Media release: The Fierce Urgency of Now - Media summary of #WCSOPA2023
Note to editors: This is a media summary of the 2023 State of the Province Address delivered by Premier Alan Winde at the official opening of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament
16 February 2023
Today Premier Alan Winde had the honour of delivering the annual State of the Province Address. He emphasised the urgency with which the Western Cape Government is addressing the energy crisis.
“As leaders we feel a deep sense of responsibility to our citizens,” the Premier told the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.
Here are some notable extracts of his speech:
We have delivered in previous crises and will deliver again:
In 1963 Martin Luther King Jr said,
“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now…This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
I feel that fierce urgency of now every time I talk to a citizen, a small business owner or a public servant. We are desperate for urgent action today for tomorrow. As the government of the Western Cape, we are delivering a clear difference for our residents now, not plans or platitudes, but recognisable, tangible action.
The Western Cape government team has shown that when we are confronted with situations of extreme stress and crisis we innovate and deliver.
The Energy Crisis:
We are approaching the energy crisis with this fierce urgency of now.
I call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ensure that this new State of Disaster follows some of the simple steps that we took during the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure greater transparency and accountability, such as accountability to parliament. During the pandemic, this parliament established an oversight committee to oversee all COVID-19-related government expenditure and I welcome the Western Cape parliament establishing a similar oversight committee for the energy crisis.
To lead our interventions, I set up the Western Cape Energy Council, when we were at the height of stage 6 rolling blackouts last year. The Energy Council is focused on both the short-term crisis but also the longer term. We are developing an energy plan for the province that informs our short-term responses.
Looking after your most basic needs:
In the Western Cape, our budget decisions are guided by the needs of our residents, and our responsibility as a provincial government. We are stepping in to ensure that the most basic needs of our citizens are protected during these relentless blackouts: our residents are our responsibility. We are making this intervention in the three most basic needs of our citizens: water, WIFI, and health.
Water & health:
As the Western Cape Government, we are making sure that municipalities have the resources to ensure safe drinking water and working sewage infrastructure during rolling blackouts through the release of nearly R89 million rand in emergency funding to municipalities. The money will be used to purchase backup generators for the treatment and supply of water services. Stringent checks and balances are in place to ensure the funds are used transparently, and the funds are being released in accordance with strict guidelines.
WiFi & connectivity:
I have already met with the CEO of Vodacom and Chairman of the Association of Communications & Technology (ACT), to understand exactly what they are doing to ensure connectivity during extended blackouts. And importantly I am also asking them how we can work with them to ensure that our citizens and residents have access to information. During a time of disaster, reliable access to clear, understandable information is as essential to helping citizens make decisions for themselves and their loved ones. It is also for this reason that I am going to be resuming my weekly digicons, which I hosted during the pandemic.
I have requested the provincial treasury to allocate over R1 billion to respond to the energy crisis in the upcoming three-year budget period. This will go towards:
responding to the short-term impact of loadshedding now on government services;
securing diesel to keep essential public services running during loadshedding;
helping buffer schools from loadshedding;
providing poorer households with “power packs” that help reduce the impact of loadshedding on daily tasks;
assisting SMMEs in assessing and implementing alternative energy options.
Renewable energy/green economy push:
The Western Cape government is on a drive to increase energy resilience, not only to mitigate the effects of load shedding and the resulting economic damage but also to highlight the immense potential the power generation sector, specifically the green economy, has in being able to stimulate growth, attract investment and create employment. In December I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with my Northern Cape counterpart, Premier Zamani Saul, at South Africa’s inaugural Green Hydrogen summit, held here in Cape Town.
As the Western Cape Government, we are working with our allies, in the case of GH2, the Northern Cape Government, the Saldanha Industrial Development Zone and international partners, such as the Namibian government, to make optimal use of the potential of green hydrogen.
Municipal Energy Resilience
Another key intervention of this government in addressing the power crisis is the Municipal Energy Resilience plan, a local government-level programme that develops, supports and builds capacity at municipalities across our province to implement renewable energy projects. Across the Western Cape 6 756 PV applications have already been approved by municipalities, with a total capacity of 197 MW.
The rollout of this programme is proceeding very well and is showing results now:
The City of Cape Town:
is the first municipality in SA to offer cash for power;
is already protecting its residents from two levels of loadshedding;
has allocated R132 million to diesel & R25 million for diesel storage;
connected generators to 62 water pump stations, 26 wastewater treatment plans and 110 sewer pumps;
is adding 70MW of solar PV generation to its portfolio, spread across the Atlantis, Athlone and Paardevlei projects;
concluded the first phase of the procurement of 200MW of additional power last year; and
is now putting out a dispatchable energy tender, expected to yield at least 500MW for Cape Town’s grid.
