Cape Town - The Western Cape has “the best story to tell”, premier Helen Zille said during her State of the Province address on Friday.
Addressing the provincial legislature in Cape Town, she said progress had been made over the past five years in realising the vision of an open opportunity society for all.
“I believe that this is the Western Cape story. And it really is the good story to tell,” she said to jeers from the opposition benches.
“We have the best story to tell.”
An opposition member shouted “That's plagiarism”, in reference to the African National Congress's election phrase “We have a good story to tell”.
Zille said the story included a commitment to get rid of corruption that was “rife” in the provincial government in 2009.
Most importantly, the story was about expanding opportunities to the poorest citizens.
Zille's speech focused on the successes of government in the past five years, mirroring President Jacob Zuma's approach with his state-of-the-nation address last week.
She said the province had prioritised support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which was a vehicle for job creation and economic growth.
“Our various support interventions have facilitated and sustained around 11 400 jobs as a result of the establishment and expansion of around 3000 SMEs over the last three years.”
Zille said nearly R1.7 billion had been spent on skills development programmes in the past five years and training had been provided to 98 327 people.
ANC MPL Khaya Magaxa heckled that he was still waiting for a good story to be told.
“You wouldn't know a good story if you fell over one,” Zille responded.
Zille also said that money should be re-allocated to the Western Cape to serve an increasing number of incoming school pupils from other provinces.
“We have estimated that the migration of learners from the Eastern Cape over the last five years has cost an additional R1.2 billion.”
“Yet, this money has not been diverted from the Eastern Cape education budget, even though they now service 100,000 fewer learners.
“We need to start questioning why this money is not being re-allocated to the provinces that are actually providing for these learners' education.”
The portfolio continued to face pressure with the increasing enrolment numbers.
Since 2010, inward migration had resulted in over 130 000 additional new enrolments in schools, 80 percent of which were from the Eastern Cape.
Zille said the migration had major financial and planning implications because many of these pupils arrived unexpectedly at the beginning of the school year, and often a few days or weeks into the school term.
She said over 80 percent of the portfolio's budget had been spent on the poorest of pupils.
“The Western Cape government also pays the highest amount of money, when compared to other provinces, to schools who qualify for fee exemptions - an amount of over R90 million over the past three years.” - Sapa