Business Meets Cape Cabinet | Western Cape Government

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Business Meets Cape Cabinet

21 September 2010

Good morning to all of you and a very warm welcome to our second 'Business meets Cape Cabinet' engagement.

I have been asked to set out the way forward for the Western Cape government over the next few years. This speech is simultaneously a progress report of what we have been doing for the 16 months since we have been in office and a roadmap of where we want to be by 2014.

I think it is important to begin by expanding on the philosophical framework that underpins all we do. We call it the 'open, opportunity society for all'.

By 'open' we mean a society based on constitutionalism and the rule of law, where individuals are guaranteed rights and where independent institutions protect these rights, and limit and disperse political power.

By 'opportunity' we mean a society where every person is given the chance and the wherewithal to improve their own circumstances, whatever their circumstances may be. Those who use their opportunities and take responsibility can flourish. At the same time, in the opportunity society, the state has a duty to do for people what they cannot be expected to do for themselves.

By 'for all' we mean a society in which all South Africans - regardless of the colour of their skin or the circumstances of their birth - enjoy the same rights and have access to the opportunities they need to improve their lives.

Our aim in government is to put into effect polices and programmes that will bring us closer to an open, opportunity society for all in the province. That is the mandate we have from the voters and it is what they expect us to deliver on.

The Transversal Approach
When we came into office in May last year, we began the process of assessing the work that had been done by those who went before us.

We discovered a mixed bag, with performance varying from department to department. Where there were pockets of excellence, it was usually because a dynamic project manager or leader happened to be in charge. It wasn't because the system encouraged excellent performance at any, let alone every link in the delivery chain.

We also discovered a tendency for departments to work in 'silos' - with little co-ordination between them. This was compounded by a lack of policy coherence across government. Very often, departments were not on the 'same page'. There was also duplication and the inefficiencies that result.

We have therefore changed the entire approach to government - moving from a 'silo' approach to what is referred to in the bureaucratic jargon as a 'transversal approach'. This simply means policy-making and implementation that cuts across the traditional line functions of established Departments.

When we reviewed the work of this government, we concluded that we first needed to work out our priorities for government as a whole before assigning particular projects to particular departments. This is a radical departure from the old approach that relied on each department to say what its priorities were before it acted - usually in a silo - to achieve its own objectives. When strategies were aligned, it was merely coincidence. Most often, there was contradiction and a tendency to incoherence.

So, during the past year, we have spent much effort developing our twelve strategic objectives that I will outline here today. All of them cut across departments, although some are more transversal than others. And all of them are the responsibility of a designated 'lead' minister - even if some elements of the plan to achieve them do not fit squarely into that Minister's assigned portfolio. Each objective is backed by a coherent action plan with targeted outcomes.

Some of them are well into the implementation phase, others are being fine-tuned. Taken together, they are our plan for government. If we achieve them, we will be closer to building an open, opportunity society for all in the Western Cape. And everyone will notice the difference, particularly the poor.

Today I will outline each briefly in turn.

President Barack Obama once said:
"I have always been a strong believer in the power of the free market. I believe that jobs are best created not by government, but by businesses and entrepreneurs willing to take a risk on a good idea. I believe that the role of government is not to disparage wealth, but to expand its reach; not to stifle markets, but to provide the ground rules and level playing field that helps to make those markets more vibrant - and that will allow is to better tap the creative and innovative potential of our people."

We agree. Economic growth - driven by the private sector - is the foundation of all successful development and therefore the best strategy to eradicate poverty. The role of the state is to create an enabling environment for business to thrive in partnership with business people themselves. If we could only get that right, it would make such a difference.

To ensure that we create an investor and growth-friendly environment, we will focus on:

I know that you are all interested in hearing more about our economic development strategy, which is why we have scheduled Minister Winde to take you through the details after my talk.

But I would like to, if I may, just elaborate on one aspect that is close to my heart and I am sure is close to yours too. It is the unnecessary red tape that kills innovation, hampers business and destroys jobs. I am astounded on a daily basis at the bureaucratic hoops that entrepreneurs and investors need to jump through just so that they can, in Barack Obama's words, "take a risk on a good idea."

I have a story recently which demonstrated just how entangled in rules, regulations and procedures our businesses have become.

It was told to me by Mayor Dan Plato who received a letter from the London Mayor, Boris Johnson. Boris told Dan that he had received a call from a British film company who wanted to shoot a multi-million Pound film in Cape Town. But they were being blocked from filming a key scene at the entrance of the civic centre by a junior official who cited a litany of health and safety regulations and denied them permission to film there. The reasons made no sense at all: thousands of people use that same entrance every day. It took the Mayor of London to draw to our attention the extent of the red tape that hampers investment at the most junior levels of government.

It is obvious that cutting red tape is essential if we are to become a more globally competitive province. But we know that we can't do it without the input of those frustrated business people who have found themselves tied up in it. This is why we are going to go out of our way to invite people to tell us about the red tape, in specific case studies, that is stifling their business. And that means all of you here today. We have a good, practical and effective plan, which I will be announcing soon.

