean audit for the six consecutive year.”
Magashule echoed President Jacob Zuma’s speech that there was a need to empower small and medium enterprises.
He said the focus this year would be to “support hawkers and provide decent shelters for microenterprises in the province”.
He acknowledged that the impact of drought was an issue in the province. But Magashule caused a stir when he told his audience the ANC did not make rain.
Free State has since been declared a drought disaster area, along with Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Mpumalanga.
The department of water and sanitation has invested more than R450 million to intensify drought relief. Magashule also announced his administration would implement cost-cutting measures.
DA leader in the legislature Roy Jankielsohn said the premier had failed to come up with a plan that would stimulate economic growth in the province.
“The province is facing one of the biggest droughts in history, but he failed to come up with plan of action to deal with it,” he said.
“Magashule has run out of aces.”