Speeches

2013 State of the Province Address by Premier Helen Zille

22 February 2013

The Honourable Speaker

Honourable members of the Provincial Cabinet

The Honourable Mayor of Cape town

The Honourable leader of the Opposition

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Honourableleaders of political parties

Honourablemembers of the Provincial Legislature

Director General of the Western Cape

Heads of Provincial Departments

Leaders of Local government

Religious leaders

Community leaders

Colleagues and friends and

Most important:  all citizens of the Western Cape

Welcome to everyone here today. Namkelekile nonke apha namhlanje. ‘n Hartlike warm welkom aan almal hier vandag.

Speaker, Thank you for this opportunity to report back  on the progress we are making towards our goal of ensuring that every citizen in this province has real opportunities to use their freedom to live a life they value.  Many challenges remain, but as long as we progress every day, as far and as fast as possible, we will achieve our objectives.

I would like to welcome two special guests to the House today - Dr Cleve Robertson, Director of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Mr Phumzile Papu, the Provincial Ambulance Chief who manage 1,522 emergency medical staff across the province.  Today we pay tribute to every member of the EMS team.  Every day you save people’s lives by freeing them from the mangled wrecks of motor vehicles, or lifting them off one of our mountains, or simply getting them to a hospital in time.  This year, the extraordinary skills of our divers, Mr Fabian Higgins and Mr Elvin Stoffels, saved the lives of people trapped in freezing water underneath the overturned Miroshga. Working against time, in bad weather conditions, and in circumstances where no conventional methods could be used, they managed to get most passengers out alive.

For our EMS colleagues, heroism is a daily routine.  That is why I speak for everyone in this House when I say we are greatly disturbed by the increasing number of attacks and muggings of EMS members on duty. Something is seriously wrong when the people who give of themselves so selflessly to save the lives of others are targeted by criminals while they are doing so. Every citizen in this province has a duty to ensure the safety of EMS members so that this extraordinary service can continue across our Province.

Speaker, all of us in this House today share a deep sense of horror at the series of brutal rapes and murders in recent weeks, symbolised by a crime so depraved that there are no appropriate words to describe it.   As we piece together the tragic story of Anene Booysen’s short life, and the background of her alleged killers, we see the all-too-familiar strands of a web in which so many young lives are trapped:  absent parents, dysfunctional families, drug and alcohol abuse, school drop-outs.  Most of these elements are present in all these tragic cases. 

Yes, the state has a crucial role to play in combatting these social ills and in protecting our young people.  But it is impossible to resolve any of them without everyone playing a role:  individuals through the choices they make, parents through the responsibility they take and the guidance they give, whole communities through the norms they establish, institutions like churches and schools in the leadership they provide, as well as the services offered by the state.  That is why we speak of a “whole-of-society” approach.  It is the only way in which we can tackle our many challenges.

At a time like this, it is important to remember that for every young person who succumbs to their dreadful life circumstances, there are many others who through perseverance, discipline and hard work, manage to overcome them.  That is why it is a particular pleasure to welcome three young entrepreneurs in the House today who symbolise why we should all be optimistic about South Africa’s future.  Mr Wongama Baleni, Vuyile Msaku and Vusumzi Mamile.  They are role models.  They have walked the talk, and taken the pathway out of poverty   --  a pathway we want to create for all our young people. 

This is why 76% of our annual budget is directed towards opening opportunities for people in poor communities, through education, health services, housing and social development programmes.

The result of our commitment was reflected in the 2011 census which showed the Western Cape leading the way in basic service delivery.  99.1% of households have access to piped water, 93.4% to electricity and 96.9% have toilet facilities.

We are, of course, aiming for 100%, but this will take time to achieve, given the rate of in-migration to this province.  The census revealed that the Province’s population grew by almost 30% between 2001 and 2011.  During this period, our population increased by 1,3-million people.  Yet, not only did we keep up with levels of basic service delivery, we significantly exceeded the delivery levels of 2001.  That is impressive by any standards, and I wish to commend the dedicated professionals under successive administrations who made this possible.

Speaker, the past year was notable for another important development:  the tabling of the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030 in the National Parliament on 15 August last year.  It is a well-articulated vision of our “better together” philosophy.  Never before has South Africa had a national plan to which all major parties subscribe. This is a milestone for our country. We agree that to tackle our many problems and the legacy of the past, we need good leadership at every level of society; a capable state; and an active citizenry.

