The courage needed to get the job done and to keep us moving forward
Today, I delivered a special address to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament in which I detailed the work the province has done in the fight against COVID-19 and chartered the way forward for the Western Cape’s recovery.
My speech detailed the brave and difficult choices the province has faced in addressing the catastrophic consequences of the pandemic and the country’s lockdown decisions, which have resulted in increased poverty, hunger and inequality both in South Africa and in the Western Cape.
The demands on this government have never been greater, and there will be significantly less money to do the job. This moment that now presents itself therefore requires brave decisions. Difficult decisions. It requires us to prioritise - to make a tough call on what we will continue to do and what we cannot.
I also announced the ‘north-stars’ that will guide us when making these brave decisions.
We will focus courageously and single-mindedly on creating jobs, making the province safer and promoting dignity and wellbeing for all our residents.
Because when you have a job, when you feel safe, and when you are treated with dignity, you create well-being and hope. They are all inter-linked, without one you cannot achieve the other.
Together, they are our recipe for real change. They are our ingredients for hope.
Jobs and the economy:
- The province recognizes that it is the private sector, and not the state, that drives economic growth and job creation.
- We plan to create 20 000 jobs through rapid interventions including finalizing 26 private sector investments currently in the pipeline, the promotion of exports, the removal of red tape in all departments, the fast-tracking existing infrastructure builds which are in the implementation phase, and the scaling up of public sector work programmes for the unemployed to encourage private sector led growth.
-The Western Cape will start the technical process to form a dedicated infrastructure agency, that can transact and hold assets, as well as borrow money, as a 3D entity under the PFMA in order to deliver job-creating infrastructure projects.
- We have taken a decision to explore - for the first time in the history of this province - the possibility of borrowing money from financial institutions to specifically invest in infrastructure that will enhance economic growth and job creation. This decision will not be taken lightly, and all due diligence will be followed. Given our excellent track record in government, and consistent clean audit results, we have demonstrated that we can do so successfully.
-In order to focus spend on infrastructure projects which will have the most impact on job creation, we will prioritise government spending by freezing non-critical posts in the Western Cape Government. The Western Cape Government has also written to the President, and the minister of Public Service and Administration to have a say in wage negotiations which impact the provincial wage bill.
-The Western Cape needs a single Transport Authority for the Greater Cape Town region in order to address mobility challenges, and ensure jobs, dignity and safety of people in vulnerable communities. We will now begin process of engaging with partners in other spheres of government so that this can be done.
-I also announced the roll out of a Blue Dot Service, in partnership with the taxi industry which will improve safety and customer service by incentivizing owners and drivers to deliver a better service, which will be tracked using technology. This will support jobs in the industry and provide a safe, reliable and affordable public transport system to help fill the gap created by failing railway systems.
-We have allocated R27 million in initial relief to small businesses and the informal sector who have been hardest hit and we will continue with small business support programmes over the medium term.
-We will support municipalities in leveraging the recent directives from the National Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy that they can now develop their own power generation projects and also secure power from Independent Power Producers. This government’s focus on the new, green economy perfectly positions us to take advantage of these developments.
-We will boost economic and consumer confidence through local and international promotion.
-We will continue to lobby the National Government to allow all international visitors with a negative PCR Covid-19 test to visit our province, so that tourism can safely boom again and these jobs can come back.
There is a war raging in our communities, especially against our women and children and we must win this war in order to build a better future for our people.
Safety requires both urgent and medium-term interventions. Our Safety Plan remains a priority despite the financial pressures we face.
-Despite budget cuts, we will not roll-back on our boots-on-the-ground commitment.
-The 500 LEAP officers already launched will continue to be deployed to hotspot crime areas based on evidence and data, and we will stick with our plans to deploy an additional 500 officers thereafter.
-We will also not walk-back on our commitment that we will halve the provincial murder rate in the Western Cape in a decade.
-In addition to the boots on the ground, violence prevention programmes will be put in place to foster nurturing relationships between children and caregivers and ensure education and life skills.
-We will confront the Western Cape’s dangerous relationship with alcohol through smart interventions. We will therefore be making a number of amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Act.
- As part of these amendments, “per-unit-of-alcohol” pricing, which makes it more expensive to buy alcoholic beverages with a higher alcohol percentage, is being seriously considered because evidence suggests it can be effective in preventing binge drinking.
-We will also consider stricter times for the sale of alcohol, even after the expiry of the national state of the disaster regulations.
-In the short term, we will train and place 120 peace-officers at 6 municipalities across the province.
- As part of our medium-term response, we will recruit an additional 1000 young people to be deployed as safety ambassadors in public spaces.
