Dr IH Meyer at the opening of the NCOP Week ( 13-17 April 2015), Oudtshoorn | Western Cape Government

Speeches

Dr IH Meyer at the opening of the NCOP Week ( 13-17 April 2015), Oudtshoorn

14 April 2015

Speech by Dr Ivan Meyer, Minister of Finance

Programme Directors: The Hon. J.R. Tau, Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP and the Hon. P Pretorius: Deputy Speaker of the Western Cape Legislature, chairperson of the NCOP: the Hon. T.R. Modise, Provincial Chairperson of SALGA: Cllr D Qually, speaker of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature:    The Hon S Fernandez, Executive Mayor of Eden District Municipality: Cllr W van der Westhuizen,

MEC’s

Members of the NCOP

Members of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature

Executive Mayors

Councillors

Community Leaders

Members of the Media

Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to address you this morning.

Honourable Chairperson, before I continue I wish to convey Premier Zille’s apologies for her not being able to be present this morning.  Knowing her proven commitment to service delivery, I can assure you that she does have a keen interest in this week’s proceedings and look forward to receiving feedback that will ultimately benefit the citizens of the Eden Region.

Programme Directors when the Honourable Thandi Modise addressed the audience at Thembalethu Community Hall in George on 7 March 2015 “she challenged and encouraged the people of the Eden District to come forward as there was a need to see whether the government and municipalities were doing justice to service delivery in respect of projects and whether the organs of the state were able to fully address the people’s needs. The Chairperson of the NCOP further highlighted the need for an assessment of whether “leaders were in fact serving their own interests through corrupt means”. She further advised local people to try and obtain full ownership of their respective municipalities, urging them to come forward with their suggestions and complaints about what she termed “abuse of positional authority and power”.

It is in the same spirit that the Western Cape Government approaches this morning’s proceedings. We do so because we believe that the citizens of the Western Cape deserve a capable, accountable, transparent government and it is our (National, Provincial and Local Governments) collective duty to provide them with the best government possible.

It is for this reason that the Western Cape Government believes that we must do our utmost to ensure that the National Development (NDP) is implemented. Two key pillars of the NDP is firstly the capable state and secondly, active citizenry.

In a democracy, the principle of accountability holds that public servants are responsible to the citizenry for their decisions and actions. Transparency requires that the decisions and actions of those in government are open to public scrutiny and that the public has a right to access such information. Both concepts are central to the very idea of democratic governance. Without accountability and transparency, democracy is impossible.

Programme director I’ll say something more about democracy in a minute, but before I do, allow me to provide some background on the Eden District.

As per Census 2011, the Western Cape population composes of 11.25 per cent of the total population of the country with 5.8 million persons, having increased from

4.5 million in 2001. Thus the Western Cape population grew at a rate of 2.6 per cent

per annum between 2001 and 2011. This is faster than the national population growth rate of 1.5 per cent and is largely due to in-migration to the Western Cape, where individuals believe they can obtain jobs and access better standards of living.

The Eden District population consists of 587 564 people, i.e. 9.8 per cent of the Western Cape population. It has the third largest population size of all the regions within the Province, as well as the third largest population growth rate after the City of Cape Town and the West Coast District at 2.4 per cent. This is slower than that of the Province as a whole.

In 2013 the Eden District’s population age distribution consisted of the following:

Children (aged 0 - 14 years) 25.5 per cent, Working age (aged 15 - 64 years) 66.2 per cent and Aged (aged 65 years and above) 8.2 per cent.

The child dependency ratio for the Eden District region based on the 2011 Census, is 39 per cent and the aged dependency ratio for the same period is 11.8 per cent.

Adding these two ratios together, the total dependency ratio for the Eden District amounts to 50.8 per cent in 2011, which is half the population. This highlights the extent of support that the Eden District region needs to take into consideration when planning service delivery.

The literacy rate in the Western Cape is 87.2 per cent which is higher than the literacy rate in the country as a whole of 80.9 per cent. The literacy rate in the Eden District is slightly lower at 82.6 per cent. The Eden District still however compares favourably to Cape Winelands (81.7 per cent), Overberg (81.1 per cent) and West Coast (79.1 per cent) and the Central Karoo (73.4 per cent) in terms of overall literacy.

The majority of the learners in the Eden District, 33.7 per cent are enrolled at schools in the George municipal area and the smallest number of learner enrolment is in the Kannaland municipal area at 4.6 per cent. The highest dropout rate appears within Kannaland with 47.2 per cent.

The highest dropout rate during the Further Education and Training (FET) phase was recorded in Mossel Bay Municipality with 44.0 per cent.

