Cape Town - Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has rejected the DA’s claim that the Western Cape, where it governs, is the best-performing province.
Speaking in Cape Town today at a gathering of the Progressive Professionals Forum, Patel said he could demonstrate “on any metric” these claims were false.
For example, for the term of the current administration, between 2009 and 2012 (the last full year for which provincial GDP figures were available), the Western Cape was ranked third, behind Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Patel said when the ANC ran the province, between 2004 and 2009, the Western Cape had been the fastest-growing province, followed by Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
“So during the DA administration the Western Cape fell from the fastest-growing province by GDP on an annual basis, to the third-fastest growing,” Patel said.
He also disputed a claim by DA spokesman on finance Tim Harris that the Western Cape was the best-performing province for job creation.
He agreed that for the year mentioned by Harris, 2013, this had been the case.
“But the record you look at is the record of an administration, the period you are in office, not one year of the period you’re in office,” Patel said.
On this measure Gauteng had created almost double the number of new jobs compared to the Western Cape - 409 000 vs 191 000.
Broken down by race, the numbers made for “very, very interesting reading”.
In Gauteng there had been a reduction in the number of whites in employment, but 442 000 new jobs had been created for Africans.
Only 22 000 jobs had been created for Africans in the Western Cape, while whites had benefited from 97 000 new positions, Patel said.
“Now white South Africans and Western Cape citizens have the right to also be absorbed into the economy, to work, to contribute to our livelihoods. But when you build an equitable society, you want to make sure that jobs and resources are distributed in an equitable manner.
“I think this is a pretty telling example of the failure to do so,” Patel said.
He slammed Western Cape premier and DA leader Helen Zille for claiming the Reserve Bank had modelled the opposition party’s growth plans and found its claim it could achieve 8 percent growth to be correct.
The Reserve Bank had responded to Zille by saying her comments were a “blatant misrepresentation of the facts” and a “misuse of the Reserve Bank’s name”.
It demonstrated a “disregard of the independence and the integrity of the Reserve Bank”.
Patel said if this had been President Jacob Zuma, it would have made “headlines, main story, front page story”.
“I hear somebody shouting impeachment. That’s the point we’re trying to raise about the public discourse, the gap between what is demonstrably so, and what is being claimed. We’ve got to close that gap,” Patel said.