- Gauteng Premier David Makhura says his government is working on an economic recovery plan for the province.
- Makhura says the province's Township Economic Development Bill will be passed this year.
- The premier faced intense mocking from opposition political parties as he delivered his two-hour long speech on Monday.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura faced heckling during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) while trying to sell a message that his provincial government had answers to the province's economic problems.
Opposition political parties, particularly the EFF, mocked Makhura during parts of his address, signalling their displeasure at his message.
The SOPA was held on Monday in Johannesburg.
Makhura's focus on the Township Economic Development Bill, which was meant to be passed by the Gauteng legislature in 2021, garnered the most significant noise from opposition political parties.
The premier has been criticised for corruption in government and unimaginative solutions to the battered provincial economy.
The EFF said Makhura had failed to deliver on his promises.
The Township Economic Development Bill was intended to make it easier for small businesses to operate better by cutting the red tape that has often been a barrier for entrepreneurs.
Makhura said this Bill was still subject to public hearings and should be passed in 2022. But the EFF did not buy this message.
EFF members of the provincial legislature heckled Makhura on the matter.
Makhura said while the Bill remained in limbo, the provincial government had done some work investing in township economies.
He said over R20 billion had been spent on these economies. A breakdown of the spending was R5.6 billion on women-owned enterprises, R5.6 billion on youth-owned businesses, and R420 million on businesses owned by people living with disabilities.
Makhura said all this spending took place between 2014 and 2019. The premier's speech also focused considerably on the importance of economic recovery.
He said unemployment, and a struggling economy, remained the emergencies that would take over focus as the Covid-19 pandemic subsided.
Gauteng has an unemployment rate of 37%.
Makhura said a war-room he had assembled to tackle service delivery and economic recovery was working.
He said part of its success was in the tourism, food, and beverage industries.
Makhura also emphasised the use of cannabis and ongoing engagements with cannabis industry leaders. The benefits of cannabis were also highlighted by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the State of the Nation Address.
"This year, we will dedicate a special unit within the provincial government to work with the industry and national government to address the regulatory and licensing issues, attract investment and facilitate black participation in this new sector," Makhura said.
Makhura has also lamented a lack of focus on infrastructure investment and maintenance in the province. He said several vital projects faced delays for no reason.
The sector has the capabilities to provide much-needed jobs, Makhura said.
He said this remained his biggest concern, and another war-room would be created to deal with backlog and problems.
"Between 2014 and 2019, we invested R53 billion in social and economic infrastructure, which contributed to the creation of 120 000 jobs. Our track record on maintenance has been dismal, and costing projects are issues of concern," Makhura said.
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