Overall dropout rates in the Eden District are relatively high and are of concern considering the general trend towards employing skilled labour. Oudtshoorn’s dropout rates are however relatively low compared to the other municipalities in the Eden District at 26.6 per cent overall in 2012 and 28.1 per cent in the FET phase in 2013.

In the Eden District, 105 schools have access to libraries or media centres in 2014.

George Municipality has the majority with 32 schools with access to libraries compared to Bitou with only 6. This is despite Bitou having almost double the number of learners compared to Kannaland with 13 schools with libraries and media centres.

In the Eden region the number of no fee schools has remained constant from 2013 to 2014 with a total of 134 no fee schools. George and Oudtshoorn with 34 no fee schools account for the majority with Bitou (8), Mossel Bay (13) and Knysna (13) accounting for the least.

Schools within the Kannaland Municipality achieved the highest matric pass rate, 92.6 per cent in the 2013 Matric exams, followed by Hessequa Municipality with 92.4 per cent pass rate. On the other hand, schools in the Bitou and Knysna Municipal area achieved the lowest matric pass rate with 82.8 per cent and 83.0 per cent respectively. Generally, the Eden region displayed a slight decrease in the overall matric pass rate from the 2012 figures recorded, however George, Oudtshoorn and Hessequa Municipalities experienced some improvement.

In the year 2014 there were a total of 82 healthcare facilities situated in the Eden District. These consisted of 1 regional hospital, 6 district hospitals and 42 fixed and 33 non-fixed public healthcare clinics/facilities. The Eden District has no community health centres. Nevertheless the Eden District has the third highest number of healthcare facilities after the City of Cape Town and the Cape Winelands District, indicating a commitment towards improving healthcare in the region.

The Eden District regional economy generated 8.1 per cent of the Western Cape GDPR during 2013, i.e. R35 billion of the total R431 billion. The Eden District economy grew by 5.0 per cent per annum from 2000 to 2013.

The fastest growing sectors within the Eden District were General government (5.4 per cent), Wholesale and retail trade, catering and accommodation (5.0 per cent) and Manufacturing (4.3 per cent). The Finance, insurance, real estate and business services also grew relatively fast at 3.9 per cent. The slowest growing sector was Electricity, gas and water seeing a real growth rate of only 0.9 per cent.

The slow growth in the Agriculture, forestry and fishing sector of 1.5 per cent is of concern considering the job losses within this sector. In 2013 the largest contributing sectors to GDPR within Eden District were Finance, insurance, real estate and business services (21.1 per cent), followed by Wholesale and retail trade, catering and accommodation (20.9 per cent) and Manufacturing (15.2 per cent). The Eden District has a well-diversified economy which explains its fast economic growth compared to other regions in the Province. Tourism activities have also ensured growth during a sluggish economic environment.

The Western Cape unemployment rate was 21.6 per cent in 2011. This is slightly lower than the unemployment rate of the Eden District of 22.5 per cent. In comparison with the other districts within the Province, Eden had the third highest unemployment rate after the City of Cape Town (23.9 per cent) and the Central Karoo District (22.7 per cent).

The youth unemployment rate is a greater concern at 29.3 per cent in 2011 having shown only a slight decline from 31.2 per cent in 2001. This may be due to the youth’s lack of experience and soft skills. The high dropout rates in the Eden District as may also be contributing to youth unemployment in the region.

The unemployment rate in the Eden District has also shown only a slight decline from 23.4 per cent in 2001. This may be due to the large job losses in the manufacturing, construction and agriculture sectors, even during the economic recovery period, having countered the jobs created in the services sector

The provision of basic services has fallen slightly within the Eden District from 2011 to 2013, based on the proportion of households with access to basic services. This may be as a result of the fast growing population. There has been some decline in the levels of access to sanitation (85.2 to 85.1 per cent), housing (84.4 to 84.1 per cent) and electricity (91.0 to 89.4 per cent). Access to water has remained stable at 95.2 per cent, whereas the levels of access to refuse removal have shown some improvement from 86.4 to 86.5 per cent.

One of the most important developments in terms of governance has been the movement towards the building and strengthening of local government throughout South Africa.  Demands for increased governmental responsiveness and accountability have played a significant role in this development.

Those who are therefore concerned with the building of democracy have increasingly turned their attention to the establishing of strong and viable local governments as an important means of ensuring the dispersion of political power and government authority essential for the maintenance of democratic governance.

