Makhura calls for parties to work together to make Gauteng stronger

2017-02-20 22:15
The Gauteng State of the Province address in Randfontein (Mpho Raborife, News24)

The Gauteng State of the Province address in Randfontein (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Local government's plan for SA's economic powerhouse

2017-02-20 15:16

Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Monday deliver the State of the Province Address in the West Rand.WATCH

Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Monday asked political parties to put their differences aside and work together for the benefit of Gauteng’s residents.

“Let us make politics more constructive, transformative and impactful on the lives of ordinary citizens,” he said in his State of the Province address.

Although the global and domestic economy had been characterised by a sluggish growth over the past two years, he said it was heartening that Gauteng had remained resilient as the economic and industrial hub of South Africa and the SADC region.

The province recorded the largest net gain in new jobs created since the 2008 global financial crisis. Between 2010 and end of 2016, the province’s economy created more than 700 000 new jobs.

Although this was positive news, in order to significantly decrease unemployment, the province needed to create at least 600 000 new jobs between 2017 and 2019, he said.

Gauteng’s ability to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) was unparalleled, attracting R66bn worth of FDI inflows between 2014 and 2016.

The province had received the largest number of foreign tourists (41.4%) of the total in the country.

“Gauteng has the highest number of bed-nights and revenue generated, compared to other provinces, within the international tourist markets. We also receive the majority of African land-based tourists,” he said.

The province was making a concerted effort to move some of this business to the townships to boost its own economy. Spending on the township economy had increased from R600m in 2014 to R6bn in 2016.

“This represents 22% of the 30% target we have set for 2019. We are emboldened that we can reach 40% by the end of our term.”

The number of township enterprises benefiting from the public procurement policy rose drastically, from 800 in 2014, to more than 2 800 by January 2017.

Infrastructure

Makhura said investment in the sector amounted to R30bn between 2013 and 2016, which translated to an average annual growth rate of 20.7% – the fastest in the country.

Evidence emerging from a commissioned study conducted by KPMG regarding public infrastructure investment found that 92 000 direct jobs were added into the Gauteng economy through infrastructure spend.

On average, for every R1 spent on infrastructure, 92 cents was added to the Gauteng economy.

Infrastructure spend had increased government revenue by R6bn and resulted in additional economic activity worth R26bn.

“This suggests that without government-led infrastructure investment at national, provincial and local level, our national economy could have been in recession, with serious consequences for families and businesses alike,” Makhura said.

He urged all municipalities to continue delivering state-of-the-art infrastructure so more jobs could be created and for the improvement of quality of life for Gauteng’s residents.

“As leaders representing all citizens, let us act in the public interest by resisting the temptation to assert authority by stopping projects that benefit the citizens and the economy of our city region,” he said.

“Let us work together regardless of which party runs which government,” he said.

No e-tolls on new roads

Makhura said the province had learnt its lesson with e-tolls and would not commit the same mistake again.

“We can’t build roads and only later inform citizens that they must pay. In fact, there will be no e-tolls on our new roads.”

Although no concrete solutions had been found following the advisory panel which was established to address the e-tolls matter, they had “tried their best”.

“The ultimate solution can only come from national level. We will continue to engage in order to represent the interests of our residents,” he said.

Narrowing the gap

Townships were increasingly becoming centres of academic and educational excellence and redress.

The province had narrowed the performance gap between most fee-paying township schools and non-fee paying schools. Seven out of 10 pupils who started Grade 1 were now reaching Grade 12.

Although Gauteng had dropped from number two to number three in the 2016 Grade 12 results, its pass rate had increased from 84.2% in 2015 to 85.1% in 2016.

No district got a pass rate of less than 80% and the number of schools with pass rates below 40% had dropped from 14 in 2014 to two in 2016.

He acknowledged the frustration of the parents of Grade 1 and Grade 8 pupils, who had to use the online registration system to enroll their children.

He said MEC Panyaza Lesufi had assured him that similar problems would not happen in the next academic year.

Police not coping

Crime was still a major problem and the police were not coping due to infighting.

“Our communities are terrorised by gangsters, drug lords and rapists. Murder and robbery remains excruciatingly high. Violence against women, children and members of the LGBTI community remains out of control.”

Although the province had community initiatives to help police deal with crime, it was still not enough.

“Our police men and women are not coping. They are not getting the leadership they require from the top management, due mainly to incessant infighting among the leaders of our law enforcement agencies,” he said.

He wanted to see a return to visible policing, the use of specialised units, and report-backs from every station, cluster, and the provincial commissioner about crime reduction targets every eight weeks.

“We want to see real progress in closure of drug dens and the arrest and prosecution of drug lords. I want to see serious decline in crimes perpetrated against the most vulnerable in our communities.

“I want to see the police everywhere, every hour, every day.”

Read more on:    david makhura  |  johannesburg  |  local government

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