I have said it before and I say it again: in the Western Cape we are prepared to play our part in making the National Development Plan work because we want South Africa to work.  This Cabinet agrees with Minister Trevor Manuel that the time for discussing the plan is over, the time for implementation has begun.  We have been chosen by the National Government to pilot three crucial initiatives under the NDP:  the reduction of red tape; the creation of an Economic Development Partnership to facilitate growth and jobs, and an afterschool programme to keep young people involved in productive activities in the afternoons. We have added a fourth component:  we will expand our version of the Youth Wage Subsidy to give more young people a foothold on the ladder of our economy so that they can build their careers and move out of poverty.

All these initiatives are rooted in the NDP’s understanding that a government is not a job-creation agency, least of all for dispensing political patronage.  When it comes to the crucial task of job creation, the state must establish an enabling environment that attracts investors who start businesses that create jobs.  Part of that enabling environment is policy certainty, good infrastructure, and an educated and skilled population.  That is what attracts entrepreneurs.  And that is where people like Wongama, Vuyile and Vusumzi, who I welcomed earlier on, come in.

Just as the ghastly murder of Anene Booysens reflected the confluence of so many strands of societal malfunction, their story represents the precise opposite.

They opened a coffee shop last July, called the Department of Coffee in a newly developed precinct in Harare, Khayelitsha.  The City and Province, with additional funding from the German Development Bank, established the right environment, through the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading” programme, implemented by outstanding professionals, with the involvement of the local community.

An innovative non-profit organisation called “Connect Community Development” linked the young entrepreneurs with a private investment vehicle that goes under the delightfully ironic name of the “Ministry of Service Delivery” that provided start-up funding as well as training and support.  As a result, three young vision-led entrepreneurs are in business, on the road to escaping poverty and the legacy of our past.

The coffee shop has flourished, making daily deliveries to the nearby Khayelitsha Magistrates Court, Hospital and shopping mall. It has also hosted two open days where other traders in the area had the opportunity to sell their products to customers who arrived in droves from all over Cape Town.

That is the “better together” philosophy in action.

We must make it possible for this example to be replicated many times over.

That is why our Red Tape Reduction Unit is helping to create an enabling environment for new businesses. Of the 921 administrative bottle necks reported since August 2011, 89.3% have been successfully cleared.

To speed things up further, we are working with municipalities such as the Cape Winelands district to determine which regulations and by-laws are hindering economic development. We are also developing a “best practice” process map to streamline the approval of building plans in municipalities across the province.  We have substantially reduced the backlog of planning applications in order to get the balance right between protecting our precious environment, and encouraging development that creates jobs. 

However, we recognise that much more needs to be done before we can say that Western Cape ranks highly when it comes to ease of doing business. We have established a joint task team to introduce regulatory impact assessments (RIA’s).  If we find that certain regulations are deterring investment and economic growth opportunities we will look at ways to remove or amend them.

Our Minister for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, who himself has run a range of small businesses, knows exactly what needs to be done to make it easier for new entrants to this challenging space.  That is why he established the Partnership Network which offers a full range of support services to new entrepreneurs.  The partnership has brought together three small business support providers to ease access to training, departmental programmes and incentives from the Department of Trade and Industries.  These providers are the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA); the Business Place that operates in Philippi, Cape Town CBD and Khayelitsha; and the West Coast Business Development Centre.

We have also provided start-up funding to rural and urban SMME’s through our newly established Enterprise Development Fund. During the pilot phase R1.7 million was disbursed to help finance new businesses.  Mr Solani Lidzhade is one of the beneficiaries of this programme. He started an IT company in Bellville called Mukoni Software that offers software development consultancy services to its clients. His business won the SAB Kick Start Company of the Year award in 2011.

Behind every successful business is an innovator with the self-belief to take the necessary risks to start an enterprise, and the discipline to sustain and grow it. But even the best talent needs the skills and capital to use their opportunity.

This is why we have invested R442.5 million in skills development programmes; and provided more than 5 500 bursaries during the 2012/2013 financial year.

The highly successful Masakh’iSizwe programme has provided 220 bursaries in the engineering and built environment sector in partnership with 14 companies who have supported the programme with funding and placement opportunities. We intend to extend this bursary scheme to the water sector, where the need for engineering, chemistry and technical skills is enormous, particularly in our municipalities.

The Premier’s Advancement of Youth (PAY) project also kicked off last year. This apprenticeship programme has so far given 750 young people ‘on the job’ training through working in a government department for a year. Another 750 interns will be starting the programme in April. Many of them were offered permanent jobs after completing their internships. They used their opportunities to kick start their careers.

ThembakaziNgada is one of them, and I welcome her here today. Thembakazi is blind and lives in Khayelitsha. Her sister is autistic and needs the constant care of her mother, leaving her father as the family’s sole breadwinner.

For her internship, Thembakazi was placed at the Athlone School for the Blind, where she is assisting grade three learners to learn to read in Braille. 

