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Read the full 2020 Eastern Cape State of the Province Address (SOPA)

Feb 26, 2020
Read the full 2020 Eastern Cape State of the Province Address (SOPA)

Bhisho -  Following heated exchanges in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, which saw Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPLs being thrown out, Eastern Cape Premier, Oscar Mabuyane, tabled his 2020 State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Tuesday.

Mabuyane focused mainly on job creation and infrastructure development as well as moving the province into the digital age while utilising the province's emerging cannabis farming sector.

Read the State of the Province Address 25 February 2020:

Honourable Speaker, and Deputy Speaker

Judge President and Members of the Judiciary

Ministers and Deputy Ministers

Members of the Executive Council

Members of the Provincial Legislature

Members of National Parliament and delegates to the NCOP

Mayors and Speakers

Our Kings and Queens here present

House of Traditional Leaders

Veterans of our struggle for national liberation and their families

Leaders of Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 Institutions

Vice Chancellors of our Higher Education Institutions

Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps

Heads of Security Services

Leadership of the ANC, Alliance and other Political Parties

Leaders of the Religious Fraternity, Business, Labour and Civil Society

Acting Director-General, HODs and Heads of State Owned Enterprises

Members of the Media

Fellow Citizens of the Eastern Cape, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Molweni nonke ngalentsasa, good morning, goeie more almal, dumelang.

Somlomo, silapha namhlanje sizokwenza isithethe salo Rhulumente wentando yesininzi esaqalwa yiNkulumbuso yokuqala yeliPhondo, ongasekhoyo uBawo uRaymond Mhlaba.

Even at this moment, we are here to account to the people, because we remain a government of the people, by the people and for the people. This year, u“Oom Ray” would be 100 years old if he were still alive and we are celebrating his centenary by heightening development in our communities.

As we celebrate his centennial this year, I want us to remember him as an architect of our provincial administration. Through his leadership prowess we combined three different administrations into one that is inclusive and that is focused entirely on providing a better life for all the citizens of the Eastern Cape.

Today fellow citizens, I can declare without any fear of contradiction that the State of our Province is much better than it was when “Oom Ray” inherited it from the apartheid and Bantustan regimes 25 years ago.

Yes, we could have and we should have done more than we have done in the past 25 years to improve the living conditions of our people. We have had challenges, we acknowledge them, but they are far outweighed by our successes, thus we can boldly claim that the promise of a better life for all is still alive.

Somlomo, naMalungu ahloniphekileyo, kunye nabantu bephondo, sihlangene apha namhlanje ukuze singu rhulumente sidakance iinkqubo zethu zokuzalisekisa izithembiso zophuhliso lwabantu be phondo lethu. Oku sizokwenza ngesicwangciso sophuhliso lwephondo iProvincial Development Plan.

The PDP directs us to grow the provincial GDP to 5% by 2030 and to increase investments into the province to 27% of the GDP by 2030.

This is a strategic basis for us to fundamentally reduce unemployment, poverty and inequality. We will do this work through a clear people based cooperation between the national, provincial, local spheres of government and State Owned Entities. ¬ At this moment let me refl ect on the highlights of the period under review.

Somlomo, kwiminyaka embalwa edlulileyo, owayesakuba nguMongameli weLizwe uThabo Mbeki wathetha amazwi enkuthazo wathi: “Gloom and despondency have never defeated adversity. Trying times need courage and resilience. Our strength as a people is not tested during the best of times.”

I cite these wise words of our esteemed statesman, because 2019 was a challenging year in our province, particularly on the economic front. However we persevered and made the best out of our worst situation.

In the period under review, the Coega SEZ signed 18 new investors who pledged an investment to the value of R2.6 billion. Since March 2019 to date, the CDC has already signed 4 new lease agreements with various companies all pledging to invest more than R110 million.

In the East London SEZ, there are 14 projects under construction funded through the R1.4 billion DTI SEZ Fund to unlock private sector investment of R3.4 billion. These projects have created a total of 2000 direct construction jobs in the zone and this is estimated to grow to 3000 jobs by the end of the financial year.

In essence by the end of 2020, the Eastern Cape Province will see an additional 14 new factories being operational in the East London SEZ, a bulk of which will be in the automotive sector.

An additional 1600 people, particularly the youth will be employed permanently to work in these factories by the end of the 2020/21 financial year.

We welcome the multibillion rand investment by VM Automotive in Berlin, which has already injected R450 million for the construction of a factory to supply aluminium and steel blanks to Mercedes-Benz.

What excites us even more is that VM Automotive is the first 100% black owned firm to participate in the Mercedes Benz space and this is a good development for the transformation of the auto sector.

