Western Cape produced half of new jobs in Q4: Alan Winde in state of the province address
The Western Cape produced more than half of SA’s new jobs in the final quarter of last year, says premier Alan Winde.
Delivering his state of the province address in Mitchells Plain on Thursday, Winde said 24,000 jobs were created in the last quarter of 2019.
He addressed delegates in the Rocklands Civic Centre, which hosted the address in place of the legislature in Wale Street, central Cape Town.
Standing by a statue commemorating the United Democratic Front’s founding at the civic centre in 1983, Winde observed an impressive parade of provincial and local services including firefighters, metro police and the Rocklands Neighbourhood Watch followed by a fly-over by a helicopter and two planes belonging to Working on Fire.
“The Rocklands Civic Centre is no stranger to historic events. It was here that the UDF rose up against the evils of apartheid. It was here that people of all walks united behind the idea of a democratic South Africa in which everyone would be free,” Winde said.
He hailed an increased pass rate at government schools in the province and said lifestyle audits were under way on members of his executive council. “While I expect that they will all come back clean, if they do not, I will take action,” he said.
He also announced the deployment of the first 500 of 3,000 new law enforcement officers and promised his and his cabinet’s support to the new provincial police commissioner, Lt-Gen Yolisa Matakata, who sat in the front row of guests.
Winde called on opposition parties to support her, and she was applauded by virtually all members of the provincial parliament.
Winde said the Western Cape prioritised safety and security following the launch of his five-year, multibillion-rand safety plan last year for the province, one of the worst for gang violence and murder.
He thanked police minister Bheki Cele for adding 1,100 officers to the province’s police service.
“The fact is that we don’t have enough men and women in blue assigned to our province — the police’s own stats prove this. That is why we have needed to bolster our own safety services. But we are adamant that our personnel will work in co-operation, hand in hand, with the national police in our province,” he said.
“This is a promise that I made to our new provincial commissioner, Lt-Gen Yolisa Matakata, when we met earlier this year, and it is a promise that I intend to keep,” said Winde.
His strategy to further increase job growth, said Winde, was to support the private sector with the province’s red-tape-reduction programmes.
Winde welcomed energy reforms announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state of the nation address last week, saying there was an unparalleled opportunity for the country in the global energy transition.
“The wind and solar resources of SA are so plentiful that by using only 1% of our land, renewable energy could produce more than six times the amount of energy that Eskom produces today,” he said.
“We are fortunate, especially in the Western Cape, to have some of the best solar and wind resources in the world, and we have the ability to become the emerging market leader in renewable energy.”
In the pursuit of energy stability and a green economy, Winde announced a four-point plan for the province:
- Help municipalities procure energy from independent power producers;
- Increase “small-scale embedded generation” such as solar panels in private homes, business and other entities;
- Increase greening of government buildings. Winde said 17 buildings already have rooftop solar systems; and
- Increase imports of liquefied natural gas.
Winde begged the national government for more money for education, saying an influx of children from other provinces had increased the Western Cape's burden.
“Our education system is facing immense strain due to in-migration from other provinces. Despite this, the national government has cut education department budgets, impacting our ability to build schools and hire teachers — a situation we call on to be reversed,” said Winde.
He also hinted at the possibility of a provincial takeover of the Metrorail commuter train service in the Western Cape.
“Over the past few weeks, we have had several very positive engagements with the administrator appointed by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA. I’m also thrilled that President Ramaphosa has finally committed to doing something about the worst- affected lines,” he said.
In the absence of a properly functioning commuter train service, Winde said the province would introduce a “game-changing minibus pilot project” intended to create a better taxi service.
“It will use technology to monitor and improve the behaviour of taxi drivers. We will also be investing more in public transport infrastructure, including ranks, stops and shelters, to improve the daily experience of taxi commuters,” said Winde.
On the topic of housing, the premier reprimanded land invaders, accusing them of jumping the public housing queue by occupying private land and demanding emergency temporary housing when they were evicted.
“These invaders are making the government’s job of delivering housing opportunities to those most deserving, and of addressing past spatial biases in home ownership, completely impossible,” he said.
“Both the Woodstock Hospital and Helen Bowden mixed housing project sites are overrun by illegal occupants — many of whom were encouraged to take their criminal action by registered NGOs purporting to stand for land redistribution.
“How ironic that these very organisations are driving the exact opposite outcome.”
He said backyard dwellers would be prioritised when new housing projects were considered.
Two new mixed-use projects which included social housing were under construction: Conradie Park in Thornton, which would include 3,600 homes, and a project in the Belhar CBD where 4,100 “assorted residential units” were being built.
The Founders Garden Artscape mixed-use project in the CBD also received approval last year and Winde said construction would start in 2022.
He said the province was searching for more suitable housing land and promised to “match” land made available for housing by public works minister Patricia de Lille.
“I’d like to make another offer: Allow the government of this region to take over the delivery of District Six, so that we can hand it back to its rightful owners — we will do it quicker and better,” he said.