Cape Town – There is no denying that 2020 has been a challenging year, and it has greatly affected may residents in the Western Cape.
In turn, it left residents needing to rely on the Western Cape Government, and have the province play their part in being there for the residents who elected them.
Premier Alan Winde and his cabinet had their hands full with the Covid-19 pandemic, but how well did they really fare this year?
Back in February, while the Covid-19 pandemic was still on the horizon, the province re-launched its Open Government First Thursday initiative, with the month’s theme being “Governing with Heart”.
Little could they have known just how much this would be a requirement for the year ahead.
In Part 1 The Cape Argus took a look at Premier Alan Winde and six of his cabinet members.
Part two continues with a look at the remaining provincial cabinet members:
Human Settlement MEC Tertuis Simmers
According to their own figures in their annual report, the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements delivered 16 217 housing opportunities out of a target of 16 859 in the 2019/20 financial year and for that, they get deserved applause.
However, with a housing backlog of close to 600 000 in this province, Simmers might better serve the cause of “governing with heart” by focusing less on throwing brickbats at Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia de Lille and a little more on finding a workable solution to the problem of housing across the province.
Fighting with De Lille will not provide people with a roof over their heads.
Social Development MEC Sharna Fernandez
While Fernandez ordinarily appears to steer clear of controversy, in May this year she ended up in the eye of a storm when she said she had became aware that draft regulations from the national government proposed the banning of cooked food distribution by NGOs.
When it turned out there had been no such thing, it was somewhat embarrassing.
However, this stumble was nothing compared to the mess over the Strandfontein temporarily shelter in April that cast not just Fernandez, but the rest of the provincial government, and the City of Cape Town in quite a heartless light.
On the plus side, the department worked really hard to support older people, their families and their caregivers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While of course there will always be more to do, this earned Fernandez some plus points.
Cultural Affairs and Sport MEC Anroux Marais
The pandemic had a significant effect on individuals in both the arts and the sporting spheres especially during the hard lockdown when participation in these fields was impossible.
Marais showed heart by campaigning for and encouraging individuals in these fields to apply for assistance from the Relief Fund from the national Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.
Her one serious misstep, however, may have been December's postponement of initiation rituals in the Western Cape for the remainder of the duration of the Covid-19 state of national disaster.
While the decision may have been the right one, it would have been governing with heart, to consult the traditional leadership.
Many complained that they only learnt of the decision through the media.
Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer
In August the Sustainability Institute of SA (Siza) in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Agriculture completed an exploratory study into the representation and treatment of women within what many believe to be a male dominated agricultural sector.
One of the study’s objectives was to ascertain whether women were treated with dignity at all levels of the industry and to identify barriers which hindered gender equality in agriculture.
At the time Meyer welcomed it and said: “Gender equity makes business sense.”
Less than six months later the same Meyer who could understand how gender equity was important, appeared blind to racial equity and ordered the withdrawal of funding that would have helped restore some balance to black farmers, especially black women farmers.
How could Meyer not see that in South Africa’s context the two were intertwined?
The DA-led provincial government may say it wants to govern with heart, but they are going have to dig a whole lot deeper to find their heart and only then might they put their hopes into practice.