The auto sector is another provincial treasure that we must applaud for creating jobs in our province. New investments by ISUZU and Ford are a boost to our economy and we are in talks with Transnet to increase the capacity of the Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth railway line so that Ford can export their cars through the Port of Port Elizabeth.

In the last SOPA that we tabled eight (8) months ago, we made an undertaking that we were going to speed up the process of appointing 500 unemployed nurses and support staff for our healthcare centres.

To date, we can now report that we employed 333 nurses and nursing assistants.

The Khawuleza Project Management Offi ce and the Project Management Units (PMUs) for Information Communication Technology (ICT), CoGTA and Audit Outcomes which are aimed at strengthening the capability and effectiveness of the state machinery will be operational by the 1st of April 2020.

Fellow citizens, the year 2019 was also a year wherein our greatest asset, the human capital of this province shone bright and lifted the mood of the entire nation.

We were in awe as Ms Zozibini Tunzi took the title of Miss South Africa, and later the Miss Universe title. Luyolo Yiba also did us proud by taking the 2019 SA Idols title. The Springboks team, which consisted of a number of players from the Eastern Cape, including the Coach Rassie Erasmus, Captain Siya Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi, and Lukhanyo Am, lifted the 2019 Web Ellis Rugby World Cup.

The grade 12 class of 2019 ensured that we start the 2020 academic year on a high note with their achievement of 76.5% pass rate.

Mihlali Stofi le and Ondela Bede from Holy Cross High School, Okhela Sigwela and Lizalise Dlomo from Hudson Park High School also placed our province in the world map. They did this by winning the 5th International School Moot Court competition against their US counterparts in Poland.

Last week, Emihle Teyisi from Lehana Secondary School designed an engine that will charge a battery and at the same time provide power to various electrical appliances. When we talk about improving education outcomes, we mean business.

Honourable Members, through the exploits of all these compatriots, our social cohesion has been enhanced. This reminds us that we must at all material times focus our energies on what unites us than on what divides us.

Their accomplishments will inspire a generation of our children, both girls and boys to “take up space in society” as Zozi Tunzi remarked at the Miss Universe Pageant. If there is one thing that deserves a standing ovation and a solid round of applause in this august house today, it is the achievements of these young compatriots. This is Thumamina at its best.

2020 – 2024 the era of job creation and socio-economic development

Honourable Speaker, as we celebrate these accomplishments, we must also acknowledge that the majority of our people remain spectators in the mainstream economy. The greatest challenge we face in our province in this 26th year of our democracy is unemployment and youth unemployment in particular. The plans we are going to present here today, are aimed mainly at creating jobs for the youth of our Province.

Namhlanje, sibhengeza ngokuphandle ukuba unyaka ka 2020 ukuya kunyaka ka 2024, lixesha lokudala amathuba emisebenzi nokukhawulezisa uphuhliso kweliphondo lethu nkalo zonke. We will achieve this bold declaration through the pursuit of the 7 priorities which are drawn from the Vision 2030 blueprint, the Provincial Development Plan (PDP). At this moment, let me extend a word of gratitude to all the Commissioners under the leadership of Proffesor Mazwai who worked tirelessly to develop the revised PDP.

Economic Transformation and job creation Honourable Speaker, 26 years into our democracy we clearly have a big challenge of an economy that remains characterized by a number of key constraint factors. That said, we are going to offset the slow economic growth and unemployment through a range of initiatives and decisive interventions.

Firstly, we will fully utilise the R1.1 billion we approved over the MTEF for the Provincial Economic Stimulus Fund to ignite economic activities and to create new jobs. We are currently disbursing the stimulus fund to key sectors of the provincial economy such as agriculture and agro processing, fi lm, ICT, industrialization, manufacturing, Oceans economy, tourism, rural and township economy.

Rolling out enabling infrastructure network to grow the economy and create jobs

Secondly, all three spheres of government are making a consolidated investment of R41 billion for the development of infrastructure in the six districts and the two metros over the MTEF in line with the District Development Model. This is the realization of what President Cyril Ramaphosa calls the One Government, One Plan and One Budget agenda of the sixth term. The MEC for Finance will elaborate further on this in the Budget Speech.

I am happy to inform the house that the 7 catalytic projects that were submitted by the COEGA SEZ for funding have been approved by the Budget Facility for Infrastructure.

These projects will inject R1.4 billion into our provincial economy.

“We have also concluded a significant Land Deal with Transnet for the Ngqurha Manganese Export Terminal. This deal will pave a way for the development of the Port Elizabeth waterfront. Siyakhawuleza ngoku!

Pursuant to our efforts, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has pronounced that the Liquefi ed Natural Gas (LNG) project will be implemented in COEGA to unlock the potential of Gas Industry in our province. Transnet has committed to cooperate with the public and private sectors on this LNG gas project.