George has a wheeling framework and is running a pilot project through an energy trader to supply power. Through the use of systems work currently underway in partnership with the Western Cape government, further municipal wheeling for other municipalities will soon be enabled;
Mossel Bay is supporting private sector energy from waste technology, as well as how they can enable the use of flare-off from Mossgas and the role that they will play in 3000 MW of gas to energy;
Stellenbosch is working towards procuring energy from Independent Power Producers;
Saldanha is building on its location to become a green hydrogen hub. I am very proud of the collaboration that we are driving between ourselves and the Northern Cape for a green hydrogen corridor, which I will address shortly.
And municipalities across our province, just like Cape Town, are budgeting for diesel. The unfortunate issue is that this money is being diverted from critical municipal services due to a national government failure and inability to act.
While this province is showing the fierce urgency of now, and putting more megawatts onto the grid, national is government is adding more ministers.
As we establish the Infrastructure Department, the aim is to further prioritise the importance of developing and maintaining critical infrastructure in our province, both as a means to ensure our roads, bridges, sewerage systems, and other development projects, are of a high quality and safe to use. It is noteworthy that Cape Town now spends more money on infrastructure than Johannesburg.
Some key WCG infrastructures projects include:
the upgrading of Refinery Interchange on the N7 currently underway,
the construction of a by-pass linking TR02101 and TR02501 including an interchange around Malmesbury,
the Stanford to Gansbaai rehabilitation, as well as
the Calitzdorp to Oudtshoorn rehabilitation of District Road 1688.
Covid-19 dealt a severe blow to our education system. But since our learners and teachers returned to class full-time, we have ably diminished the impact of learning and teaching losses.
Our education community rolled up its sleeves and dug deep to claw back the time lost in class and expand the province’s schooling environment. Once more, our investment in infrastructure has proved to be essential.
Through our unprecedented school infrastructure initiative, the Rapid School Build Programme, 842 new classrooms were delivered this year of which 662 classrooms have already been completed.
For the year ahead, the province has committed to creating 9395 housing opportunities.
Our Help Me Buy a Home initiative is a growing success. We exceeded the programme’s target to deliver 2 000 units this year. We delivered 2074 units through this programme. In August, I was privileged to share in the joy of beneficiaries who moved into their brand-new homes at the De Hoop housing project in Malmesbury. The first phase of this initiative delivered 395 houses at a cost of R56 million. It will eventually create 3 468 housing opportunities.
Construction has also commenced at the Goodwood station initiative consisting of 1055 units.
We have delivered 394 social housing opportunities. Among the projects are:
Maitland Mews with 204 units;
Regent Villas with 60 units;
Conradie Park Phase 1 with 130 units, with the whole of the Conradie Park development delivering 3 500 units in total.
We are continuously expanding health services to meet the needs of a growing population:
the Gansbaai Clinic has been upgraded;
a new day clinic was built in Laingsburg;
the new Observatory Forensic Pathology Institute is nearing completion;
phase 1 of a new Emergency Centre at Victoria Hospital has been completed;
new acute psychiatric wards have been completed in Hermanus and Bredasdorp; and
the new casualty centre at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s hospital would not be possible without the work of their powerful fundraising team.
The redevelopment of the Tygerberg Hospital – the biggest hospital in the Western Cape and the second biggest hospital in South Africa - is making steady progress through the its public-private sector partnership; and the Klipfontein regional hospital which is deemed a crucial megaproject is at the conceptual and professional services phase.
The Western Cape is a construction site:
We are creating more jobs in our province through infrastructure development – a critical economic lever.
The Western Cape continues to lead the country in the value of buildings that have been completed over the past year.
This is an important metric for job creation and shows solid confidence in our economy. In 2022, 27% more building plans were passed in the province as compared to the previous year. The Western Cape recorded R25 billion worth of completed buildings between January and November last year. This represents 40% of the total value of buildings in South Africa completed over this period.
Between January and August 2022, the value of buildings completed in the Western Cape was R19.6 billion, representing a year-on-year growth rate of 42.1%, compared to R13.2 billion in Gauteng, with a year-on-year growth rate of 8.7%.
Over the same period, the value of building plans passed in the province totalled R24.29 billion, representing a year-on-year growth rate of 25.2%, compared to R23.3 billion in Gauteng, with a negative year-on-year growth rate of -1.9%.