-We have established a rural safety desk in our government to address concerns of rural communities, and we have already started with recruitment.
-We will upscale our Gender Based Violence services, through 6 new shelters, and start work on a dedicated GBV strategy for the Western Cape. We have the funding and the service providers ready to go just as soon as Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille signs the MOU for the properties.
- We are strengthening our after-hours response teams by advertising 30 additional GBV social worker posts. This will ensure we have the right support available to GBV victims late at night and on the weekends, when help is needed the most.
Dignity and well-being:
- Dignity and well-being have to be consistently realized throughout someone’s life. From the moment we are born to the moment we die, every life matters. Dignity is about a solid foundation in the early years, from pregnancy, through to education, creating opportunities for skills, work and to earn and income. Dignity is also about being respected when you are old and cared for when you are sick.
-We will protect key education services in this tight fiscal environment
-We have rolled out the #CommitToFinish campaign aimed at ensuring that matric learners finish their schooling.
-The humanitarian response will continue to focus on providing food relief in conjunction with our civil society and NGO partners.
-The Department of Social Development will be allocating additional funding to food relief by community kitchens.
- The Department of Economic Development and Tourism has developed a voucher system so that community kitchens can purchase what they need from local businesses and spaza shops.
-We will develop a comprehensive surveillance system, including a stunting baseline survey that will assist us with the evidence we need to intervene with nutrition programmes in the future.
-We will continue with our food garden programme, by launching thousands more gardens in communities across the Western Cape.
-A key priority is to ensure that residents can access comprehensive health services at all our facilities. We must ensure that residents immunize their children and receive treatment for other illnesses.
-We will be using the systems and lessons we learned with Covid, to address TB which is a major cause of death in the Western Cape each year. We will therefore implement a 90/90/90 strategy to find identify 90% of all TB cases, and place them on treatment, find 90% of TB cases in vulnerable populations such as those living with HIV and to successfully treat 90% of all those diagnosed with drug sensitive TB.
- Our vision is that every person can access early childhood development, if they so decide. It is therefore an important priority going forward.
-ECDs provide safe spaces for children and jobs for a number of people, particularly women. So far, 2616 of our ECDs have re-opened, 1423 are ready to re-open and 1255 need more help to become compliant to open safely.
-We will increase assistance by providing more PPE and hygiene materials to those who still need it so that many more can reopen as soon as possible.
-We will also be convening a special consultative forum with key stakeholders doing amazing work in this space, to plot a common way forward to ensure that ECDs are treated like a critical service, and their work can be expanded to reach many more children.
- We will continue to provide support to homeless residents, by scaling-up shelter space and related services for the homeless in areas where it is needed most and we will focus on the reintegration of homeless adults, so that they can have access to the families and support systems that they need to have dignity.
-The province will take its commitment to inclusionary housing even further by finalizing and completing our inclusionary housing policy by the end of the financial year. This policy will guide municipalities across the province.
National Government budget priorities:
We have committed to all this at a time when the Western Cape Government’s budgets over the medium term are likely to be cut by the same amount or more than is going to be funneled into the black hole which is SAA. Over R10 billion is going to be taken out of the mouths of the poor to pay for our failed state airline.
We don’t need SAA, when there are so many airlines who fly cheaper and better, but we do need life-changing and life-saving services like education and healthcare.
We have completed the first Provincial Government Medium Term Expenditure Committee engagements, which are critical discussions with the 13 departments and 9 public entities which share our funding.
Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, will next month table the Western Cape’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement will include adjustments to the budget, especially in light of the necessary Covid-19 expenditure we have incurred and the projected cuts we are expecting to see.
The State of the Province Address that I will deliver to you and the people next year, and the main budget which follows soon thereafter, will then be a key opportunity to lift the sails and to move our government in this new, brave direction.
I have already changed the reporting structure of the extended cabinet to include these new priorities, so I can make sure we land them in our government. This extended cabinet also links up to all district municipalities and the City of Cape Town so we work together to get the job done.
We now eagerly await the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni’s delayed MTBPS, which was meant to take place yesterday. This will provide us the much-needed clarity on just how severe the expected budget cuts are going to be.
The priorities I outlined today will require trade-offs. It will mean that programmes and projects that did make a difference, may not be continued. It will be a trying time for us all. We need strong leadership and the commitment, courage and buy-in of all of our residents, and partners.
We are pursuing new ideas, and a different way of working, in order to make a big impact in a very difficult environment. This will not be easy, and there is a possibility that not all these plans will land.
Being courageous does not mean that mistakes are never made. Rather, being courageous, for me, is the ability to learn from experience, and to try and try again, to make that positive difference. It’s a commitment I make to our residents every single morning of my life.