Cape Town-120830-Press conference in which Helen Zille responded to the ANCYL's allegations regarding the DA and the Western Cape-Reporter-Nontando-Photographer Tracey Adams

Cape Town - The Western Cape economy will collapse overnight should the provincial government meet the demands in the ANC Youth League’s memorandum, says Premier Helen Zille.

Responding on Thursday to the youth league’s demands in a memorandum delivered to her office on Monday, Zille said the narrative the youth league was trying to perpetuate about non-delivery to the poor was completely false.

“We recognise that poverty is the primary obstacle to living a full life for many people living in the province and we are doing all we can to address this untenable situation,” said Zille.

Khaya Yozi, the league’s Dullah Omar region chairman, said they had not received any correspondence from Zille since the march.

Zille outlined what her government spent on underprivileged communities annually. She said 76 percent of the provincial government’s budget was redistributed to poor communities – R11 billion had been spent on improving health services and R10bn on education in disadvantaged areas.

“I don’t expect them [the poor] to be grateful as this is how it should be. If we are able to implement all our policies, we believe the majority of poor people would be able to move away from poverty within a generation,” she said.

The youth league plans to march to the provincial legislature on the 27th of each month until its demands are met. But Zille is convinced that the youth league is not acting in the interests of the poor, but in its own political interest.

“The poor are being sacrificed to the leadership battle in the run-up to Mangaung and 2014. What they [ANCYL] are doing is a recipe for creating poverty and more unemployment,” she said.

Yozi rejected Zille’s claims, calling them nothing but a smokescreen to conceal the real issue of the DA’s inability to provide basic services to the poor.

“She needs to stop embarrassing herself. The issue here is that the DA has not provided new services but are maintaining what was done by the ANC,” said Yozi.

“The fact that she is blatantly brushing off the important issues is unacceptable. There is no infighting here, not in this province.”

One of the nine service delivery demands in the youth league’s memorandum is that land owned by individuals and companies in suburbs such as Rondebosch and Constantia be made available for the poor.

Zille said this would result in the collapse of the economy and a dramatic reduction in the tax revenue needed to subsidise free services and provide infrastructure in poor communities.

The youth league also wants to prevent the proposed closure of schools. But Zille said the closure of certain schools was about improving opportunities for pupils by placing them in better-equipped schools.

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Cape Argus