We are also pleased to indicate that in this term Transnet will invest an additional R4.6 billion for 17 key projects, such as Manganese Multi Channel Strategy, Phase 1 of the Port Elizabeth Water Front and Tank Farm project.

Honourable Members, we have unbelievable capacity and expertise at the COEGA SEZ, which we must utilize effectively for the development of the entire provincial economic infrastructure.

Therefore, in this financial year we will consolidate technical capacity at COEGA to assist the province on conceptualization and preparation of all submissions for economic infrastructure projects.

While some SOEs are experiencing challenges, our two SEZs continue to demonstrate capacity of providing cutting edge solutions for the development trajectory of this province. Their performance illustrates that when SOEs are properly managed by the right people with the right skills, can accelerate the development agenda of the country.

This is against the narrative that privatisation is the only effective and capable instrument to drive development and deliver services. We must continue to support our two SEZs.

In this term we are also going to respond swiftly to the challenge of aging infrastructure which deprives our people key services such as water and sanitation. Iingxaki zamanzi kwiindawo ezifana nase Makhanda nase Mnquma sizakuzilungisa ngelima eliluqilima phakathi koRhulumente kaZwelonke, owePhondo nowaseMakhaya. Sizakuvuselela amaphulo amanzi, sisebenzisane neSebe LeZamanzi ukuze siwandise umthamo wamadama.

The long awaited Mzimvubu Water Project will be implemented incrementally, a decision that we warmly welcome as a province. On Project Mthombo, we will continue to look for potential investors to come on board and make this project a reality.

Somlomo, the 4th Industrial Revolution is upon us. The vision of the country is that “South Africa must be a globally competitive, inclusive and shared economy with the technological capabilities and production capacity”.

As the Eastern Cape we must contribute to the attainment of this vision. The East London SEZ is planning to build a data center facility in multiple phases, equipping the fi rst data centre hall, carrier hotel, meet-me room and offi ce area to meet the inception date of the IOX cable landing. This data centre facility is a key requirement component of all the other projects discussed in the Digital Economy Portfolio.

The EL SEZ has also received and approved an investment application from an investor to establish a cable landing station within the SEZ.

Honourable Members, working in partnership with SENTECH we will continue to connect our education districts to satellite technology. Through an MOU between SENTECH and Provincial Government, we have also identifi ed new areas of cooperation, including the design of solutions for the development of a “Smart Industrial Park and City Solution” for the East London SEZ.

Similarly, working in partnership with the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa, we are going to connect 300 sites at Port St Johns and Ingquza Hill local municipalities comprising schools, clinics, government institutions as well as free public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Honourable Members, time has come for us to fully unlock the property portfolio of government for economic growth. We will henceforth, enlist our massive government property portfolio into the infrastructure investment book.

Some of our properties will be leased to the previously marginalised people, particularly youth and women to transform the sector.

All tenants occupying government properties must honour their lease agreements and pay their rent.

Honourable Members, we want government employees to have a conducive work environment to serve our people. We also want our people to get government services in a coordinated manner. We have invested R630 million to build Regional Offi ce Parks in Aliwal North and Komani as well SASSA Service Offi ces in Mount Frere, Libode and Cofimvaba.

Procurement to build an offi ce precinct in Bhisho and Mount Ayliff is under way. On the Bhisho Precinct, the Submission Deadline has been extended to the end of March 2020. We remain committed to complete this project within this term of Government. The establishment of the social Infrastructure Delivery Unit in the Department of Public Works will be fi nalised by the end of March 2020.

One of the components of our infrastructure built programme which is critical to grow the economy and enhance the mobility of our people is the transport infrastructure. Bantu bakuthi siyayazi imeko yeendlela ezingahambekiyo zeliphondo lethu. Urhulumente wenza zonke iinzame zokulungisa iindlela.

The MEC for Finance will elaborate on our investment for provincial road construction projects in the Budget Speech. With the investment he will announce, we will surface roads to communities in order to enable better access to schools, health centres and tourism attractions. One of these roads is the road from Butterworth to Thafalofefe which will be surfaced during this term. The designs for the road from Centane to Thafalofefe are complete and as government we are looking for funds to implement the project.

We have also appointed a panel of 38 plant hire contractors for emergency maintenance of gravel roads in the province. Our policy intent is to consolidate critical provincial roads that are within Metropolitan Municipalities to be transferred and gazetted to the Metros.

Through the same policy shift, we continue to reap significant benefits in investments on our road infrastructure network. The South African Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) will be rolling out multiple roads infrastructure projects in ten (10) critical trade routes across our province.

