Winde plan slammed by opposition
OPPOSITION parties have criticised Western Cape Premier Alan Winde for not having a clear enough plan for the economic recovery of the province after the ravages of Covid-19.
Winde presented a special address at the Western Cape Legislature on Thursday. The address was largely a retrospective look at actions taken during the lockdown, with some ideas for how to move forward towards rebuilding the economy – but lacking clear details and planning, opposition members said in a debate yesterday morning.
Winde revealed that more than 150 000 jobs would be lost this year in the province.
“We know that many people have lost their jobs, or have had to close their businesses, both big and small. We are taking this very seriously, and we will do everything we can to get our economy growing so that you can again access a job, or reopen a business in the Western Cape,” he said.
“We have launched an emergency economic relief and recovery programme. This plan aims to create nearly 20 000 new jobs through rapid interventions. I want to, again, make clear that, in the Western Cape, we believe that it is the private sector and not the state that drives economic growth and job creation.”
EFF representative Nosipho Makamba-Botya said this amounted to leaving economic recovery in the hands of the free market, “in the hope that the unguided and unassisted private sector will steer the province out of this economic crisis”.
She said the province was relying on businesses to create jobs, but not doing enough to help those same businesses to recover from lockdown.The speech delivered was not only uninspiring but a waste of time. It did not provide solutions to economic challenges affecting the province.”
Brett Herron, of the GOOD party, said all of Winde’s announcements were old plans that they had been heard before, with one exception.
“The one bold and courageous idea we should have heard more about was the funding of an infrastructure programme through borrowing,” Herron said.
“I agree that we need our own version of the New Deal, a massive infrastructure led economic growth and employment programme. But this was presented as a vague pie-in-the-sky idea rather than a well thought out plan with details. The people of this province deserve real plans and the meticulous details.”
This follows Winde's announcement of an infrastructure agency which could borrow money and hold assets, to be formed within the next year.
“We have taken a decision to explore – for the first time in the history of this province – the possibility of borrowing money from financial institutions to specifically invest in infrastructure that will enhance economic growth and job creation,” Winde said.
Economic recovery cannot take place without safety, community safety MEC Albert Fritz said in the debate.
“We can't revive this economy while people are too scared to go to work or use public transport or go to the shops. Safety is a public health issue.”
Fritz threw his weight behind Winde’s plan as announced on Thursday to price alcohol per unit, making high-alcohol drinks more expensive to buy.
“The amendments to the Western Cape Liquor Authority will get special impetus and we are looking to employ a specialist advocate or attorney to just focus and drive the liquor amendments,” he said.
However, Galil Brinkhuis, representative from Al Jama-Ah Muslim party, said making alcohol more expensive wouldn’t solve the province's drinking problem.
“The increase in price of the cheapest alcohol will not be effective. The province must look at accessibility to alcohol in residential areas, along with drug dens on every street corner,” Brinkhuis said.
Winde closed off the debate by saying he had invited opposition members to work with him to resolve the challenges ahead, but most had only offered criticisms instead of ideas.