Zille touts Western Cape's successes in State of the Province Address

2017-02-17 18:14
Helen Zille. (File, Beeld)

Helen Zille. (File, Beeld)

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Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille gave the State of the Province Address on Friday with her focus on the province's successes.

In the two-hour speech the premier looked back at what she called progress made and the challenges the provincial government faced.

The speech was tedious and lacked substance, according to opposition parties who heckled her throughout the address, saying they had expected more.

But that, it seems, will be up to MEC's to deliver. Zille said they would flesh out their future plans in the coming weeks.

Following a failed attempt to get the provincial legislature to observe a moment of silence for the patients who died after being transferred from Esidimeni clinics in Gauteng to local NGOs, Zille told the house that the Western Cape was beginning to reap the rewards of good governance.

This included governance in education, housing, agriculture, jobs, health, energy. The government had also made strides in technology.

Job creation

The premier boasted about the Western Cape's unemployment rate, and said it was the lowest in the country on the broad definition.

"Our broad unemployment rate is a full 8.2 percentage points lower than Gauteng, and a full 13.8 points lower than the national figure. The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey figures for the 4th quarter 2016 show that this province has gained 490 000 new jobs since the 4th quarter of 2009, the year we took office," she said.

The province also had the lowest rural unemployment rate in the country, according to Zille.

She told the legislature that the provincial government was making gains in issuing title deeds to housing beneficiaries.

The province had put R41m behind addressing the backlog, she said.

Affordable housing has also been listed as a strategic priority.

'Low end of housing market in trouble'

"This is different from the RDP or BNG house [the transfer of a free house by the state to a beneficiary]. This approach is not sustainable," she said.

If people did not pay, social housing institutions had to borrow more money from banks and charge more in rent to service their debt.

"Given the fact that the country cannot afford to extend free housing indefinitely and if social housing institutions are not building sufficient rental accommodation, because tenants don't pay rent, the low end of the housing market is in trouble," she said.

Part of the problem could be addressed by the anticipated restructuring of the capital grant system, which would increase subsidies for the provision of rental units to R155 000 each, she said.

The total value of potential affordable housing projects in the pipeline stood at more than 40 000 units worth R3.2bn, Zille said.

She also outlined the progress made in upgrading the informal settlements near the Cape Town International Airport on the N2.

Criminal justice pipeline

She also focused on social challenges and put emphasis on problems around alcohol, drugs, the "blesser culture" and crime.

The whole criminal justice pipeline is in dire need of repair, she said.

"Police detectives are profoundly over-burdened, making it difficult to secure convictions. Far too often perpetrators, are back on the streets causing confidence in the criminal justice system to wane, and encouraging people to take the law into their own hands."

Zille said the province has chosen to start its fight against alcohol in areas such as Khayelitsha, Gugulethu and Nyanga (Gunya) and Paarl East.

“We would like to create an environment in these areas where the rule of law prevails, which will automatically reduce access to alcohol.”

The abuse of both alcohol and drugs remained a problem in the province, she said.

"Our social problems may be many, and they are often geographically concentrated. We are using every possible lever to mitigate them. An important one is urban design to positively transform neighbourhoods. Nowhere is this more necessary than in communities most impacted by gang violence, drugs and alcohol abuse."

Read more on:    helen zille  |  cape town

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