The PAY project has provided Thembakazi with practical work experience in the field of teaching learners with special needs, which will assist her to develop her career in this crucial field. 

We have also continued to expand our Work and Skills Programme, which is our version of the Youth Wage Subsidy, and which has been running since August 2009.

This programme provides learning and work placement opportunities to unemployed youth between the ages of 18 and 35 in a range of sectors. 2 810 job opportunities have been provided so far with 60% of participants having been offered permanent jobs once they completed the programme. Here again, we see young people recognising their opportunities and using them to change their lives.

This programme is proof of what can be achieved when businesses are incentivised to employ young people. I am pleased to announce today that the Development Bank of South Africa has granted R64 million from its Jobs Fund to build this programme.

This will support the creation of 1,000 new work opportunities for young people each year over three years.  That is 3,000 in all.  Now it is up to each of the young people who get this opportunity to use it, and make an enormous effort to build a career and advance in life. That is freedom you must use.

Mr Speaker, last year I announced a game changing infrastructure agenda aimed at attracting investment and creating jobs.

We are on track with the roll-out of our broadband project.

70% of Provincial government buildings, rural libraries and schools will be connected by the end of 2014 as we lay the foundation for every citizen in every town and village to have access to affordable high speed broadband.

The feasibility and design study for the Wireless Mesh project in Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Saldanha Bay will also be finalised by the end of next month. Once we have implemented this project, by the end of 2014, these areas will become wireless internet hotspots.  People living and working there will have access to the internet without having to be connected to a modem or a digital subscriber line. Thousands of people will experience for the first time, what it means to live in a connected, open, opportunity society.

Another catalytic project is the Saldahna Industrial Development Zone (IDZ), which will be designated by the National Department of Trade and Industry in the next few months, enabling work on the establishment of the facility to begin.  At last.

A key project in the IDZ is the development of an oil and gas servicing hub. Of the scores of oil rigs that pass the West Coast of Africa, just six docked in Saldahna and Cape Town last year for maintenance and servicing. This is an enormous opportunity lost.

It is estimated that an eight week stay by an oil rig is worth R200 million and 2,000 job opportunities. The IDZ will significantly increase the capacity of the port to receive many more rigs that create thousands of new jobs.

The Western Cape Government has also introduced a number of initiatives to support the training of artisans who will be needed once the establishment of the Saldahna IDZ has been completed. For example, we are working in collaboration with the National Artisan Moderation Body on a pilot project, which will recognise the prior learning of many workers who perform the work of artisans without formal qualifications. We have also supported more than 500 people in artisan development programmes during the past year.

Turning the Western Cape into SA’s Green Economy Hub is another priority.  We congratulate the national government for achieving an important milestone in the roll-out of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Programme, by achieving financial closure for the first round of projects, with round two expected to be concluded shortly.

Investment in the Western Cape for these first two rounds is estimated at R7.5 billion. Our government is committed to doing everything it can to ensure that wind farms are developed without unnecessary logistical and regulatory hitches. We are therefore appealing to developers to engage with us on any problems they encounter so that we can ensure the efficient roll-out of these farms across the province.

Our province is also the home to South Africa’s solar manufacturers, and we have welcomed new investment to support the renewable energy industry including the recent establishment of plants by AEG and Enertronica for the manufacture of inverters.

Mr Speaker, we have prioritised the Green Economy in our budget framework and we are finalising our Green Economy Strategic Framework for the next few years.

The Business Process Outsourcing sector is also particularly important because of its high growth potential and the employment opportunities it offers young people. The Western Cape is now the BPO centre of South Africa, and we were thrilled to be voted the UK Destination of the Year for BPO offshoring.

Growth in this sector has been nothing short of spectacular. It contributed R8.6 billion to the Provincial GDP, a growth of 52% between 2011/12 and 2012/2013. The sector has also provided 38 000 jobs of which 8 640 were created by international companies. A further 10 000 new off-shore jobs are expected over the next three years.

As Cape Town prepares for World Design Capital 2014, it is also important to grasp this opportunity to stimulate growth in the design sector, which has the potential to provide a major source of employment for young, dynamic and creative people.  We want to replicate the model of Silicon Cape, that amazing network of young IT boffs, who are turning Cape Town into the Silicon Valley of Africa, and attracting the interest and investment of Angel Investors worldwide.

A great example of our whole-of-society approach is the Economic Development Partnership (EDP). The board of the EDP was appointed last year and consists of a diverse group of individuals from a range of different fields.

The partnership spearheaded a new economic vision for the whole province called One Cape 2040, which the Provincial Cabinet has supported. The EDP is now designing a Western Cape Performance Index to benchmark us internationally and track our performance against this vision. 