Through SANRAL, the National Department of Transport will inject R11,9 billion in the next 2 years with R5,4 billion targeted for Projects in Kirkwood, Addo, Port Elizabeth to East London, from Aliwal North to Lady Grey and Barkley East. This year, we will also see the re-establishment of Site for R61 between Baziya and Mthatha Airport. I can also confirm today, that the long awaited upgrade of the road between Alice and Fort Beaufort will start in May 2020.

Fellow citizens, in this term we will also invest significantly in public transport facilities to transform taxi ranks into economic transport nodes, and also build new ones, which will include market stalls for hawkers. Four inter-regional and inter-modal public transport terminals will be established in Port Elizabeth, East London and Mthatha.

Honorable Speaker, we welcome the R142.5 million investment commitment by PRASA to facelift our railway stations and the R1.5 billion investment commitment for the Network extension covering the 7km line and 4 stations in the area of Motherwell linking with the Port Elizabeth CBD.

We need to do more in building an integrated public transport system, particularly on the work of shifting freight from road to rail, as this will address congestion on our roads and reduce the costs of travelling for our people.

We are mindful of the need to ensure that public and private transport systems are designed to enable persons with disabilities to utilise the entire transport value chain without barriers.

Accordingly, 50% of existing systems will be re-designed to be compliant with accessibility norms and standards across the transport value chain by 2024.

Somlomo, iilokishi zethu asizishiyi ngemva kolulwakhiwo lwezibonelelo ezingundoqo, kuba sifuna abahlali baxhamle iinkonzo ezikumgangatho ophezulu. Intle into endiyibone eMdantsane yolwakhiwo lweQumza Highway ngokutsha kwakunye nezitrato ezakhiwayo jikelele kula lokishi. Sifuna lento kuzo zonke iilokishi zethu. The waterfronts of our two Metros will be significantly improved to attract investors and to boost tourism by the end of this term. Our Small Town revitalization Programme will also be continued to make small towns more attractive to investors.

Agricultural production and agro-processing

Honourable Speaker, we will augment the jobs from these catalytic infrastructure projects by implementing government driven job creation initiatives in the agricultural sector.

We are implementing our Provincial Agro Industry Development Action Implementation Plan and already, through the Economic Stimulus Fund, we have funded the development of the Fresh Produce industry, the Grain Industry, Aquaculture and Red Meat industry to realise this policy imperative.

Somlomo, ezolimo zifuna umhlaba. Siyavuya yinkqubo entsha ezolandelwa ngurhulumente yokuba kunikwe umhlaba amafama okwenyani. Lento izosikhupha kulengxaki yokuba sibone iifama ezininzi zingavelisi ngokwendlela ezifanele uvelisa ngayo.

We will ramp up our agricultural activities in order to fight poverty by expanding our hectorage under production. With respect to the provision of agricultural infrastructure, we are going to make available 27 livestock handling facilities, 60 auction facilities, 5 Agri-hubs and 25 agro-processing facilities.

Our trade promotion projects secured R516 million worth of trade agreement with Almawashi and this has created a market for farmers to sell their sheep.

We will embark on social facilitation to address land disputes that are hampering productivity and the economic potential of irrigation schemes such as the one in Ncora, while efforts will also be made to make our RED Hubs fully productive.

Somlomo, iwathwaxile amafama akuthi imbalela yaleminyaka mihlanu igqithileyo.

Working with national and local government, we will continue to assist our communities and farmers in mitigating the effects of drought.

We want to appreciate and commend the efforts of Gift of the Givers and Vodacom for assisting our people during this difficult time.

Honourable Members, the emerging Cannabis Economy offers boundless opportunities for the revival of our economy through the development of cannabis for industrial and medicinal use.

Our position as the Eastern Cape government is for an inclusive legislative process which must protect the indigenous growers of cannabis.

We are engaging national departments and authorities for the issuing of hemp permits and cannabis licences to farmers and investors in the Eastern Cape.

We have directed our SEZs to be aggressive in attracting investors under the current legislative regime, which permits cannabis production in a controlled climate. The Establishment of the Wild Coast SEZ is progressing very well, and we intend to use it to unlock the entire agriculture value chain in the eastern side of our province.

 

Unlocking the oceans economy

Honourable Members, as you are aware that our province is endowed with the marine resources found in the 800 kilometre stretch of our coastline. Phenomenal work has been done to develop the Oceans Economy Master Plan, and EXCO has approved it for implementation. This plan is expected to inject a projected R10.4 billion into the provincial economy and create about 33 000 jobs after the first five years of its implementation.

We will include projects proposed and identified in the Master Plan into our provincial investment book. Our plans to establish small harbours in Port St Johns, Hamburg, Port Alfred and Gonubie will be speeded up.

