Preview: Will Gauteng premier’s address be nothing but rhetoric?

As Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi gears up to deliver his final State of the Province Address (Sopa) for the sixth administration, opposition parties are casting doubts on the effectiveness of the anticipated speech.

Scheduled to take place at the Nasrec Expo Centre on Monday evening, Lesufi’s address is expected to highlight both the achievements and challenges experienced by the province over the past year while outlining plans for the year ahead.

However, amid the anticipation, several parties are saying the event will be nothing more than a political stunt aimed at swaying the electorate ahead of the general elections.

Citing a persistently high unemployment rate, rampant crime, and a decline in economic activity, opposition parties are sceptical of any meaningful change that will be addressed in the Sopa.

Action SA provincial leader Funzi Ngobeni cautioned that the premier would attempt to make a false impression of the progress he has made, citing initiatives like the Nas’Ispani job-creation programme. 

Watch: Ngobeni outlines his expectations

Vuyiswa Ramokgopa, Rise Mzansi’s Gauteng premier candidate, highlighted five key challenges, including economic growth, corruption, fixing local governments, ensuring safe schooling environments, and improving healthcare.

Ramokgopa emphasised the need for tangible plans backed by budgetary allocations and accountability.

“These are areas that we believe are a priority amongst many others. We are tired of empty promises, gimmicks, and PR; we need a solid plan,” said Ramokgopa.

“We need a plan that is budgeted for, and we need accountability for what has been done in the five years of [the ANC’s] administration.”

Listen: Ramokgopa outlines her expectations 

Similarly, DA Gauteng premier candidate Solly Msimanga expressed little faith in hearing anything new from Lesufi, stating that he expects a repetition of previous promises that have failed to materialise.

Msimanga called for Lesufi to acknowledge purported failures and outline a path for effective change rather than resorting to rhetoric.

“We hope that he will tell the people that he has honestly failed and that there is not much that he has done,” said Msimanga.

“At least that will be the beginning of him admitting that there is something wrong and we can work on fixing it.”

Listen: Msimanga outlines his expectations 

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) also voiced concerns, demanding updates on promises such as helicopters for crime-fighting and face-detecting cameras that were made during the premier’s 2023 address.

Nyaniso Jeku, the ATM provincial spokesperson, emphasised the need for concrete solutions to combat poverty and unemployment, calling for genuine action over empty promises.

“We expect the premier to outline how he plans to take the people of Gauteng out of the poverty they are subjected to,” said Jeku.

“As the ATM in Gauteng, we call on the premier to take the people of Gauteng seriously; they have suffered enough. They need solutions, not grandstanding empty promises.”

Meanwhile, Nobuntu Hlazo-Webster of Build One SA accused the ANC of being out of touch with the realities facing Gauteng citizens.

Hlazo-Webster highlighted issues such as unemployment, inadequate housing, sanitation, and water shortages, arguing that the premier’s speech would likely fall short of addressing these pressing concerns.

Listen: Hlazo-Webster outlines her expectations 

As anticipation builds for Lesufi’s address, opposition parties remain vigilant, calling for substantive plans and action to address the many challenges facing Gauteng communities.

With elections looming, the ANC is under pressure to deliver and sway the electorate.

During his State of the Nation Address a week ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa tried to sell the story of Tintswalo but was faced with criticism from both political parties and citizens.

The electorate awaits to see if Lesufi’s speech will bring about meaningful change or simply serve as another political manoeuvre.

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