Mr Speaker, a key sector in our provincial economy is agriculture.

While the Western Cape economy as a whole accounted for 14,2% of the national economy in 2010, our agricultural sector accounted for 23,2%.  80% of South Africa’s black farmers in the deciduous fruit industry are in the Western Cape.  Our land reform model is the only one that has succeeded anywhere in South Africa.   Indeed it is the model upon which the National Development Plan’s proposals are based.

Farming is one of the few remaining sectors in our economy able to absorb unskilled labour.  Our farmers have traditionally paid above the minimum wage set by the national Minister of Labour.  For example, in De Doorns before the recent strike, the average cost-to-company remuneration for seasonal workers was R100 per worker per day.  That is one of the reasons that so many seasonal workers have traditionally sought work in the Western Cape from countries such as Zimbabwe and Lesotho, and other Provinces, particularly the Eastern Cape.  We welcome the national department of Home Affairs’ recently initiated survey into the migration of farm labour, which will reveal many of the underlying challenges that gave rise to the tragic conflicts that unfolded in December and January.

There is a particularly tragic irony in the fact that farm workers leave the most fertile agricultural regions in the sub-continent, from our Eastern Seaboard to our northern neighbours, to seek work on the stony mountain slopes of De Doorns.  As the National Development Plan notes, the key target of land reform must be to address the legacy that has left 30% of South Africa’s most fertile land unproductive, under tribal tenure.   The number of commercial farmers in South Africa has decreased from 120,000 in 1994  to 37,000 today.  Those that remain viable without the subsidies accorded to their international competitors, are a precious resource that we must sustain for food security.  Farming is also one of the last remaining sectors able to absorb unskilled labour, a feature that is at risk of changing with increasing mechanisation.

We are anticipating significant job losses in the agricultural sector, which will be a major setback for this Province.  That is why 44% of participants in our “Work and Skills” programme are drawn from rural areas.  And that is why we are doing so much to promote South African wine and fruit in new markets such as China and Africa.  We have also sourced R265-million from other government departments for rural development projects in seven areas such as Murraysburg, Villiersdorp, Matzikamma, Witzenberg, Dysselsdorp and Bitou.  This investment has created 1,636 job opportunities and 2,905 skills training opportunities.

Mr Speaker, in 2009 we inherited an education system that was entrenching the social inequalities of apartheid.

The number of underperforming schools in the province had increased from 36 in 2006 to 85 in 2009. The matric pass rate was at an all-time low.

We acknowledged that there was no quick fix. Only a sustained, focused and systemic approach will address the legacy of our past.

Our plan prioritises improving the quality of education available to all learners.

Around 80% of our budget allocation to items including textbooks, stationery, learner transport and feeding schemes go to the poorest 60% of our learners. We have increased the amount allocated to the education department’s feeding scheme by more than 100% since 2009 and feed approximately 365 300 learners in our poorest schools (National Quintile 1 to 3) and 63 175 of the poorest learners in our Quintile 4 and 5 schools every day.

We have also expanded the number of  “no fee” schools which benefit just under 370 000 learners and last year we paid out over R30 million to 650 schools that applied for fee compensation, which is the highest in the country. 

We have also prioritised the allocation of educator posts to poorer schools by top slicing the maximum allowable 5% of posts totalling around R500 million and diverting this to public schools serving poorer communities.

In October last year, 250 000 Grade 3, 6 and 9 learners from 1421 schools took part in our mathematics and literacy tests. We are the only provincial government to implement these independently administered and internationally benchmarked tests which assist us identifying schools where remedial action is needed. There was an improvement in every Grade for both language and mathematics with the Grade 3 numeracy pass rate increasing by 50%;

The department also piloted the School Improvement Plan (SIPS) online management tool. SIPS requires all principals to submit and update information necessary for effective planning purposes.  It has also introduced accountability in the education system by requiring schools to set targets for improvements for each grade; to provide information on absentee rates for learners and educators; and the number of learners repeating a year;

A new infrastructure plan was launched for the 2013/2014 to 2015/2016 period, which will result in 26 new schools and 46 replacement schools being built as well as 124 Grade R classrooms. Under the new plan, 420 schools will also receive maintenance and refurbishment over the next three years. This is over and above the 26 new schools and 21 replacement schools and additional classrooms and mobile units delivered between 2010 and April 2013 which has benefited over 57 000 learners.

1.6 million textbooks have also been delivered for the 2013 school year, which is far beyond the national norm.  Therefore, in the last two years, learners have received Maths text books and readers in Grades 1 to 3 and textbooks in every core subject in grades 4, 5, 6 and 12, free of charge.

