The Premier’s Mission
Written by: Khayelihle Khumalo
Gauteng Premier David Makhura delivered his second State of the Province Address at the provincial legislature amid great expectation whether e-tolls debacle will stay or get scrapped. Pity, there was no relief and dreadful suspense continues, as the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is still leading consultations to establish a most affordable and equitable funding model for the system. The controversial e-tolling system after all, almost toppled the ANC out of power in 2014’s general elections.
After pomp and ceremony was concluded, Makhura got into business and his address was anchored on the economy, which came across as a major paradigm shift, there was a strong focus on private sector partnership along with the state. He outlined broad plans to revive the province’s ailing economy, Gauteng contributes about 36% to South Africa’s GDP and the province is the biggest contributor to national employment and number of employed people grew from 2, 7 million in 1995 to 4, 88 million people in 2014. He then proposed three macro interventions namely spatial reconfiguration, township economy revitalisation and massive infrastructure investments for this year.
Makhura though persevered as EFF members of the provincial legislature were determined to collapse his address; they kept on raising frivolous point of orders from time to time, accusing Makhura of misleading the house, as he failed to accomplish his promises, which were made last year. But much kudos goes to Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe who was clear-headed and never resorted into any bold stance like throwing out rowdy MPLs.
The Premier announced his five corridors of development, namely the Central Development Corridor, which will essentially be anchored around Johannesburg, a hub of finance, services, ICT and pharmaceutical industries. While, Ekurhuleni will receive attention, to ensure that it’s declining manufacturing, logistics and transport industries are revived.
Makhura is also eager to see improvement in Tshwane, the country’s administrative capital, which remains South Africa’s hub of innovation, research, development and knowledge based economy. West Rand and Sedibeng are being positioned as new economic nodes. A whopping R10 billion will be used to regenerate the Johannesburg CBD and this is a welcomed initiative given the fact that, you still have a number of large corporations who are based in the CBD, which suffers from urban blight.
In total a massive R100 billion will be used to develop infrastructure, the Premier was also revealed plans to construct six mega cities namely Modderfontein, Masingita, Steyn and Waterfall city, which will be one of the biggest cities in a post-Apartheid South Africa. Makhura also reassured the province that there are plans to get an energy mix, as the country suffers from severe shortage of power.
The revitalisation of the township economy is perhaps one of the key concepts Makhura has spearheaded since taking office 10 months ago. He indicated that about R300 million in the 2015/16 financial year, more than R300 million will be used to support township enterprises and co-operatives. But a key question is, will financial institutions come to the party, will they revisit their strict rules in relation to financial assistance for small and medium enterprises?
The issue of drugs also got mention from the Premier who appeared very concern about this scourge in a province where nyaope drug has become a special treat for some teenagers in several areas. He admitted that nyaope, a concoction of anti-retroviral drugs, rat poison and other oddments. Makhura says this drug is ravaging several areas and tearing families apart. Meanwhile, Makhura has positioned himself as a person who is action driven, despises red tape and other hindrances, inhibiting service delivery, hence now you have a war room set aside to tackle service delivery protests, which are becoming a norm as it were.
Now all these bold plans may succeed, if the new open tender system is put into action last year, to combat tender fraud, which has crippled a number of state funded projects like the construction of hospitals, roads, schools, provision of certain services. The Premier further stressed that they do have measures to deal decisively with this phenomenon. As Premier Makhura along with his MECs will implement all these programmes, point is, will David accomplish his mission to deal with unemployment, inequality and poverty?