We have put clear deadlines in place to push forward with SOPA commitments
Media Release by Premier Winde: The Western Cape Government has put clear deadlines in place to push forward with our bold State of the Province Address’ commitments
During Questions-to-the-Premier in a parliamentary sitting today, I had the opportunity to provide feedback to members on the commitments I expressed during my State of the Province Address earlier this year.
One of these commitments was the institutional ‘refresh’ of the Western Cape Government, motivated by the need to realise our ‘north star’ priorities of delivering jobs, safety and wellbeing, whilst embracing the many lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic which have shown us the new, more modern way of work.
As I said in my SOPA, we cannot go back to normal. The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that we can be bold, do more with less, while being agile, and innovative. We must focus and push forward, so that we do even better than before.
On 23 March 2022, a submission was approved by the provincial cabinet that sets in motion the bold announcements I made in Velddrif, including our scaled up focus on police oversight through the renamed Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety, the establishment of a first-of-its-kind Violence Prevention Unit within the Department of Health, and the establishment of the Departments of Infrastructure and Mobility, respectively.
In the submission, a decision to also rename the Department of Health to the Department of Health and Wellness was also tabled, which gives life to the critical “whole-of-society” life-journey approach that this department is championing to realise the well-being of our residents.
In terms of this approved submission, we are following a thorough process which should enable us to have fully functioning departments, with budgets in place, by the start of the 2023/24 financial year.
Within this year, we are engaging with staff members in related Departments and programmes to ensure a smooth transition. This includes engagements with trade unions, who we view as an important stakeholder in this process. We will also be working on the physical creation of the departments, which involves a number of regulatory and practical steps, and on the transfer of functions. Following this, we will work with our staff members and unions on a matching and placing exercise, with an emphasis on creating opportunities for training and capacity building initiatives which will enable our staff to perform at their optimum. Finally, the budgets of the new departments and their annual performance plans will be set, and staff members will move to their new environments. By 1 April 2023, the start of the new financial year, we hope to have fully completed our institutional refresh. It is important to note that we take change management and the views of our staff and their representative bodies extremely seriously, and are following all the mandated processes to achieve this.
Practically, these changes will include:
- A new Department of Infrastructure: A new Department of Infrastructure, responsible for infrastructure-related investment strategies and frameworks and aspects of infrastructure delivery, will be established through the merger of the Department of Human Settlements and specific components of the Department of Transport and Public Works. It will include future planning for infrastructure and dedicated capabilities to lead and think differently.
- A new Department of Mobility: This will include transport programmes, such as financial support for bus services, Transport Operations, and the Transport Regulation mandate. This Department will focus on finding specific and innovative strategies to improve mobility in the Western Cape, especially in the greater Cape Town area, given the very serious failings of Metrorail in the province. The Department will be the lead department, working to find solutions with local governments, the national Department of Transport, and PRASA, in creating a single metropolitan transport authority for the greater Cape Town region.
- Renaming the Department of Community Safety to the Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety: The Department will be renamed according to its Constitutional Mandate of conducting oversight of policing. There will be an increased focus on conducting oversight both locally and nationally. Data-led and evidence-based monitoring of police stations in the province will be expanded, with a focus on gender-based violence, domestic violence, police conduct, visible policing and crime investigation efficiency.
- Implementing a Violence Prevention Unit within the Department of Health: The Department of Health is best placed to house this unit because it has Emergency Centre, Medial Services and Services and Forensic Pathology Services data from across the Province that enables it to identify exactly when, where and how it takes place. The Department can also track data that can promote a better understanding of violence. This data can be used for intelligence, informing localised interventions to fighting crime. Planning for the establishment of this unit is well underway, with R43 million committed to violence prevention over the medium term.
- Renaming of the Department of Health to the Department of Health and Wellness: Guided by the Department’s Health Care 2030 vision or ‘Road to Wellness’, the Department will be increasing its focus on wellbeing. The name change will make the focus on wellness more explicit and consistent. It creates the opportunity for a structured and shared societal goal of response to wellness. This is a new proposal, in addition to what was announced during my SOPA.
In the main budget announced last month, my commitment to significantly increase infrastructure spending over the medium-term was realised. As announced in this budget, we now expect:
- spending on existing infrastructure assets to increase over the medium term on average by 4.8%;
- spending on new infrastructure assets to increase over the medium term on average by 54.2%; and
- spending on infrastructure assets as a whole to increase over the medium term on average by 6.1% in the Western Cape.
We know that we have to fight the second pandemic of joblessness and create hope for our people by creating an enabling environment for the private sector to create the jobs our province needs.
As we move forward, this Provincial Government remains committed to its values of being a caring, competent, innovative, responsive, and accountable government that acts with integrity. We are also committed to embrace the lessons learnt over the last two years to transform and improve ourselves.
The bottom line is that we cannot go back to normal. We have to instead push forward, and do even better than before, so that residents of the Western Cape have access to jobs, feel safe and live long, happy and healthy lives, with the dignity they deserve.