In order to keep the learner: teacher rate as low as possible in the Foundation Phase, the department has allocated 650 additional educator posts to Grades 1, 2 and 3 since 2009.

While we knew from the outset that turning around the system we inherited was going to take time, we are already seeing progress in a number of areas.

In 2012, we had a record number of 36,992 candidates passing the NSC examinations. This is an increase of 3,846 learners from the previous year and the highest number of passes ever achieved in the province.  And this took place in a context where our matric markers had to pass rigorous tests to ensure that they have the skills and subject knowledge to adequately assess the quality of candidates’ scripts.  We are the only province that has raised the bar for matric markers because we believe a matric pass must remain meaningful.

Most importantly, the quality of NSC examination passes has improved consistently over the last three years.

There has been a steady increase in the number of candidates who achieved access to Bachelor Degree study over the last four years from 14,324 passes in 2009 to 16,319 in 2012. There was also a 2,184 increase in diploma passes between 2011 and 2012.

The mathspass rate has increased from 64.9% in 2009 to a record breaking 73.5% in 2012 and the physical science pass rate from 52.9% to 70.9%.

We also reduce the number of underperforming schools to 26, a reduction of 59 schools since 2009.  We are confident that through our on-going remedial action and support programmes we will meet our target of reducing the number of underperforming schools to zero by the end of 2014.

Mr Speaker, last year I spoke about how our focus on schools in poorer communities is delivering real redress.

I am proud to say that we have continued this trend. Between 2009 and 2012 the pass rate for the schools in Quintiles 1 to 3 increased from 56.9% to 70.9%. The average pass rate for mathsalso increased by 12.2% and by 26.6% for physical science and the number of bachelors passes increased by an incredible 76% over the same period.

This means that 1,099 more learners qualified for an admission to a higher education institution last year compared with 2009.

I would like to thank the principals and educators who have worked so hard to provide young people with a real chance of improving their lives and breaking the cycle of poverty.  Good public schools are the most important institutions in our democracy, which is why I welcome President Zuma’s recent announcement in his State of the Nation Address that a Presidential Remuneration Commission will prioritise teachers.  And that improved remuneration should be linked to accountability for learning outcomes.

Mr Speaker, despite these successes we still face a number of challenges. Our education budget continues to face the ever increasing pressure of growing enrolment numbers each year.  Of all new enrolments this year from Grade 1 to Matric, 44,3% are from the Eastern Cape.  Often these learners are not registered the year before which creates major logistical challenges at the start of a new academic year.

Burglary and vandalism of our schools remain a serious problem, and an indication that too many people still do not adequately appreciate that a functional school is a precious resource. While our Safe Schools Programme has significantly reduced the incidence of violence, theft and vandalism, communities must do much more to help us protect our schools.  24 schools were vandalised during the recent December holidays.   In the past year we have spent R5,2-million fixing vandalised schools, and millions more providing security guards for schools.  This is money that should be going to our core function of education.

There has also been an increase in the disruption of schooling by individuals and groups driving personal agendas.  Most recently, a group led by ANC councillor Andile Lili in Enkanini in Khayelitsha demanded that a new school be built despite all learners having been offered places at schools in the area. Some parents have ignored this and placed their children in an unregistered, illegal “school” that has no learning resources, equipment or educators employed by the education department.

We will not tolerate learners being abused in ongoing campaigns to make this province ungovernable. 

Mr Speaker, no school, no matter how good, can substitute for committed parents.  Parents must play an active role in their children’s education by instilling sound values, and ensuring their children attend school and do their homework.  Parents should also participate in school activities, particularly parents meetings.  They cannot outsource responsibility for raising their children to others.

Speaker, another area where a “whole of society” approach is crucial is our provincial healthcare system.

We have embarked on a number of partnerships aimed at expanding healthcare opportunities to all patients.

Last month, we launched the partnership with the Clicks Group to provide immunisation and family planning services to state patients at Clicks stores.  It will be rolled out across the province.

Patients are able to make an appointment with a nurse at a participating Clicks clinic for vaccines and contraceptives and the stock is provided by the provincial government. Not only will this result in this medication being more widely accessible but it will also shorten queues at primary health care facilities.

This partnership is a first of its kind in the country, and we hope to form similar partnerships with other pharmacy groups in the province.

Last month, we launched the Health Foundation in Stellenbosch. The independent non-profit organisation aims to replicate the work done by the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust across the province by generating funds for the maintenance and upgrading of all health infrastructure.

The state of the art Khayelitsha hospital celebrated its first birthday last month and has already received a number of awards. The hospital’s pharmacy won a gold award for the best functioning pharmacy in the province and has been recognised for having the lowest emergency unit mortality rate in the country.