Iyasivuyisa Somlomo ohloniphekileyo ingxelo ethi, abalobi bephondo abaliwaka elinamakhulu amahlanu (1500) bafumene iimpepha mvume zokuloba zeminyaka elishumi elinesihlanu kwi Sebe leZendalo, aMahlathi nokuLoba. Oku, kuzakuncedisa abalobi abaphuma kwii lali ezikufutshane no Lwandle ukuba baxhamle kuqoqosho lwezamalwandle.

Localization and industrialization

In this term we also want to increase exports to grow our economy and create jobs. The only way we can do this, is by affirming local industries in our townships, rural towns and encourage entrepreneurs to manufacture goods in the province.

Our Industrial Parks are central to this task as they must be centres for manufacturing and agro-processing. Our work to revitalize these Industrial Parks is gaining momentum in Komani and Dimbaza.

We aim to utilise the Komani Industrial Park for value addition and beneficiation on Molteno Coal Belt Mining and Cradock Bio-fuel Project. We will engage Transnet to upgrade the Indwe to East London railway line for the transportation of the containerised coal from Elitheni to East London.

An essential requirement to grow a diversified and inclusive economy is the establishment of partnerships with key economic players and development finance institutions. We will leverage on the partnerships we have with IDC, DTI and DBSA to revitalize Industrial Parks for economic development initiatives.

Reforms to affirm local businesses

Honourable Members, in this term we want local SMMEs to be the primary beneficiaries in the implementation of our plans because they are a fountain for job creation. We are not short of entrepreneurial geniuses in this province who are contributing immensely to job creation. I know them, you know them and we see them when we visit our communities.

The application processes of government Development Finance

Institutions are too cumbersome, hindering their growth and productivity. We are fixing the red tape and in the 2020/21 financial year, we will develop a system that will fast-track allocation of funds to deserving businesses.

Somlomo, sibaxelele abalawuli baMasebe kaRhulumente ne aRhente zethu ukuba sifuna oosomashishini balapha ephondweni baxhamle kumsebenzi wokwakha ozakwenziwa apha ephondweni jikelele. The procurement bill is on our side on this and we must use it to create new industries and sustain existing ones in our province.

Honourable Members, we implement all these reforms to affirm our SMMEs, but our efforts will be futile if we do not pay SMMEs on time. Last year, we launched an invoice tracking system to ensure that suppliers are paid within 30 days. It gives me a great pleasure to announce that since we launched the Have I been Paid system, turnaround times for the payment of service providers within 30 days have significantly improved. We will now rollout this system to 8 more departments.

Conservation, Tourism and Sustainable Development

Honourable Members, the PDP directs us to pursue our economic growth plans in an environmentally sensible manner. We will therefore continue to advocate for environmental responsible development. The tourism sector continues to be a niche sector for job creation in our province. In this term we aim to attract 1 million domestic and international tourists. To this end, we call on SAA to reconsider the unilateral decision taken to cut flights to our province as it is an anti-thesis for the domestic and secondary markets.

We also plan to increase the number of quality emerging tourism products, such as Mthombos Palace in Mdantsane and Emonti Tours that have received support from Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency (ECPTA) Development programme.

We will also spread authentic tourism experiences to rural product owners, particularly along the Wild Coast, whilst signature local events such as Berlin November, Buyelekhaya, Isingqi sethu, Ebubeleni and the National Arts Festival will be supported to showcase nearby tourist experiences so that visitors become holiday makers.

Our attempts to transform the game industry are gaining momentum. We will deliver more game to new sites in the second quarter of the new financial year.

Honourable Speaker, we have taken a concerted effort to increase investment and partnerships in the Creative Arts Industry. In this regard, we have developed a partnership with MultiChoice and the National Film and Video Foundation to develop the Eastern Cape Film Hub.

This hub which offers high speed connectivity with multimedia and conferencing will provide the much needed working space and flexible post production suites for film entrepreneurs at affordable rates.

Youth empowerment and job creation Honourable Members, as I indicated earlier that all our plans are meant to create jobs mainly for our youth. We have set up a Directorate in the Office of the Premier which will ensure effective mainstreaming of youth programs in government. These will include interventions to support the young people of our province to sustain their businesses and receive skills training. We will also ensure that the youth of our province benefi t from the package of youth development programmes that were announced by the President in his State of the Nation Address.

We are also engaging various SETAs to provide skills training to graduates and unemployed youth. We welcome President Ramaphosa’s pronouncement to build new TVET college campuses this year, in Sterkspruit, Aliwal North, Graaff Reinet and Ngungqushe. We will ensure that the curriculum of these TVETs is in line with the requirements of the economy and the skills needs of the province. We welcome the investment of R174 Million by the Department of Higher Education in Walter Sisulu University to improve its ICT infrastructure and buildings.

