President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the OR Tambo District, which is one of the poorest districts in the country, will now be the primary focus of development by government.
Ramaphosa, who was addressing an Imbizo in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape on Tuesday afternoon, said government will make R11.5 billion available for some catalytic projects in the OR Tambo district.
The president also reassured the masses that the work will continue on the N2 Wild Coast Project which has been characterised by protests.
He said other major projects such as the multi-billion uMzimvubu would definitely be implemented starting with the construction of access roads.
Addressing thousands of villagers who had braved the sunny weather at Zalu Sports Ground where he was launching the district based service delivery model, Ramaphosa said government had great plans for the district.
“It is going to take our plans for the next five years in the life of this administration to make sure that in the district we identify projects that we are going to undertake and how much money we are going to spend...
“And as we spend the money we would want to leverage the money that we are going to spend to attract the private sector to come possibly spend three times to four times what we will be spending as government. For instance if we spend R10 billion we would want the private sector to spend at least R30 billion to R40 billion so that we generate growth for this region,” Ramaphosa said.
He said government was currently in talks with various stakeholders to ensure that the economy of the region was positively affected.
Some of government’s plans was to improve the poor transport networks of the region and the agricultural sphere.
He said there were already a number of partners who want to come and assist – such as African Development Bank.
“They have been begging us, saying we want to come and work with you. But we have been holding them back because we want to perfect this model. We want to work at a district level. So, we will be therefore bring in a number of partners who are going to enhance a great deal of development and our first target will be the African Development Bank who have been working in a number of countries already,” he said.
Ramaphosa, who was accompanied by a number of government ministers, deputy ministers, MECs and mayors, said the major focus would on addressing the challenge of water, infrastructure and the issue of connectivity including broadband.
“These are critical issues that this model is going to enable us to give attention to. We will also be looking at developing a metro in this district. Mthatha needs to be developed towards being a metro. And we want to be able to do that. So this plan is going to allow us to have the possibility,” said Ramaphosa to wild applause from the audience.
He said in the main government wanted to create jobs in the region in order to deal with the scourge of unemployment and poverty.
“We want to end hunger as well in this province. OR Tambo is one of the poorest districts in our country. We need to attend to that. This is giving us a greater focus on this district of OR Tambo. It’s no longer just lip service. We are going to focus more attention at the district level,” he said.
He said as government they are going to focus on what they think is doable in a number of areas.
The district based development model, Ramaphosa said, would be coordinated by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, throughout the country.
He said after they have set up the one in OR Tambo, they would move to eThekwini for an urban experience and then to Waterberg in Limpopo in a mining area.
After evaluating the model, it would then be rolled out to all the 44 districts in the country and 8 metros within the five year term of the sixth administration.
“We don’t want to leave any district or metro behind. And we don’t want to leave any of our people behind. So she [Dlamini-Zuma] is going to lead all of us, coordinating us together,” said Ramaphosa.
He said various ministers have come up with their own plans about what they would be doing in the district as part of their national plans.
“All in all we will be spending a minimum of R11.5 billion in OR Tambo in a number of projects that would be done here. Public works is also going to embark on a number of projects that will amount to quite a lot of money, well over R100 million,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Ramaphosa opened the Lusikisiki Village Clinic which he referred to as the best clinic in South Africa today.
“It’s a very modern clinic – even the people who work there are filled with pride and they told me there was no other clinic as great as theirs. It is a clinic aligned with the National Health Insurance (NHI) and it is a clinic which we are now going to copy and develop in other areas,” he said.
He added that maintenance and repairs will be conducted to 20 clinics in the district to ensure that at least 31 clinics are ready for the NHI in the OR Tambo region, where the programme is also being piloted.