Programme Director, an important ingredient in building a strong and viable local government is the quality of leadership. By leadership I refer to not only  the behaviour and actions of individuals but also whether the municipality is working with other spheres of government and civil society in its area of jurisdiction  and accepting  particular responsibility for addressing the needs and aspirations of the inhabitants by  mobilizing people to tackle (tough problems); strengthening the capacity of citizens and communities to govern themselves; and creating a strong sense of direction for the organisation and the people in it and the values that need to drive the direction; enabling all  stakeholders to develop a value system of responsibility for  the future. 

Sadly, Programme Director, the issue of leadership or should I say inability to provide leadership at the municipal level is seen by many as the cause of many of the service delivery challenges in the Eden District in general and Oudtshoorn in particular.

While much figure pointing has become the order of the day we need to be all reminded that the long unsavoury saga started with the failure to accept the most basic principal of democracy, namely, the outcome of an election. The failure to do so set the Oudtshoorn municipality on a downward spiral with service delivery being the great casualty.

Programme Director, the NDP requires us to work towards improving relations between national, provincial and local government requires a proactive approach to solving coordination problems. The NDP further recommends that local government can be strengthened by:

 

  • Developing systems to strengthen local government, including recruitment systems, operational guidelines for routine tasks, staffing frameworks for municipal functions, standard assessment procedures for recruiting new staff and guidelines on salary levels.
  • Municipalities need to tailor capacity-building strategies and staffing budgets to their core functions, and link their municipal skills plans to their IDPs.
  • Strengthen national and provincial support and oversight.
  • Take a more long-term approach to building local government capacity 
  • Focus IDPs on the core municipal priorities and ensure the production of IDPs is led by local government staff.
  • Ensure participation in IDPs is deliberative so communities are engaged in prioritising and making trade-offs.
  • Municipalities need to engage communities in their own spaces.

Programme director; let me conclude by highlighting some of the WCG interventions being implemented in the Eden Region in the 2015/16 financial year. This was done in response to the realities mentioned above.

It responds to the challenges of low growth, high unemployment and socio economic challenges through a framework of action outlined by the Provincial Strategic Plan which sets out five Provincial Strategic Goals for the next five years that are backed by transversal, departmental and sectoral plans and budgets.

Economic growth and jobs remain the Western Cape Governments’ number one priority and is the only way to fight poverty in a sustainable way. Key enablers such as  energy, water, skills, infrastructure and reducing red tape; are critical to realise the potential for growth and job creation. Therefore, major infrastructure development in the education and transport sectors forms part of the R4,2-billion budget allocated Eden District for 2015/16.

Infrastructure spending on education, housing, health and transport totalling R1,43-billion is allocated to Eden with transport receiving R788,1-million, education R319-million, health R41,6-million and human settlements R279-million.

A total of R40-million is to be spent on road infrastructure in the Stilbaai area, which includes the rehabilitation of the road linking the town with the N2. Blanco is allocated R22-million under the transport infrastructure spend and R26-million is set aside for the Glentana road upgrade that already started last year.

The health infrastructure budget includes allocations for health technology infrastructure at George Regional Hospital (R1,84-million), Mossel Bay District Hospital (R2,5-million) and Oudtshoorn District Hospital (R2-million).

Building will also start on the new Eden Nursing College in George at a cost of R6-million in the 2015/2016 book year and a further R15,3-million in the following two financial years.

George will be getting two new primary and two new secondary schools (in Thembalethu and Pacaltsdorp), Knysna will receive two primary schools and one secondary school, Hessequa and Mossel Bay will get a primary school each, and Bitou will get two primary schools. For Oudtshoorn, one new primary school is in the planning stage and maintenance is scheduled for three primary and three secondary schools.

A new initiative is also to be launched in the region when the first Youth Café outside of the Cape Metropole opens for pupils in George where they become part of programmes are aimed at preparing them to become active role-players in the economy.

A massive rollout of broadband internet through free Wi-Fi hotspots, also in rural communities and for small businesses, will begin. Hotspots will be set up at 2 000 government buildings, including clinics and hospitals.

Other major public works projects are the modernisation of the York Park building in George at a cost of R13,8-million and upgrading of House De Klerk Hostel in Mossel Bay for R16-million.

A total of R7,7-billion is to be spent on housing and related infrastructure in the region over the next three years.

Programme directors, The NDP calls for active citizenry.

Let us lay the foundation for citizens to engage and access  the oppertunities the NCOP Week creates and in partnerhip concretize the Western Cape’s  philosophy of Better Together.

I thank you.

Media Enquiries: 

Daniel Johnson
Media Liaison Officer/Spokesperson to Dr Ivan Meyer Minister of Finance
Cell: 079 990 4231
E-mail: daniel.johnson@westerncape.gov.za