I must add that Isiqalo Youth Fund is available for qualifying enterprises in sectors such as agriculture, the creative industry, crafts, textiles, ICT, and services.

Education, skills and health

Honourable Speaker, for us to have a growing economy, we must have an educated, skilled and healthy citizenry that is able to take advantage of opportunities. Education is one area we have been paying sustained attention to since the dawn of our democracy hence the improvement of our education outcomes.

At the heart of our education program for this term is the implementation of the Education System Transformation Plan. We will ensure that we support our schools thoroughly so that every learner reaches the finish line of Basic Education Schooling. This means our schools will be resourced adequately with teachers; receive Learner Teacher Support Material on time; development of our teachers will be prioritized and our learners will continue to be supported through the Scholar Transport and School Nutrition Programmes.

To enhance the progressive outcomes of the Education System Transformation Plan, we are expanding the footprint of boarding schools in rural areas, leveraging underutilized infrastructure in unviable schools. We will pay particular attention to Early Childhood Development, particularly the two (2) years of exposure prior to grade one because we must get things right in the foundation phase. In this regard, we will ensure that 7 000 ECD Centres are registered.

Honourable Speaker, mud schools continue to be an eyesore in some of our villages. Many of us are products of mud-schools owing to our painful past. Even though we survived, our children must not experience that. Working with the limited resources we have at our disposal, we commit to intensify the rollout of the ASIDI Programme and ensure that the SAFE Programme for appropriate sanitation facilities is speedily implemented in our province.

Through the ASIDI Programme, we are going to ensure that 138 additional schools are built, completed and handed over for use by 2024.

In this year, 51 Schools are under construction and will come into stream in the MTEF with 22 planned for launch in this financial year alone.

During the school readiness programme, I visited special schools in Nelson Mandela Metro, Buffalo City Metro, Alfred Nzo and in OR Tambo Districts. I was impressed by the talents and capabilities of learners with special needs. I was also exposed to the passion of teachers and general workers at these schools despite the challenges they face.

Given that many of our special schools are not fully utilised, we will expand the curriculum in some of them to cater for more learners with special needs and autism. We are committed to improve and build new infrastructure to cater for learners with special needs in the Province.

Honourable Members, we have scarce resources and we must be prudent in how we allocate them. We will therefore continue to rationalize dysfunctional schools. Schools in rural villages and townships can be functional and produce exceptional results when they have dedicated management supported by the SGB and disciplined learners.

Honourable Members and Fellow citizens the health profile of our province is significantly improving. In this term, we will focus on reducing the burden of disease and ensure that the people of our province have an improved life expectancy.

To achieve this, we are going to improve the quality of Primary Health Care services, through increasing the number of facilities achieving Ideal Clinic status from 56% in 2019 to 80% by 2024.

This is possible, particularly that in the current financial year, we opened 8 state of the art clinics in the OR Tambo District in preparation for the roll out of National Health Insurance.

These clinics meet the highest levels of infrastructure and diagnostic equipment and bear testimony that the delivery of quality health care services to the people of the Eastern Cape is fast becoming a reality. Furthermore, we will prioritise filling of crucial vacant posts to address the human resource requirements.

Reducing the burden of diseases means we must intensify our fight against TB, Cancer and HIV/AIDS. It is for this reason that in this term we are going to continue to implement the 90-90-90 strategy. By the end of the 2020/21 financial year we aim to have 90% of all people knowing their HIV status, 90% of HIV positive people initiated on antiretroviral treatment, and 90% of people on ART, virally suppressed.

Fellow citizens, we have heard your concerns about the treatment and service you receive in our health centres from health practitioners. We are going to fi x this by enforcing the culture of service standards envisaged by Batho Pele principles.

Honourable Members, we are making strides to manage the medico legal albatross. Our aim is to mitigate the high costs of medico legal claims. To this end, we will improve the provision of maternal and child health interventions focusing on the 26 highly litigated hospitals.

We are also setting up a litigation unit to fight all fraudulent medico-legal claims in the Office of the Premier.

Honourable Speaker, we condemn in the strongest terms the burning of ambulances and attack on EMS personnel. That is criminality and we call on Law Enforcement Agencies to treat it as such.

Whilst we are working to ensure that all employees enjoy fair labour practices, we also want to make an appeal to Emergency Medical Services personnel in our province to understand that they provide an essential service to our people.

Consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services

Somlomo, after twenty five years of democracy, we are now consolidating the social wage through reliable and quality basic services. As we start this term, our resolve is to deepen social protection and to build viable communities.

