State of the Eastern Cape: 5 things worth knowing

2012-02-17 11:53

City Press’s Eastern Cape correspondent Sabelo Skiti notes five key points from Premier Noxolo Kiviet’s state of the province address.

1. Strengthening education and building skills
As part of government’s plan to eradicate all mud schools and inadequate structures in the province, as compelled by a court order, only 49 out of 395 schools would be constructed this year.

The government had earmarked R6.2 billion for this work, which includes the construction of schools where pupils were taught in private homesteads.

Kiviet announced that special attention would be paid to strengthening management and administrative capacity within the embattled department.

The premier conceded it would be impossible for the government to have control over whether further disruptions to learning would take place as a result of industrial action.

She also rubbished claims attributed to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga that national intervention had failed because of non-cooperation from the province.

2. Job creation and boosting the economy
The unemployment rate in Eastern Cape has dropped from 29.9 to 27.1%.

The government has embarked on expansion and diversification of manufacturing in the province to boost job creation.

While 110 472 expanded public works programme jobs (against a target of 94 504) were created last year, this year’s target is to create 116 958 work opportunities.

Kiviet announced that the province’s two industrial development zones – Ngqura and East London – have brought in private investment to the tune of R11 billion in various sectors in the province.

A total of R3 billion of this money is meant for two renewable energy projects.

3. Building social and economic infrastructure
An amount of R103 billion will be spent on key infrastructural development programmes for the province.

And among these being several water infrastructure developments, including seawater desalination in Port Elizabeth and Port Alfred, the rehabilitation of water irrigation schemes in former homelands, construction of the Umzimvubu Dam and another dam at the upper Orange River.

In line with President Jacob Zuma’s promise to “improve the industrial and agricultural development and export capacity”, Transnet has committed more than R20 billion for the province.

Power utility Eskom is to invest R10 billion in energy infrastructure over the next six years, for improving the two metros and strengthening integration of the KwaZulu-Natal-East London line.

The KwaZulu-Natal-East London line is expected to improve supply in weak areas.

For the first time, the Alfred Nzo region would be serviced by the Eskom Eastern Cape office instead of KwaZulu-Natal as it had been the case.

Kiviet conceded that the R9 billion N2 Wild Coast improvements, which were announced 10 years ago, and were approved by national government late last year, were being stymied by legal challenges.

4 . Rural development and agrarian reports
Kiviet announced that the government’s promise to extend the rural development site project, which was started in Mhlontlo in 2009, had created 600 new jobs and provided household vegetable gardening and fencing training to 2 400 households.

Investment in agriculture infrastructure is expected to create 1 264 job opportunities this year alone.

The premier revealed that a projected R2 billion investment in the sugar beet bio-fuel hub in Cradock is expected to create 13 000 jobs in farming, harvesting, processing and transport.

The investment was made possible by the national department of rural development.

However, the establishment of the province’s Rural Development Agency, first mooted about two years ago, had not yet been established but would happen by April 1, she said.

5. Improving people’s health profile
Administratively, the provincial government was making headway in turning the department around as it received a qualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General in the 2010/11 financial year after years of disclaimers and adverse opinions.

Management of misconduct has improved, with 197 out of 254 financial misconduct cases, involving more than 700 employees and R800 million, finalised.

In a bid to further deal with rampant corruption in the health department, the ministry would be a pilot site for a new multi-agency working group under the National Treasury.

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