Our second strategic objective is to improve education outcomes in the province. This was the first of our plans to be devised and implemented - chiefly because we know how crucial the education system is to achieving our overall aims.

The latest Global Competitive Index issued by the World Bank revealed that the biggest brake on our competitiveness is the state of education and health. Our education system was ranked 130 out of 139 overall, while the quality of mathematics and science education was ranked third last at 137.

The truth is, unless we get our education system right, we simply will not be able to compete with other emerging economies.

I am not going to elaborate on every aspect of our education plan. Minister Grant has done so many times in the media and other forums. But it is worth highlighting how our approach differs from the approach to education in other provinces.

Our approach centres on teacher accountability. We believe there is far too little accountability throughout our education system. This is why we so often fail to measure up to global education benchmarks - particularly in terms literacy and numeracy.

This is why we are introducing performance contracts in order to hold principals and deputy principals accountable for learner outcomes. This will form the basis of a differentiated performance management system. We are determined to move towards a situation where poor performers are managed out of the system, and excellence is rewarded. In teaching, more than any other profession, one size does not fit all.

But we know that accountability is a two-way street. This is why the Minister, Donald Grant, the Head of Department and senior management have performance contracts which are linked to the targets set in our strategic plan.

Our approach includes greater powers to assess teacher performance against provincial and national standards in the classroom, where it counts. That is the crux of the Western Cape Provincial School Education Amendment Bill which we hope will be passed into law by October.

Our third strategic objective is 'increasing access to safe and efficient transport'. Again, this has been well-aired by its champion, Minister Robin Carlisle, so I will not delve too much into the details.

Essentially, it is designed to reduce road congestion by promoting rail freight and encouraging private car users to travel to work by bus or by train instead. We want to use carrots to achieve this before we turn to sticks.

The response to beat congestion in the past was to build more lanes and roads. But international experience has shown that building new roads and adding new lanes simply encourages more cars.

This is why we are not going to build any new major roads for the next four years. Funds earmarked for new roads will instead be invested in public transport.

If we can roll back the infrastructure backlog and make public transport safer, more efficient and cheaper, we will take a big step in geting people out of their cars and onto trains and buses. By 2014, we want to see a significant shift from private to public transport, and from road to rail freight.

The next strategic objective 'increasing wellness' is being driven primarily by the Department of Health under the stewardship of Minister Botha. This plan has not been launched yet, so I will not give away too much of it today.

But I can tell you that our approach to health is a holistic one - it is just as much about preventing disease as it is about treating it. To do this requires what we call a 'whole of society' approach that mobilizes the resources, knowledge, creativity and concern of all role-players - including all three spheres of government, civil society, business and individual citizens.

We are currently working on our Healthcare 2020 vision which will include all the elements to fight disease and the causes of disease. Watch this space for further details.

Like health and education, the high incidence of crime in our country was cited as a key impediment to South Africa's growth in the Global Competitiveness Index. This confirms what we already know: unless we reduce crime, we will not be able to build the society we envisage in the province.

Our fifth strategic objective 'increasing safety', like the previous strategic objective, is based on the 'whole of society' model. It will be championed by Minister Albert Frits in the Department of Community Safety.

It is designed to do three things, in partnership with other role players, including business:

Again, we will release the full extent of our plan to achieve these objectives in due course.

Our sixth strategic objective is about housing - the development of integrated and sustainable human settlements. The lead Minister for this strategic objective is Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela.

Housing is one of the most difficult portfolios to get right. Anyone watching the developments in Hangberg, Hout Bay yesterday will understand the social complexities involved. There is one golden rule: when you put resources into poor communities, conflict is inevitable.

One thing we realised when we assumed office is that the housing delivery model we inherited - a free 40 square metre house on a 100 square metre plot - was unsustainable. The rate of delivery (around 16,000 units a year) is less than the rate of growth of the housing waiting list -- with a backlog of an estimated 500,000 units.

This is why we have decided to increase the number of families we assist with a housing opportunity by focusing on the provision of services to those in need, chiefly through the upgrading of informal settlements. This will allow us to help far more families gain access to decent shelter and services. We are also actively promoting self-build schemes that enable people to take charge of the building of their own house.

Not only do we realise that we need to assist more families than we currently do, we also realise that the scarcity of well-located land is a serious obstacle to creating sustainable human settlements that are close to social amenities and economic opportunities. This is why we are increasing the densities of new human settlement developments in land-scarce municipalities.

Our seventh strategic objective is being driven primarily by Minister Anton Bredell. It is designed to make our province environmentally sustainable by making better use of our resources reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. Approximately 95% of energy in the province is generated by burning fossil fuels.

By 2014, we aim to ensure that 15% of electricity usage in the province comes from renewable energy sources. This is an ambitious target, but we believe we must stretch ourselves to accomplish what most consider unachievable. If we can just reduce the red tape here, we will easily achieve our objectives.