To this end, we are going to expand access to social policy related services, which include community development, psychosocial interventions and initiatives, special programmes and direct improvement into anti-poverty programmes. We will also create 478 000 jobs over the MTEF, through the Expanded Works Programme to fight poverty amongst vulnerable groups.

Honourable Members and fellow citizens, Gender Based Violence and Femicide is inexcusable and completely unacceptable. Let us all agree that men are the main culprits of this atrocious act of GBV which is mainly directed at women. We therefore unequivocally call for the law to bite without fear or favour.

The United Nations has declared the 25th of every month as an International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. We are called upon to observe this day by wearing an orange ribbon to raise awareness against gender based violence. In our province we will go a step further by ensuring that on the 25th of every month we rollout practical awareness campaigns in our communities.

We are working to ensure that the Gender-based Violence and Femicide Strategy is implemented, to amongst other things give victims access to justice. The Gender-based Violence and Femicide emergency response plan will be launched tomorrow in Mthatha.

As government we have taken a decision to employ 2390 police reservists for all 239 Traditional Councils in the province for visible policing.

In addition, more than 2000 detectives have been trained to deal with cases of gender based violence and femicide in the province.

The abuse and death of initiates is another form of gender based violence that we must condemn with the contempt it deserves. We call on traditional leadership and all men in our society to stop this scourge and restore the dignity of our old age custom.

Honourable Speaker, we want an Eastern Cape that is characterized by livable and viable communities. It is with this vision in mind that in this term, we will also be paying particular attention on spatial integration, human settlements and local government.

Honourable Members, our forebears were correct to declare in the Freedom Charter that “there shall be houses, security and comfort for all” because shelter is a basic fundamental right of human dignity. We are henceforth going to build 52¬ 251 housing units by 2024 and 8123 housing units for the 2020/21 financial year. The beneficiaries of houses in this term will also include Military veterans in the Province.

Despite our energy challenges, during the 2020/21 financial year, Eskom is projected to spend R433 million for the electrification of more than 21 000 households in all the district municipalities of the province.

Honourable Speaker, despite its challenges, local government remains the appropriate vehicle for the development of our communities.

In this term, we will continue to support our municipalities by strengthening systems in financial management, infrastructure planning and implementation, as these are basic elements of a functional municipality.

Our support will also be directed at finding permanent solutions to the challenges that are faced by recently merged municipalities.

In 2020, working with SARS and SASSA; COGTA will assist municipalities to clean their indigent registers and weed out corruption in the system.

Honourable Speaker, our province is one of the most disaster prone areas in the country. We saw what happened in Alice recently and we will continue to offer relief to distressed communities.

Fellow citizens, the President has promulgated the new Traditional and Khoisan Act, which among other things will require the establishment of Khoi-San structures within the Province. We will ensure that these structures are established to give effect to the Act.

We have also noted that in January this year, the court has finally ruled that the Kingship of AmaMpondomise be reinstated.

As the Province, we will facilitate the establishment of this 7th Kingship with the support of the Presidency. Over and above the support we provide to our Kingdoms, for the fi rst time, this coming financial year we will allocate R21 million to support the work of our 7 Kingdoms.

Social Cohesion and safe communities Honourable Speaker, we are a diverse province rich with many cultures, beliefs and languages. It is against this background that we plan to promote the use of indigenous languages and celebration of our diverse cultures. All of this, we will do to build social cohesion.

With respect to promotion of equal opportunities, inclusion and redress, we are going to affirm designated groups, particularly women, youth and persons with disabilities across occupational levels and in the economy.

Honourable Members, community safety is our collective responsibility and all of us must work together with the police to ensure safety of all people in the community, particularly the vulnerable groups.

The Police Officers in our province are working hard to keep us safe by fighting crime. We must all continue to play our part by reporting criminal elements in our communities. One of our Police Officers, Warrant Officer Blundin from Port Elizabeth was awarded a national prize by the Police Minister for his sterling work. We congratulate him and his team for the job well done.

In response to the current spike of violent incidents in our Institutions of Higher Learning, we are launching a campus safety programme to end the rate of crime and violence.

Fellow citizens, the success of some of our sport stars and teams in various global competitions is inspiring us to continue with the partnerships we have with federations of various sporting codes, such as the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee to develop the skills and talent of our youth.

Furthermore, through school sport and club sport development we will continue to contribute towards the transformation of sporting codes in the country. From this year, we will in partnership with our municipalities launch the Annual Premiers Cup. The DSRAC MEC will unpack this program when she tables the Policy Speech of the Department. We want to acknowledge the efforts of men and women in our province who are promoting sport by hosting various tournaments in our communities.

