Zille’s weighty speech draws flak

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IOL cw Helen Zille 1017 (32137565)

Independent Newspapers

Western Cape premier and DA leader Helen Zille Picture: Leon Lestrade.

Premier Helen Zille has highlighted education, agriculture, economic development, jobs for youth and combating substance abuse among her key focus areas for the year ahead.

But opposition parties were not impressed, and slammed her State of the Province address as weak, anti-poor and insulting.

Zille coined the phrase “a whole-of-society approach” in her speech yesterday, saying this was necessary to tackle the scourges of rape, drug and alcohol abuse, and crime.

The murder of Anene Booysen three weeks ago in Bredasdorp reflected the confluence of many strands of societal malfunction, she said.

“It is clear that if we hope to tackle violence in our communities we need to ensure our children stay in school up to matric, and are kept away from alcohol, drugs and gangs, which fuels violent crime and risky sexual behaviour.”

Zille lauded President Jacob Zuma’s National Development Plan (NDP), saying the Western Cape was “prepared to play our part in making the NDP work”.

On the jobs front, she announced that the Development Bank of SA had granted R64 million to the Western Cape’s version of the Youth Wage Subsidy.

“This will support the creation of 1 000 new work opportunities for young people each year over three years.”

The roll-out of the province’s broadband project, announced last year, was on track, and residents of Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Saldanha Bay will have access to the internet without having to be connected to a modem or a digital subscriber line by the end of next year.

A key project for the province this year, Zille said, was the Saldanha Industrial Development Zone, which will be designated by the national Trade and Industry Department in the next few months.

“It is estimated that an eight-week stay by an oil rig is worth R200 million and 2 000 job opportunities.”

Zille warned that the Western Cape government anticipated significant job losses in the agricultural sector this year as a result of the new minimum wage for farmworkers.

On education, Zille said 26 new schools, 46 replacement schools and 124 Grade R classrooms would be built by 2016.

On health, Zille said the province’s HIV prevalence rate was “cause for grave concern”.

In 2009, the provincial government set a target of reducing HIV prevalence from 16 percent to 8 percent by 2014.

“We have failed to meet this target. In fact, the prevalence rate has increased to 18.4 percent in 2011,” she said.

“The biggest increase was among women between the ages of 30 and 39 years.”

Zille said that where illnesses could be prevented, citizens must take responsibility for doing so.

“(It must start) with us, right here in this Parliament, going on an eating and exercise regime to bring our weight to normal limits.”

But Cope MPL Mbulelo Ncedana said Zille had insulted the majority of people in the Western Cape with her comments.

“I don’t understand her logic. She has insulted us by saying our eating habits place a burden on the health system,” Ncedana said.

ANC MPL and leader of the opposition in the legislature, Lynne Brown, said: “It was a very weak State of the Province speech.

“The premier gave us a budget speech. For the short-term she’s given us no solutions. There is no plan.”

Grant Haskin, of the ACDP, said Zille failed to spell out how she would tackle corruption.


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