Cape Town - The spotlight will be on Premier Alan Winde when he delivers his state of the province address (SOPA) on Wednesday that highlights achievements as well as plans in the fight against the pandemic.
Winde will deliver his speech and host the subsequent debate in the Overberg town of Genadendal to which 50 people, including members of the provincial legislature, business chambers and local organisations, have been invited.
This is the second time the SOPA is to be held outside of the chamber, to include the community, after it took place in Mitchell’s Plain last year with a price tag of R1 million. But Speaker Masizole Mnqasela said they would not spend more than R200 000 for the two-day event and would also heed strict Covid-19 protocols.
The Good Party’s Brett Herron has accused the provincial government of making announcements with no clear implementation plans.
“They announced a Western Cape safety plan when there wasn't anything more than a powerpoint presentation at a press conference. That safety plan had a R1.3 billion price tag but there has been no feasibility, no study and no plan. A draft working document was produced a few weeks later and when the plan was eventually implemented it falls far short of the bold and glossy promises,” he said.
“The premier announced an economic war room to boost the economy and create jobs. There is no war room and with the funding of Wesgro, which has the same purpose, it was nothing more than a job for a DA cadre who runs the so called ’war room’ at a massive R1 million plus salary but who has no economic development experience.
“Then the premier announced a ’bold decision to invest heavily in infrastructure in the Western Cape’ and that he would be creating an infrastructure agency that would hold assets and borrow money. But since the announcement has the agency been created, what assets does it hold, how will it be funded and what will it do?
“More recently the premier has announced the Western Cape will ’go it alone’ and procure its own Covid-19 vaccine. But the Western Cape Health Department's report to the ad hoc committee on Covid-19, last week, made no mention of procuring a vaccine and the Provincial Treasury which presented its Covid-19 vaccine budget made no provision of funding for procuring a vaccine.”
The ANC’s Cameron Dugmore said Winde would first have to lay out how the provincial government fared in implementing last year’s promises.
“In last year's speech Winde talked about the economic war room; we want to hear how many jobs have been provided since last year, what was the cost of the war room.
“We expect the premier to come out openly and condemn the attempt by the TWK Municipality to sell a prime piece of council land between Greyton and Genadendal for R100 to a private school. This land is needed for human settlement .
“Winde needs to explain to the Western Cape and Overberg why he has refused to implement the judgement in the Tafelberg matter and develop a clear plan for integrated human settlements and to reverse apartheid spatial planning.”
The EFF’s Nosipho Makamba-Botya said the provincial government will likely blame their failures to implement promises on the pandemic.
“However, the same government did not even achieve its own targets that were set as a result of the pandemic itself. The de-densification process that was supposed to take place in Dunoon and Greater Kosovo as a way to mitigate against the spread of Covid-19 failed before it even began,” she said.
“The 2021 Sopa will be focusing on the same issues which were mentioned last year but not achieved. We want more houses to be built in the province for the poor, and more land should be made available for purposes of human settlement.
“The premier must prioritise the issue of the availability of water, proper sanitation and waste removal especially in poor communities and informal settlements. It cannot be that a provincial government claims to fight the Covid-19 pandemic but at the same time people do not have water to even wash their hands.
“The government needs to facilitate the creation of real job opportunities aimed at changing people’s lives for the better, and do away with the short term contract job opportunities offered in the province which awards workers with stipends. The ever increasing crime must be addressed and money should not be wasted in the so-called safety plan which has not yielded results so far.”
Ndifuna Ukwazi is also demanding accountability from the provincial government in addressing the province’s housing backlog.
“In his 2020 Sopa Winde addressed his intentions to upgrade the human settlements, yet a year later so little has been accomplished to address the staggering 600 000 housing backlog,” said the organization’s Zacharia Mashele.
“The Western Cape is experiencing a housing affordability crisis, government has not acted with urgency to address apartheid spatial injustice. The WCG made a promise to deliver 10 000 housing opportunities, which got reduced to 2 000. Minister of Human Settlements Tertius Simmers acknowledged that no properties had been transferred to his department for housing.
“Premier Winde, in your 2021 Sopa we want to see a transparent government with clear plans and concrete actions on how you will bridge these great divisions in our province. Poor and working-class people are still living on the outskirts, far from economic opportunities and good social amenities.
“The increased land occupations are living testimonies that people cannot live on the housing waiting list, therefore, an increase in the human settlements budget to address the housing backlog would see many poor and working-class people living in well-located dignified housing.”