During my political campaign, and in my State of the Province Address, I made a series of commitments to the people of the Western Cape. Today marks my 100th day in office and we have already started to make real headway on making these commitments a reality.
1) Values driven government
One of my foremost undertakings was to govern with integrity and transparency, to earn the trust of the residents of our province. For too long, politicians in our country have abused their positions of power, diverting much needed service delivery funding from the people, to their own pockets.
That is why I promised to conduct lifestyle audits for myself, and members of my cabinet. These audits will not only take place now, but also near to the end of our term of office, so that we can measure whether any member has lived beyond their means. Shortly after taking office, we all agreed to the audits being conducted, and the procurement process was put in place to find a service provider.
The tender was first advertised in June, however, we did not receive bids in the initial round. As such, we have had to re-advertise the tender. We will make an announcement once we have secured a bidder and the audits will commence. Let me be clear: should these audits reveal that a member has engaged in unlawful activity, I will not hesitate to take action.
A further undertaking was to govern with austerity, spending more on delivering to our people, than on internal services. As a Cabinet, we therefore agreed to and undertook a second review of the Western Cape Ministerial Handbook, which has now been signed off for implementation. Through the original review of the privileges due to members, we were able to record over R100 million in savings.
This second review made further cuts and, unlike previously, where they were classed as guildelines, the handbook makes them policy provisions, thereby limiting potential deviations.
It now makes lifestyle audits for myself and my cabinet members mandatory.
References to chartering of private planes and the use of domestic workers at official residences have been removed and the handbook also limits the circumstances under which spouses are able to travel with ministers. Should they accompany a member on official or domestic travel, a travel subsistence allowance will no longer be payable to the spouse.
Western Cape ministers will also continue to travel on economy class as far as possible domestically.
We have also retained the provision that our ministerial vehicles should cost no more than 40% of a minister’s annual salary.
These are just some of the ways that we are streamlining spending by the Western Cape provincial executive during these trying economic times, in which the national budget for delivery is shrinking.
2) Creating jobs and economic opportunities
The Western Cape was the only province to grow employment year on year in the latest StatsSA quarterly labour force survey, however, we still have a lot of work to do to accomplish our jobs pledge. The South African economy is in trouble, but in the Western Cape, we are working hard to create an enabling climate for businesses to grow and create jobs.
The Economic War Room has now kicked off its work to identify potential solutions to critical blockages in the economy. The War Room team are currently meeting with stakeholders to map and workshop solutions in the following pilot areas: construction, the BPO Sector, Atlantis and green manufacturing, informal light manufacturing and congestion.
Safety remains our number one priority as it impacts on all our people, on all our areas of work as a government,and on our ability to grow the economy and attract investment.
In my first 100 days, I have met with several community and interest groups to listen to their concerns and the impact of crime on their lives.
We are working on developing a whole of society approach to safety, in which communities, organisations and a linked up government are all participants. We are currently working on an integrated safety plan, the details of which will be revealed soon.
Earlier this year, the City of Cape Town deployed 100 law enforcement officers to Bonteheuwel, where the consistent and visible police presence are having an impact on crime, and has drastically impacted the number of murders in the area. While we are continuing our intergovernmental dispute with National police Minister Bheki Cele over the under-resourcing of our policing service, particularly in poor and black areas, we will be working with the City to further roll out law enforcement into communities which are living in fear.
The Western Cape Government is also trying new things in a bid to tackle issues of crime and safety. A trial in Hanover Park involves numerous interventions to take place over a period of time, which when combined, will have a bigger impact on circumstances in the area. Once we have measured the results, we will develop a plan that can be used in other communities. Globally, we have seen that crime and grime in communities often go hand in hand, and so we will be focusing efforts on cleaning up the area, and ramping up services and access to opportunities at the same time.
As part of the Hanover Park Blitz, we have already ensured that in collaboration with the City of Cape Town, which has worked hand in hand with us on this programme, an additional 300 wheelie bins have been distributed in the area, and a cleanup of graffiti, sidewalks and repainting of rental stock housing are on the cards.
A youth safety march was held last weekend to encourage community participation in making Hanover Park safer. The City of Cape Town has also been conducting regular road blocks, while number plate recognition technology will also be scaled up in the area, and street light bulbs replaced. Working with the community, we have also been able to identify specific infrastructure problem areas which if fixed, could contribute towards making the neighbourhood safer.
4) Open government
On 1 August, we hosted our first Open Government First Thursday event, aimed at making this government more accessible to the people of this province. The second event will be held next week. At the first event, over 800 cases were logged with people who came to us to have questions answered and issues resolved. At the event, we made space available to entrepreneurs to showcase and sell their goods.
We will continue to host these events, with plans in the pipeline to ensure that similar outreach events are held in towns across the province.
I have also committed to a series of meetings between my cabinet and various economic sectors and interest groups. We have already met with agriculture, and in the next two weeks will also be meeting with religious leaders and those working in the area of tech and skills development.
In a bid to communicate the work of the government to the public more effectively, we have also undertaken regular, live social media updates on my weekly diary on Monday mornings and following cabinet meetings. In the interest of being more inclusive, where possible, we also include sign language interpretation for these. Residents of the province are encouraged to follow these updates by following my Facebook page which is ‘Premier Alan Winde’, and my twitter page @alanwinde.
Shortly, I will be making a big announcement in which I will reveal the detailed plans of our five priority areas. I look forward to sharing these with the people of the Western Cape, and to implementing our programme of action in the remaining 1703 days of this term.
We are 100 Days into this term of office, and are excited about the achievements we have made to date to improve service delivery, to reduce spend on frills, and to make our government open and accessible to the people it serves. I cannot stress enough that in return for the work we are putting in, we hope that our residents will join our efforts by playing their part in building this province into a thriving and opportunity-filled place to live.
Let’s get to work!