We are starting by setting the example. We are committed to reducing electricity consumption in provincial government buildings by 5-10% over the next five years. We will do this by advocating energy saving mechanisms such as alternative lighting systems (such as LEDs and energy efficient bulbs), timed sensors, water efficiency mechanisms and introducing behavioural change campaigns.

We will also be working closely with business in the province to help them become 'greener' and more energy efficient.

Our eighth strategic objective - still to be launched - is 'increasing social cohesion'. It is designed to strengthen the social fabric by reducing the scope for social disintegration and social conflict.

We want to create an environment in which all citizens of the province can develop their capabilities, live together harmoniously, feel a sense of belonging and ownership, and participate in the civic and socio-economic life of their communities.

Social cohesion will increase to the extent that we fulfill all the other objectives I have mentioned today. But there are specific interventions that are designed with increasing social cohesion in mind.

One of these is the rampant drug and alcohol abuse in our province. We have already put in place the most comprehensive policy response to substance abuse in the country. It includes radical interventions such as search and seizure operations in schools and what we call 'affirmative outreach' by which social workers actively identify youth at risk of abusing substances. The idea is to stop full-blown addiction before it occurs.

We will be releasing further details of our social cohesion plan in due course.

Our ninth strategic objective - poverty reduction and alleviation - is also dependent largely on whether we achieve the other strategic objectives. Our Minister of Social Development, Patricia de Lille, will be responsible for making sure that fighting poverty is at the heart of everything we do.

Following the economist, Amartya Sen, we define poverty as 'capability deprivation' - the inability of a person to lead a life they value. A person is poor when she is unable to meet her basic needs or the needs of her dependents.

The thrust of any strategy to address poverty must, therefore, be to increase people's capability to meet these needs. There are various ways the state must do this: through policies that increase economic growth and expand people's opportunities, particularly through good public education and health care. Social grants are also an important component of any anti-poverty strategy. They cushion people from the effects of extreme deprivation. They are intended to provide a catalyst for development, a proverbial "hand up" so that people can take the next step towards meeting their needs in a sustainable way.

Our final three objectives have not yet been released in full, which is why I will mention them here only briefly.

Our 10th strategic objective -- is designed to develop provincial mechanisms to better co-ordinate activities involving the other spheres of government (national and local). It has a strong focus on capacitating poorly performing local municipalities. Minister Anton Bredell will be taking overall responsibility for this strategic objective.

Our 11th strategic objective - 'increasing opportunities for growth and development in rural areas' - will be driven by Minister Gerrit van Rensburg. It acknowledges that agriculture is a key economic sector in the Western Cape that must be nurtured and supported by government if we are to achieve our overall objective of building an open, opportunity society for all.

  1. Creating Opportunities for Growth and Jobs
    • Developing a provincial vision and brand to attract skills and investment. It will be known as the Future Cape initiative.
    • Developing a corruption-free and efficient public sector. Besides the efficiency drives that I have already touched on, we are cleaning up government. So, for example, we are increasing our forensic investigation capacity to catch corrupt officials and we are prohibiting state employees from doing business with government. We are also in the process of opening up our tender processes for public scrutiny.
    • Developing an integrated infrastructure plan for the Western Cape in order to create investment and employment.
    • Establishing a Western Cape Economic Development Agency staffed by people with real business expertise to develop and execute a demand-led economic development strategy.
  2. Improving Education Outcomes
  3. Increasing Access to Safe and Efficient Transport
  4. Increasing Wellness
  5. Increasing Safety
    • Remove the opportunities to commit crime
    • Decrease the motivation of offenders to commit crime
    • Reduce the causes of crime
    • Developing Integrated and Sustainable Human Settlements
    • Mainstreaming Sustainability and Optimising Resource-Use Efficiency
    • Increasing Social Cohesion
    • Poverty Reduction and Alleviation
    • 'Integrating service delivery for maximum impact'
    • Increasing opportunities for growth and development in rural areas
    • Building the best-run provincial government in the world

Our 12th and final strategic objective is to 'build the best-run provincial government in the world.' We are quite serious about achieving this. We understand that the only way we can do it is if we find ways to galvanise every employee of this provincial government behind a single vision and mission. This process will be driven by the Premier's Office. We have chosen the values of 'competence', 'accountability', 'integrity' and 'responsiveness' as the watchwords for everybody associated with our government. As part of a forthcoming change management exercise, we are going to develop ways to ensure that everybody who works for us lives these values.


I hope that this brief run-through of our twelve strategic objectives has given you a better idea of our plans in government and what we want to achieve in the Western Cape over the next five years.

I must emphasise that although some of our plans are far down the track, and are being implemented as we speak, there is always room for constructive engagement on any of them.

We think of ourselves as a learning government - we do not presume to have a monopoly on knowledge. We always welcome good ideas, no matter where they come from. This is what the "open society" requires.

I look forward to discussing them further with you.

Thank you.