Last week, Minister Theuns Botha also officially opened the new R33-million Malmesbury Community Day Centre clinic.  A number of other health facilities also opened last year, including the upgraded Grassy Park and TC Newman Day Care Centres and the Oudtshoorn Clinic.

The R500-million Mitchell’s Plain district hospital will also be fully operational soon and will serve over 400 000 people.

Other on-going infrastructure projects include the planned re-construction of GF Jooste Hospital, the construction of the new Du Noon Community Health Care Centre and a R53 million emergency centre at Karl Bremer Hospital.

Improving patient experiences at our health facilities is also a top priority. That is why the health department has been piloting a complaints hotline at eight health facilities across the province over the last five months. During this period 594 complaints were logged with the call centre of which 578 or 97% were resolved. The pilot has been a huge success and we plan to roll out the hotline to all health facilities in the metro during the 2013/2014 financial year.

Mr Speaker, all our health care services prioritise poor communities and 80% of patients receive free services or pay a nominal fee.

We distribute over 100-million condoms every year, an average of 50 condoms per sexually active male across the province.  During the same period we increased Anti Retroviral Treatment provision from 14,370 to 132,279, and brought down the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate to 1,8%, the lowest in the country. 

While our TB rate is still unacceptably high, at 768 cases per 100,000 people, I am pleased to report that we have the highest cure rate in the country at 82%.

But despite all of this, our HIV prevalence rate is a cause for grave concern. 

In 2009 we set a target of reducing HIV prevalence from 16% to 8% by 2014.  We have failed to meet this target.  In fact, the prevalence rate has increased to 18.4% in 2011.  The biggest increase was among woman between the ages of 30 and 39 years.  This is partly a result of in-migration, but primarily the result of our failure to achieve the behaviour change necessary to reduce the incidence of HIV and AIDS.  People continue to have unprotected, inter-generational sex with multiple concurrent partners.  Many women continue to have no say in their sexuality.  Only a “whole of society approach”, including a serious stigma attached to multiple concurrent inter-generational partners and coercive sex, will be able to reverse this trend, which is sick in more ways than one.

Up to 80% of our health budget is spent on preventable conditions, including non-communicable diseases caused by smoking, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity. Since 2000 the province has only been able to reduce the incidence of these conditions by a pitiful 0.3%. We are also struggling to reduce the number of injury related deaths on our roads and in our homes which are caused by alcohol and drug use.

All of these avoidable diseases serve to trap people --  and our society  --  in poverty.  The implications are stark when one considers that the government subsidises each school child by R1,000 per year  --  but some palliative care beds by over R500 per day, and some hospital casualty beds by over R4,000 per day.  Compare this with the R65 per day we pay for fully serviced disability care or R70 per day for orphaned children. Where illnesses can be prevented, we must each take responsibility for doing so, starting with us, right here in this Parliament, going on an eating and exercise regime to bring our weight within normal limits.  Those who continue to live unhealthy life styles must realise they are depriving others of their rights.

Disability has been a particularly neglected field, and that is why we are committed to changing this with a multi-sectoral task team spearheading a strategy for change.

Speaker, in the past few horrific weeks, the media spotlight has rightly focused on the ghastly crimes against women and children in this Province.  That is one of the reasons that we have invested so much more in our Victim Empowerment programme.  In 2009 its budget was R7,8-million.  In the coming year it will more than double, to R17,7-million.

SAPS statistics reveal that 9,153 sexual offences and 2,300 murders were committed in the Western Cape during 2011/2012. The number of drug related crimes also increased from 70,588 reported crimes in 2010/11 to 77,069 and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs increased in the Western Cape to 17,534 cases.

These statistics speak to the growing culture of violence and abuse that threatens our society’s future and entrenches poverty.

And there is no other area in the province where the “whole of society” approach has a more important role to play than in tackling crime and violence.

An essential component is a fully functional criminal justice system that arrests, prosecutes and jails criminals.   That is a national competence.

Provincial governments only have oversight powers, which we have sought to improve and institutionalise.  I have previously spoken in detail about our Community Safety Bill which seeks to define our oversight role and empower the Western Cape Department of Community Safety to implement this function effectively.

The Committee for Community Safety in the provincial legislature has recently concluded public hearings on the Bill and is currently considering the submissions made during this process.

Last August I also established a Commission of Inquiry into allegations of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha and of a breakdown in relations between the community and the police in the area.

My decision to establish this authority was not taken lightly. It followed a request to establish a commission from a group of civil society organisations, represented by the Women's Legal Centre, in November 2011.