UTata uNgumbela ngomnye wabo, ulapha phakathi kwethu namhlanje. Siyaqinisekisa ukuba sizakusebenzisana nabo kulomsebenzi mhle bawenzayo.

Honourable Members, we will deepen the understanding of our history, by developing and managing the Resistance and Liberation heritage route sites in our Province.

On the 8th of April this year we are going to launch the centenary of Vuyisile Mini. Among the activities we will undertake for his centennial, we will re-bury his repatriated remains in Tsomo on the 6th of November. We will also repatriate and re-bury the remains of Dr AB Xuma this year.

Honourable Members, we have stated publicly that corruption is an anti-thesis for growth because people who steal public funds, deny our people access to development opportunities.

In pursuit of our fight against corruption government agencies tasked with fighting any form of crime, will work together to eradicate corruption in the public service. We will also ensure that Lifestyle Audit Guidelines are implemented by March 2022.

Building a better Africa and the world

Honourable Speaker, the Eastern Cape has a relationship with the international community, which we have crystalized through a variety of treaties and agreements. We too, want to contribute to the building of a better Africa and the world.

We are therefore going to focus on increasing our share of global foreign-direct investment, and position the province as a global destination of choice for trade and tourism.

We are going to fully exploit the partnerships we have with the Cordoba Province of Argentina, the Lower Saxony Province of Germany, the Zhejiang Province of the Peoples Republic of China, as well as the Republic of Tunisia for the benefi t of our province.

We will also advocate for unity and tolerance amongst all Africans from the diaspora who live in our Province, because we are one people.

Building a capable, ethical developmental state

Honourable Speaker, our program to grow the Eastern Cape Province depends on the commitment of public servants, both elected and employed, to work with diligence and humility in serving the people of this province. We need a culture change in the public administration to conscientise public servants to know that they are employed to serve our people.

Former President Thabo Mbeki once raised the issue of poor performance and conduct of public servants and said: “We must be impatient with those in the public service who see themselves as pen-pushers and guardians of rubber stamps, thieves intent on self-enrichment, bureaucrats who think they have a right to ignore the vision of Batho Pele, who come to work as late as possible, work as little as possible and knock off as early as possible.”

We have approved the Batho Pele Service Excellence Awards policy with the objective of encouraging all in the public service to improve provision of service, attainment of targets and achieving results as we have set them in the PDP.

The work we are going to do in this term requires effective coordination and integration. Through the District Development Model, and in collaboration with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, we are going to enhance integrated planning and coordination in the implementation of government programmes. Our focus mainly will be on building and enhancing professionalism as well as the technical capacity of municipalities. Furthermore, we will focus on improving IGR functionality in the Province. This work will be strengthened by our refocused SOEs.

Conclusion

Honourable Speaker, when we were preparing for this State of the Province Address we solicited the views of the citizens of our province. We involved them because the work we are about to do in this term is to improve their lives. We wish to thank all the people of our province who shared their views with us through social media and other communication platforms.

Let me remind each of us about the words of our liberation icon, Oliver Reginald Tambo who explained that: “We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together as equals in positions of peace and prosperity.”

He further stressed that: “The fight for freedom must go on until it is won. Until our country is free, happy and peaceful as part of the community of man, we cannot rest.”

We too, as the sixth administration will not rest until we grow and transform our economy to benefit all the people of our province.

We will not rest until all those that enter the labour market find jobs. We will not rest until we have a capable and ethical state that serves the interests of the people. We will not rest until we can all look at our province with pride, because we would have built the Eastern Cape we want, a province that is enterprising and connected where all citizens reach their full potential.

We say this knowing that this is not an easy task, particularly when one considers the structural and systematic challenges of underdevelopment that we have inherited from the past. We know there are those who believe that the task in front of us impossible and who have lost hope, but as the Canadian country music artist Paul Brandt says: “don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”

Our challenges are not insurmountable and if we all have the right minds in place, we can overcome them. If we commit ourselves to the task of serving the people first, we will defeat the interrelated and persistent challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Ha re ka tlohela ho sebetsa re qaqolohane, Ra elellwa hore ntja pedi ha e hlolwe ke sebata. Mme re mona ho sebeletsa setjhaba, re ka fi hlella tse ngata.

What we have outlined here today are not promises but obligations each one of us in the public service have made to our people. It is our people who went out on the 08th of May last year to determine the direction this province must take for the next five years. They have placed their hopes and wishes on this ANC government to deliver on its mandate and transform the conditions they live in.

We dare not fail them.

Honourable Speaker, Honourable Members, fellow citizens, I invite you to join us in this journey so that together we can grow the Eastern Cape.

Thank you very much!

Ndiyabulela,

Realeboha

Baie Dankie!

Image: Mandla Nduna/ECOTP

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