Premier Alan Winde on Thursday said the Western Cape government has committed to expanding the focus of its red tape reduction unit to mitigate the challenges faced by small businesses and entrepreneurs in getting their enterprises off the ground. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – Premier Alan Winde announced bold plans to kick-start the economy and address the many challenges facing the province during his State of the Province address (SOPA).

Among his job creation plans were a commitment, “backed up a detailed plan to create more jobs and economic opportunities, the expansion of the Red Tape Reduction Unit, “to focus on systemic change and small businesses, and the development of a war room”, funded by Harvard University to tackle specific problems and sectors of the economy.

On his plans to increase safety in the province and tackle crime, Winde said he would develop a premier’s priority committee on safety, “which will work with all relevant role-players at the national level and all of the Western Cape government departments so that, by the time the SANDF leaves the province, plans are in place to ensure a co-ordinated response to crime”.

He said the traffic police would be transformed into a fully-fledged highway patrol service.

“While we are grateful that President Ramaphosa has approved the employment of the SANDF to the province, this is a clear admission that the police have lost the war on crime in the Western Cape.”

“What we need is a functioning police service which is fully resourced and well-led, instead of plasters to temporarily plug the wound.”

The premier was heckled from the opposition benches when he spoke about how transport, human settlements and spatial transformation were interlinked.

“Human settlements and spatial planning cannot be divorced from transport and mobility. This province needs a clean, safe and reliable transport system. People need to be able to move from home to work and to wherever they need to be with relative ease and affordability.”

On the recent violent service delivery protests, Winde said: “I support everyone’s right to protest and have their voices heard. What I will not tolerate is when these actions undermine the safety of others and become a threat to our economy and democracy.

“We will stand up against land invasions and those who destroy public property. This is a values and an integrity issue, and I have made it my personal goal to see a return of values in our society.”

In anticipation of the speech, the ANC also demanded a clear plan for informal settlements, as well as for the people known as backyarders.

“These communities have been neglected for years and must get a better deal. We also demand that Premier Winde unveils a programme that will render integrated services to at least 30 hot-spot areas that are riven by poverty and poor services. We also demand to see their plan for safer communities, as they cannot just rely on SAPS.”

Other highlights of the premier’s speech included a move to focus on arts, agriculture, coding and cloud computing, as well as the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and maths and the development of a pilot project to reward citizens for making healthier lifestyle choices.

Cape Argus