This request was prompted by the spate of vigilante killings in the area allegedly because people have lost faith in the ability of the police to bring criminals to justice.

From November 2011 to June 2012, my office corresponded with the Provincial and National Commissioners of Police.  For seven months we received no response except perfunctory acknowledgments of receipt.

Eventually, on the basis of legal advice, I announced the establishment of the Commission.

Sadly, instead of seeing the Commission as an opportunity to work with us to improve policing, the National Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa sought an urgent interim interdict to stop it.  This application was dismissed by the Western Cape High Court.  Despite this, both the Regional Head of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Hishaam Mohamed, and the State Attorney’s office have informed the Commission in writing that neither the Justice Department nor the Police will co-operate with the Commission. That means that they think they are entitled to ignore a High Court ruling, which is quite a remarkable state of affairs.  But, I presume, if the National Prosecuting Authority can be in contempt of a Supreme Court of Appeal order to hand over the RoD on why they withdrew corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, every other state department now also considers themselves immune from court orders.  In any other democracy, this would bring the government down. 

Minister Mthethwa says he will go all the way to the Constitutional Court to challenge both the Commission and the Community Safety Bill.  We are saddened by the fact that he refuses to apply co-operative governance principles to enable us to fulfil our functions to improve policing.  Indeed, we believe his attitude and approach is unconstitutional.  But this will be for the Court to decide.

Some of the other interventions we have introduced as part of our oversight function include:

Developing a database of provincial murder statistics by collating and comparing SAPS crime statistics with data received from mortuaries. This will allow us to work with “real time” murder statistics rather than the retrospective annual crime statistics released by the police. Our database also allows us to focus on crime rates in specific areas which will enable us to be more responsive to local safety needs, and correlate the incidence of crime with other factors, such as the availability of alcohol. The first “shadow” Crime Report was released last September. We plan to publicly release this report every six months, with the aim of eventually releasing quarterly reports.

We have also instituted “watching briefs” at courts to identify systemic failures in the system (such as evidence gathering), with a particular focus on gang-related crimes. Watching briefs are undertaken either by trained legal experts in the department or university postgraduate law students. They attend court cases to observe and report on the proceedings.  These give us a lot of meaningful information  --  such as the time a murder suspect walked free because the investigating officer failed to arrive in court three times in a row; or the occasion where a suspect and a witness were transported to court in the same vehicle,  resulting in the intimidation of the witness who then refused to testify.  We report these to The Western Cape Police Commissioner Arno Lamoer, who otherwise would not know about them, so that he can call the police officers to account.

All our oversight interventions are aimed at supporting the SAPS in delivering more effective and efficient policing in the province and increasing the public’s trust and confidence in the criminal justice system.

Drug and alcohol abuse are the main drivers of violent crime which threatens the future of many of our young people.

A recent survey by the South African Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use revealed that 42% of patients admitted to 21 drug treatment centres in the Western Cape between January and June 2011 were under the age of 25 years and 21% were under 19 years old. 116 patients were aged between 10 and 14 years old. Tik was the leading substance abused by patients followed by alcohol and dagga.

That is why we have increased the number of addiction treatment centres from seven in 2008, to 24 across the Province today.

It is clear that if we hope to tackle violence in our communities we need to ensure our children stay in school up to matric and are kept away from alcohol, drugs and gangs, which fuels violent crime and risky sexual behaviour.

One of the ways we hope to achieve this is by increasing attendance in our MOD programme. We continued to expand this programme last year and now have 181 centres operational across the province, which provide learners with a safe place to learn and to participate in cultural and sport activities after school hours.

The Western Cape Department of Social Development has also introduced a feeding scheme at MOD centres situated in the poorest areas, which provide food to 14 000 children participating in the programme on a daily basis.

We would like to improve voluntary attendance at these centres, and are therefore working with Ideas42, a behavioural change consultancy, to develop incentives that will encourage more learners to attend these centres every day.

We are confident that these programmes coupled with increased random drug testing at schools and expanded early intervention services for children and adolescents will assist in turning the tide against substance abuse and crime in the future.

However, it is critical that parents partner with us to ensure their children are off the streets and are participating in our MOD centre programme.

We would like to thank all citizens who take the time and trouble to become involved in neighbourhood watches and Community Police Forums.  These structures embody our whole of society approach to making communities safer. Over the last three years we have increased our financial support for neighbourhood watches by 265% providing R2,6 million for equipment and R560,000 for training of  members.

We are also continuing to roll out the Western Cape Liquor Act throughout the province. By restricting drinking in residential areas and clamping down on the supply of alcohol to illegal liquor outlets, international experience has shown it is possible to drive down alcohol related crime, deaths and injuries. The Western Cape Liquor Board has been conducting blitzes across the province and imposing heavy fines against owners who aren’t complying with liquor regulations.