Growth For Jobs:
Thank you to our colleagues in the provincial government who have been hard at work on “Our Growth For Jobs” strategy which gives expression to this government’s radical drive to drastically reduce unemployment, achieve breakout growth and offer our residents meaningful opportunities to prosper. Our Growth For Jobs strategy is now in the process of external consultation with key stakeholders with the aim of finalising it by the end of March this year. This plan sets out a comprehensive and ambitious goal for the Western Cape of growing the provincial economy by between 4 and 6% by 2035. The goal is to fuel and stimulate economic growth to achieve a R1 trillion provincial GDP target by 2035. This would require an annual average growth of 3.8% until 2035, translating into 600 000 new jobs.
There are encouraging signs the province’s economy is rebounding. Take our tourism sector, among the hardest hit by COVID-19 through the shutting down of air travel. It is now making an encouraging recovery.
In December Cape Town International Airport recorded a spectacular 96% recovery in international 2-way passenger numbers when compared to December 2019.
South Africans also jumped at the chance to travel again. The domestic terminal, for the same month, saw a solid 72% recovery when compared to 2019. This brought the 2-way passenger numbers for the airport to over 7, 2 million in 2022.
While the Western Cape’s employment figures are better than the rest of the country, more must be done to enable job growth.
We should be especially concerned over youth unemployment. To bolster our Safety plan, the Department of Social Development is on track to assist 1 8000 families with family preservation services and over 3 000 parents through parenting programmes.
Another intervention offered to young people, particularly those at-risk youths, is the Chrysalis Academy. For its current women’s course, which commenced on the 14th of January, it received close to 2190 applications for 230 places. On 9 January 2023, the academy launched its first ever community-based holistic programme in Atlantis. It is a pilot programme and will be run over 8 weeks for 26 Atlantis youth.
The province’s agriculture sector is a “wealth creator”, contributing to our growth and job creation. After significant work, led by this department and others, I was pleased to see the Brandvlei dam feeder canal project finally opened on Friday last week. I look forward to the Clanwilliam dam project also finally being concluded by the national department.
For the current financial year, our Agriculture Department has assisted in growing 2 692 household food gardens, 185 community projects, and 28 school food gardens, at a cost of R16 million.
Our plan in the coming year is to support 3 000 household food gardens each year over the medium-term, as well as 85 community and school food gardens out of an annual budget of R32m.
Crime & safety:
Since its inception, the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) has been a resounding success. This initiative has seen over 1200 women and men recruited, trained, and deployed to communities that have been struggling with high crime rates, specifically murders. As with our COVID-19 response, all our efforts to address the complexities of crime are data-led and evidence-based.
In all other provinces, murder figures are devastating. The devastating figures also reveal that the only province to show an improvement is the Western Cape. This is due to the introduction of our LEAP officers in murder hotspot areas. Breaking the figures down further we can see that there was an 8,2% reduction in the murder rate for the 1st quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, where LEAP officers are operational.
Through our solid partnership with the City of Cape Town, LEAP managed to sustain its successes in pushing down murders in the second quarter of 2022/23.
Murder decreased in various areas where LEAP members are deployed in the second quarter of 2022 when compared with statistics from the same period the previous year:
Not only is the SAPS in the Western Cape woefully under-resourced, but there is also disturbing evidence that some in the service have been “captured” by gangs. A High Court judgment delivered last year confirms what many of us have long suspected: gangsters have infiltrated the police service in the Western Cape. The very people tasked with keeping our residents safe are themselves part of the problem.
I tasked the Western Cape Police Ombudsman to investigate the matter. The Ombud’s report has been finalised, and I would like to report on the next two key steps I am taking:
I am now in the process of establishing a panel of eminent persons to make specific recommendations as to how we should respond to this cancer which has infected so much of our policing; and
as a start to ensure that our crime-fighting leadership is untarnished by the proceeds of crime, the provincial government will be funding lifestyle audits of the major generals involved in crime-fighting in this province.
Gender-based violence and Femicide: Stop the cycle:
We recently launched our campaign against gender-based violence in Khayelitsha. It focuses on the issue of ending the cycle of violence, specifically on how in the majority of gender-based violence cases boys who witnessed or were themselves abused go on to perpetuate violence and the cycle of abuse into adulthood. I hope the campaign will lead to behavioural changes among men and boys.
The province of hope:
You, the citizens, the people of this extraordinary province are at the centre of everything we do, working today for tomorrow. This government is “citizen obsessed”: we are obsessed with doing our best for the people to ensure all of our citizens can find the dignity and well-being they deserve.
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the Premier
Cell: 083 627 7246