Western Cape Premier Alan Winde today met with the diplomatic and consular corps to outline his focus on the economy, safety and transport over the next five years, and to respond to last night’s State of the Nation Address.
The event, held at the Cape Sun, allowed the Western Cape Government to meet with the consular and diplomatic representatives of many of the countries with which South Africa and the Western Cape have international and trade relationships.
Focusing on three main points in the SONA speech, Premier Winde welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stance that the Reserve Bank must remain independent.
“Reaffirming the Constitutional mandate of the Reserve Bank and its independence is important for creating certainty and is a positive signal to ratings agencies and investors.”
On the issue of land reform, Premier Winde welcomed the commitment by the President to unlock government owned land for housing and agricultural use, and the continued prioritization of funding for black farmers. He also welcomed the President’s reiteration of private property rights as espoused in the Constitution.
Premier Winde said he shared President Ramaphosa’s sentiment that Eskom cannot be allowed to fail, but said he was disappointed that he had not used the opportunity to make announcements on enabling alternative energy and Independent Power Producers.
“The President had an opportunity to go further by making commitments to alternative energy. In the Western Cape, we have focused on growing the uptake of solar PV, and it is now possible to produce your own solar energy in 22 municipalities, 18 of which also allow users to feed energy back into the grid for compensation. We in the Western Cape will continue to push for alternative energy because the current energy risk is a major risk to investment and to our economy.”
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, said that the economic constraints detailed in the State of the Nation Address “will make it difficult, but by no means impossible, to drive economic growth and job creation in the Western Cape.”
He said he was committed to growing investment by “smashing the road blocks to doing business in the province”, by reducing systemic red tape.
Outlining his plans for the five-year term, Premier Winde said his focus was to immediately “get to work” on building the economy and creating an environment for investment and job creation. Also on his list of priorities is a focus on safety and security, transport and driving innovation and partnerships in key areas like health and education.
“Our people need to be safe, and we need to be safe for visitors and investors to come here and invest and trade. I am pleased that in the past week, we have started to see the relationship with the national government improve, and I’m hoping that through partnerships with all levels of government and the private sector we can work together to make our province safer. There is a lot of technology and innovation around safety that we can use to improve safety here,” he said.
Premier Winde said there was also opportunity for partnership in the area of transport.
“Specifically, we need to get our trains functional. The train system is holding our poorest people captive. There was a time when 650 000 people were using the train daily, and that has now diminished to 200 000 because the system is so unreliable. The government must focus on getting the basics right in this and other core areas, such as education and healthcare,” he said.