We are also working with municipalities, City of Cape Town Law Enforcement and the SAPS to close down illegal liquour outlets.  We have started mapping illegal shebeens in crime hotspot areas to measure the correlation with crime, and take the necessary pre-emptive action. 

Mr Speaker, we have also adopted a zero tolerance approach to drinking and driving.  A total of 71,197 vehicles were stopped at road blocks during the recent festive season, which was a 32% increase compared to the same period the year before.  34 384 drivers were screened for alcohol and 315 were arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence.

Through our various Safely Home interventions, we have also achieved an average 29% reduction in road deaths since 2009. In January, 79 lives were lost on our roads, which is the lowest figure of any month since we launched our Safely Home campaign three and half years ago.

While this is an achievement to be celebrated, we still have a long way to go if we hope to meet our target of halving road deaths from the beginning to the end of our five year term. 

I would like to thank citizens who have taken responsibility for obeying road rules, for staying within the speed limit, for ensuring that everyone in their car is buckled up at all times and for not drinking and driving. Your efforts, in partnership with increased law enforcement, is the reason why we are steadily lowering the loss of life on or roads and is a great example of the “whole of society” approach in action.

Mr Speaker, critical to increasing social cohesion is building integrated and sustainable human settlements.

When we launched our strategy in 2010, we made it clear that with our current budget allocation from National Treasury, we would only be able to build around 15,000 houses a year, which meant it would take 30 years to address the current backlog of 500 000 households (let alone provide for ongoing in-migration). We agree with the National Government that a human settlements plan that only focuses on building top-structures for indigent people excludes millions who cannot afford to access the housing process without some state support.

That is why we have focused on delivering a range of housing opportunities in a way that is most fair considering our limited resources and the rapidly growing demand.

From April 2009 until 31 January 2013 our government has delivered 48 236 top structures and serviced 37 780 sites across the province. We have also run a number of other programmes, which have delivered 7 037  additional housing opportunities. For example, we have spent R166.3 million on bond subsidies for families earning between R3501 and R15 000 a month (and even some who earn below R3,000). 2385 housing opportunities have been delivered under this programme and the demand is growing.  This programme incentives schemes that combine private and public contributions to housing.

R121 million has also been spent on the Extended Enhanced Discount Benefit Scheme, which uses a housing subsidy to write off old housing loans, and which enabled 3911 householders to receive title deeds. Since April 2009, 789 social housing opportunities, including subsidised rentals, have also been provided at a cost of R228.1 million.  A further R714.7 m has been spent on upgrading and renovating existing Community Rental Units. In addition, R129.7 million has been spent on the procurement of land for housing projects, R70.6 million has been spent with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) to ensure that houses built are to high level of quality, and R12.5 million has been spent on repairing previously built RDP houses.

Mr Speaker, a 2011 study indicated that approximately 36% of the 255 000 subsidy beneficiaries since 1994 have not received ownership of their properties. The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements subsequently initiated a Title Deeds Program in order to eradicate this backlog. We have reduced this backlog to 28% by issuing of 20 400 title deeds to individuals who should have previously received them. The empowerment of individuals through land ownership and official title deed transfer is crucial if we want to redress consequences of the 1913 Native Land Act.

We have also continued to prioritise access to clean water and sanitation. By December 2012, the Access to Basic Services program has ensured a further 10 995 people have benefitted from access to clean water, and 8 225 have benefitted from access to sanitation since 2009.

Mr Speaker, there are numerous other interventions that have been introduced by our government to uplift poor communities in our province but time constraints mean I cannot provide more detail about these today.

This includes meeting our target of 83% of residents in the province are within a 25km radius of a Thusong centre, which provide a range of services to communities living away from metropolitan areas. Services available at these centres include: birth registrations and the issuing of ID books, social security grants, TB and HCT testing and family planning and also access to programmes run by the departments of human settlements, labour and agriculture. By the end of the third quarter of 2012/2013 our government will also have rolled out 37 Thusong mobiles that will benefit around 41 840 people.

There is so much more to mention.  But I have spoken for too long already.  It only remains for me to thank my Cabinet colleagues, the Director General, the dedicated professionals across this province, the exceptional colleagues in my own office and all our families who make such sacrifices to enable us to do the work that we do.

They symbolise what we mean when we say “Better Together”.

I thank you.

Media Enquiries: 

Zak Mbhele
Spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille
Tel: 021 483 4584
Cell: 083 600 2349
E-mail: Zak.Mbhele@westerncape.gov.za